'The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do' ... Michael Porter
The following is from chapter 3 of my book
Digital Marketing: a Practical Approach
DIGITAL ISN'T THE ONLY OPTION
Although it may seem strange in a book on digital marketing written by someone who has been an advocate of the discipline for over 20 years, but marketers should always be aware that digital is just one aspect of marketing. Indeed, in the main, it is only one element of the promotional mix. Too often, digital marketing in general, and social media marketing in particular, are perceived as; [a] the only route to market, and [b] a panacea that will improve bad marketing in other channels.
Certainly, digital has revolutionized some industries in a way unimaginable before the Internet came along; for example, who books a hotel or flight anywhere else other than online these days? Similarly, for some products and services, the web plays an essential part in consumers' purchase decision making process. However, for many products, if the marketer puts them in the right place at the right time at the right price then customers will buy them - the ongoing success of Aldi and Lidl [neither of which sell online] is evidence of this. If you doubt this try this simple exercise that I ask my students to complete in the first week of my digital marketing modules. List all of your purchases - of products and services - over the last week or month [longer is better] and divide that list into two sections:  those where the Internet played a part, and  where the Internet played no part.
Some will fall clearly into the first section. Online purchases, obviously, and products that you research online - though you will find these are normally of a higher price and are not regular purchases. Then there are some that could fall in either list. For example, you might visit a restaurant purely on spec or you may have searched for a restaurant in Google if you were not in your home town. However, it will normally be the list in category number two that will be longest. If you are still a doubter, your non-Internet list will include things such as: anything from the university cafe, anything from an on-campus vending machine, fuel for your car, that ice cream on a hot day or the bottle of water on your walk, milk or some fruit from the local shop. Or what about every item of groceries you have bought - be it from corner shop or supermarket?
Staying with your grocery list - have you ever visited the website of the company that makes or processes any of those products? Or do you follow them on social media? And then there is your hairdresser, or the car wash, or that little shop on the high street that sells all kinds of craft accessories. Indeed, every shop that is not part of a national chain. Yes, of course there will be exceptions - but hopefully my examples will have encouraged you to give the concept of digital isn't the only option some thought.
Indeed, there are more businesses without websites than there are with - at least that is the case according to Google. Writing on a community help-site [Google My Business] in June 2017, Google Community Manager Marissa Nordahl made the comment that; 'Millions of small businesses [60% of small businesses globally] don't yet have a website.' My shopping list will give you a good start on identifying the types of business in that 60%.
However, if you are a student it is unlikely that you will have had experience of buying in a B2B context - though some readers may well be working in such an environment. Again, for some industries, products or services the Internet has changed the mode of trading completely - but for others offline is still where business is done.
In the B2B environment there is often a relationship between the buyer and seller that exists offline - if I was a buyer for Tesco, for example, I would expect sellers - with whom I might be spending millions of pounds each week - to show me a little more respect than communicating with me only via email or Facebook. Similarly, in some industries there will be a limited number of sellers of specialised products - so I have their phone number, I don't do a search on Google. The State of Pipeline Marketing report [Pipeline Marketing, 2016] considered not only the methods used by B2B marketers to drive growth, but also how effective they felt those channels were. This data is shown below ...
In general, the chart shows clearly just how different B2B marketing is to B2C, there are no retail outlets for example. Note how poor some of the returns are for some aspects of marketing - social media stands out. By far the most effective channel is word-of-mouth and/or referrals - as with many B2C products and services - if you provide the right product in the right place at the right price not only will customers return, but that will recommend you to friends and associates. Perhaps if businesses spent 100% of their efforts into delighting customers they would not have to commit any resource to other marketing activities? The job of the marketer is, however, to identify which elements of marketing are most suitable to the product or service they are marketing.
As Michael Porter famously said: 'The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.' I'll go a step further and say that those elements you choose to implement must be done effectively and efficiently. And if that was easy, no business would ever fail.
This page was first published in February 2018 ... but it may have been updated or amended since then.