My dear old Dad was a very accomplished builder of things. He used to say: "Use the right tools for the right job - you can't know what you need until you know what you are trying to do." I don't think he ever decided which tool to use until he knew what he was trying to accomplish. It worked for him, and it's worked for me.
Fast forward to today. I came across an interesting set of posts on Elektrik Ink's blog (NOTE: I'd never heard of this firm before I saw their post, so I'm not plugging them - just citing them). The posts offered a succinct, two-sided, balanced look at 'traditional' and 'social' media/marketing (10 Reasons Why Traditional Marketing Needs Social Media, and vice verse).
I was happy to come across this pair of posts (it’s heartening to see another soul with a balanced perspective). Many kool-aid drinking pundits or evangelists are painting this as an ‘either/or’ situation, in some cases largely to tout their own services (which I guess is fair...everyone deserves to make a buck). But, caveat emptor! In doing so they are bringing the discussion down too low on the totem pole in my opinion. That debate is one of tactics -- but the discussion is one that should be held at the policy, objectives and strategy level.
In the most basic of terms, ‘traditional’ or ’social’ are media channels, and media channel selection/usage is only a tactical component of the marketing mix (albeit an important component). Media selection should be totally agnostic, driven by the goals and objectives for the brand, target audience, etc.
It's pretty basic stuff for a well-trained marketer and business person. Business/marketing objectives lead marketing strategy, then marketing strategy sets the guidelines for tactics…THEN the tactics are selected that are in line with the objectives and strategies for the brand. But, in this day and age, the war rages on about the tactics. And, where it does, the Brand and business suffers.
Net: It’s never an “either/or”…it’s what’s right for the Brand and its business objectives, and that's where the hard thinking needs to start.
So, while some say "to-MAY-to" and some say "to-MAH-to," I say - what are we trying to accomplish before we decide on what to call this thing.