Many pundits in the world of marketing and advertising are obsessed with stuff dying.
“Radio is dead in 10 years. This study proves it.”
“TV is dying.”
“Twitter learns to thrive or die.”
“The end of advertising as we know it.”
“Branding is dead.”
Headlines aside, the truth is death rarely happens in media or marketing.
Newspapers didn’t go away when the radio was invented. Radio didn’t die when we started watching TV. Billboards are still ubiquitous. We can watch TV on YouTube, read newspapers on our iPad and listen to radio on our smartphones.
As media evolves, we adapt and adopt. We add, not subtract.
Why are so many experts wrong so much of the time? The problem is binary thinking. The idea that if this is true, the opposite cannot be true — what business author Jim Collins calls “The Tyranny of OR.” It pushes people to think things must be A or B when the answer actually is both.
Binary, either/or thinking limits possibilities. Marketer Mark Ritson coined the term “bothism” to explain the silliness and shortsightedness of either/or thinking.
Here are five critical areas where binary thinking limits marketing success and why bothism is the better approach.
Short-term promotional marketing OR long-term brand building? The flaw here is obvious. Each approach does different things. Short-term marketing drives sales at the bottom-of the-funnel, but it does little to create long-term demand at the top-of the-funnel.
Long-term brand building creates strong demand through awareness and differentiation at the top-of-the-funnel but lacks the ability to affect “buy-today” conversions without a direct or digital component. Alone, each delivers sub-optimal outcomes. Combined, they capitalize on the strengths of both to achieve optimal results.
Strategy OR creative. If selling is the goal, the advertiser must combine the substance of a powerfully differentiated brand position strategy with the sizzle of attention-getting creative. One is not more important than the other. Quite literally, strategy needs creative and creative needs strategy. The rule is, find the laser-focused brand position first, then find an emotionally emphatic way to express the idea.
Quantitative OR qualitative. Quantitative research is believed to be more powerful than the more intuitive qualitative research. Quantitative, after all, is scientific. Qualitative is touchy-feely and a bit artsy. Again, choosing between one or the other leads to sub-optimal results. Combining the two methods in the appropriate balance leads to a more reliable outcome.
Traditional marketing OR digital marketing. Today’s media lines are blurred, making this binary divide largely irrelevant. All three of the formerly traditional media — radio, newspaper, billboard — now derive more than 50% of their audience and revenue from digital communications.
A study by Analytic Partners in 2020 revealed remarkable synergies that occur when traditional and digital media are combined in a “bothism” approach. Traditional outdoor paired with paid search resulted in a 5% increase in ROI. When online video was combined with outdoor, the return was almost 20%. The pairing of TV with online video delivered an astounding 35% bump. Integrated traditional and digital marketing works. Bothism wins again.
Mass marketing OR micro targeting. Mass marketing reaches out to everyone in the category, conveys a clear brand position and uses a mix of tactics that is more mass and slightly less digital. Short-term marketing is less emotional than brand marketing, has very tight objectives, is action-based and generally relies more heavily on direct marketing tactics. Evidence shows the best results are realized when target marketing is combined with brand-build mass marketing.
It turns out, the only thing dying in marketing is either/or. Liberate your thinking. Put “bothism” to work in your marketing. Instead of choosing A OR B, figure out a way to have A AND B.