Social Media: The Billboard vs. The Cup of Coffee

What is the difference between traditional marketing and social media marketing?

Once upon a time staffing companies’ marketing departments wrote a check for airtime, a giant newspaper ad, or a billboard. These would run for the length of the contract and then the sales guy from the radio station or wherever would try and show some data to justify renewing the contract again.

In this old scenario, there was nothing to be done on the staffing company’s side between the check being written and the renewal – except wait and hope. Thankfully, this is no longer the case because of the annoying little sister  (Social Media) that is now not an infant tugging on the marketing executive’s leg, but a full grown person demanding to be heard.

Here’s how they work together.

The Billboard:
(Old school marketing functions much like this)

Dead Billboard  By Daveness_98

1. Identify target market: age, gender, interest etc… (demographics, analytics, focus groups) all of that fun stuff led them to focus on a group of people – Let’s just picture this group of people standing over there (I pointed to a imaginary place) doing their thing.

2. Spend a lot of money to get target groups attention, example: Write that check and put up a huge billboard somewhere with the message for the group to hear.

3. Do nothing till renewal time

4. Come renewal time, your marketing team isn’t satisfied with the numbers of customers from the billboard

5. Billboard sales guy “It NEEDS lights! If we just add lights for XXXX amount more, then people will have to turn and look at it. This will be HUGE!”

6. Repeat this process, with Lights, then moving pictures, holograms, etc… you get the idea. Pretty soon you have a billboard that could double as a Vegas show.

Social Media (is one average guy)

Human Behavior by Procsilas

1. Wanders around a little and then finds the target group in much the same way as traditional marketing does… BUT

2. He observes this group, what to do they like, dislike, eat, talk to, what problems do they face, does he have something that will help, etc… he is Jane Goodall and they are his gorillas. He also watches to see if anyone looks up and over at that giant billboard — no one does.

3. Once he feels he knows them a little, he walks to the middle of the circle dressed like them, talking like them, he has coffee for the group from their favorite place, shakes their hands, and asks their names. He always asks what them what THEY need and want.

4. Then and only then, he points at the big billboard and asks if anyone has seen it, and most of them turn and look at it – really look at it for the first time. Why? Because they trust him.

The beauty of social media is you aren’t trying to redirect a huge ship holding your market over to you. You are simply hopping aboard and talking to them where they are. You can keep shouting at your market from the distance, drowned out by all the other voices or you can simply go up to them and ask if you can walk with them for a bit.


The real magic happens when traditional marketing and social media work together. When each is free to do what they do best and then merge them into one strategy – that’s when those moments of marketing gold happen. Heck, it’s cheaper too. The Billboard probably could have spared some of its costly “improvements” if social media had been integrated in the beginning and helped promote it earlier.

This isn’t about making your staffing company decide whether one is better or worse. It’s about understanding the differences so you can use them together or separately – yet, effectively. A wrench and pliers are both important tools (and can do some of the same functions) but having them both in your toolbox and using them correctly is always a better plan.

Start making your marketing efforts work together, contact Staffing Robot today.

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