There are two types of people in the digital marketing industry: experienced marketers with a traditional approach who start by tapping into the psyche of their target audiences; and a new generation of marketers who have trained in the digital age and become familiar with the different channels and platforms involved in a practical way.

But are there enough people who combine the two skill sets?

As we keep up with ever-changing digital channels and techniques, are we forgetting the who, what, why and when – the fundamentals – of traditional marketing? Are digital skills wasted without a true understanding of marketing principles?

A discussion has started in recent years about the lack of digital skills, a concern that technology advances faster than the skills of marketers. But we must simultaneously fill another gap: the lack of a fundamental understanding of the fundamental principles and values ​​of marketing.


In short, in the shock of traditional marketing and digital marketing mentalities, is there really a winner?

Don’t leave out traditional marketing principles

Digital skills are going to become more and more in demand, and rightly so. But they shouldn’t be the drivers of what marketers do.


We can report on the data, but as marketers we are ultimately judged by sales and growth. The stats on click-through rates, page visits, and session length can be staggering, but if we’re not contributing new business, those we’re responsible for probably won’t care.

In SEO, it’s common to use a suite of digital tools to research keyword volumes, as well as tweak code and experiment with patterns to improve search positions, without considering whether those queries and expressions are associated with the right audience or the right intention. An incredible amount of effort and technical expertise can be spent on keyword research without generating significant traffic.

Likewise, a paid social executive may know all the tips and tactics to lower the cost per click, but may send the wrong message.

What is missing, of course, is the human element, the curiosity, the ability to ask questions. And the traditional marketing mindset: taking the time to learn all about your audience – who they are, how they behave online, what interests them and what holds them back, and how your business is doing. integrates in the market and what defines you a part.

We need to be strategic, not just tech-savvy.

Traditional Marketing vs. digital: how did we get there?

Marketers work in an industry that is changing faster than most. In fact, for those of us who work exclusively in digital or digital niches like SEO, our industry didn’t even exist a few decades ago. So it makes sense that in our efforts to keep up with new features in Google Ad or new social media platforms, the question of “why” we are doing this becomes a bit hazy.

As marketing becomes more and more important, there is pressure to stay ahead (or just keep pace), and hiring a younger generation of digital natives is often seen as the solution. But, on its own, this is not enough.

As digital marketing is a relatively young industry, it sometimes lacks the legacy and formal structure that would guarantee a more coherent form of training and development. This is especially true when you consider that there are fewer barriers to entry, which means that many small businesses or agencies do not have regulated marketing training processes in place.

Those who are just starting out as a lawyer, for example, will have a clear training program. They will enter the industry with more formal qualifications than many who enter digital marketing, and they will be subject to a more standardized approach to lifelong learning.

Marketers have a less defined career path, which sometimes means vital skills, sometimes more general skills, slip through the cracks.

As we face the prevalence of teleworking, the gap between traditional marketing mindsets and those of digital marketing is likely to widen. Those new to the industry can take online courses to learn the practical elements of their trade, but interacting directly with more experienced traditional marketers – learning by osmosis – is what helps them develop the right state of mind. mind.

How to bridge the mentality gap between traditional marketing and digital marketing?

The responsibility for ensuring that fundamental marketing skills remain at the forefront rests with everyone in a business, at every stage.

If you are hiring new beginners, look beyond a CV filled with certifications and consider that creative thinkers can be of tremendous benefit in the long run. If you’re already in a digital role, listen to the most experienced marketers around you, not only learning what they do it but also Why.

The most effective way to instill the basics of basic marketing, however, is to encourage people to ask questions. Make it okay to seek out as much information as possible and question everything presented to you.

If you’re a marketing agency, this logic applies not only to those you market to, but your clients as well. Sometimes what customers are asking for is not necessarily what they want or need. When asking for a service or a task, your ability to identify the desired outcome and work backwards is vital, and it is this kind of independent thinking that makes you valuable.

A thorough working knowledge of the right digital tools and techniques will go a long way, but fueling that expertise with an understanding of what you need to say to your audience, and when and why, is what the marketing industry needs the most.

More resources on traditional marketing compared to digital marketing

Understanding Modern Marketing: Marketing Evolution and Digital Impact

Four keys to traditional marketing in a digital world

How To Stay Relevant As A Marketer In A Mad Martech World

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