Traditional and New Media Comparison

I begin with a disclaimer.  This is an opinion piece, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I currently work in online marketing but most of my experience is in traditional media.

If we frame this comparison in terms of the message and its delivery, and tracking the costs, I feel it simplifies our comparison.

THE MESSAGE:  With traditional media, you develop a message which you have full control over.  The development of the message may have a cost associated with it.  There may also be a cost to take that message and prepare it for use in the form of media chosen.  For example, there could be substantial costs to create a television commercial.  With new media, you don’t always develop a short form message which you control.  This is especially true of social media.  To do this well, you participate in the community, engage in dialogue with the community and you put your message out there and let the community take control.

DELIVERY:  With traditional media you pay to have your message delivered to potential customers.  The delivery is the largest expense in this model.  With new media, the delivery is very inexpensive, perhaps even free.

TRACKING COSTS:  On the surface, new media looks like a way to save a great deal on marketing.  If a business is to do social media well, it requires a substantial commitment in terms of time.  To do well in this space, you need to be providing compelling content on a regular basis.  Creating content can be very time consuming and the community decides if it’s compelling.  Unless the content is created by a teenage daughter or son in their spare time, the time devoted to managing your profile online is a cost.  Imagine a situation where a one person operation is just starting out and the individual has nothing but time on their hands.  They spend large amounts of time creating and managing their online presence.  The busy business owner that is straining to manage a growing business doesn’t have the same time to devote and may end up with an inferior online presence.

CONTROL:  The last consideration in today’s piece is the control issue.  Are you comfortable enough with your offering and the community you participate in to give up control.  I am not saying giving up control is bad, it’s whether you are prepared for this.  Losing control is not something every business owner can do.  If you can, and the community trusts and embraces you, this can work wonders for your business, just know what you are getting into.

What Are You Trying to Tell Me?

     This bus bench is located on a street that I travel from time to time.  Every time I drive past I am given to contemplating the motivation behind the message.  Because I stopped today to take a photo, I now have little doubt what the business owner is trying to communicate.  We had a heck of a spring snow storm over the weekend as you can see.  I stopped, brushed snow from the bench, took my picture and now we can now take in all of the message.  But first, if you aren’t from around here let me give you a little background on the business category.

     The Province of Alberta privatized the registry business some time ago.  If you want a driver’s license, marriage licence, vehicle registration, a copy of your Alberta birth certificate or even a license to run a raffle for your daughter’s soccer team you go to one of the many privately run registry offices.  Land titles, vital statistics, there’s a lot that they cover.  You can check them out online to understand the scope.

     Now back to the message on the bus bench.  When you drive past, even after months of passing this bench all you are left with is “GET OFF THE BUS” and their name.  It’s interesting that the local transit company has a bench imploring people to stop using their service, but I digress.  What does this message say to advocates of public transit?  Does this get their backs up?  What message do we get about the people that are standing at this stop waiting for the bus?  Does the message say “Hey loser, read the bench why don’t you!”  I mean really all you have to do is call or go online and book a road test.  The message seems to assume that people are riding the bus because they don’t have a driver’s license.  There are people on the bus by choice.  It also seems to say that all you need to do to get off the bus is take a road test.  This is clearly not the case.

     Sometimes the message delivered differs from the one intended.  Most of the people that pass this bench do so in a private vehicle.  Do these people say, “This message is not aimed at me?”  If they do the money invested in the bench has no return.  This is better, however, than the people that are annoyed.  Give thought to who you are talking to and what they might take from your message.  It’s not what you say but what people think you are saying that matters.