What do you consider traditional marketing?

Given today’s rapidly changing landscape of hotel marketing, it’s all too easy to get caught in a rigid frame of mind in terms of how you classify your sales channels. As a result, the term “traditional marketing” needs constant revision in accordance with how long a given channel has existed and its relevance to the current cash cows.

Off the top of my head, I’d group under traditional marketing the following: print media (magazines, newspapers), radio, television, trade shows, brochures and travel agencies. From this, one could easily assume that traditional encompasses everything physical as well as electronic means that do not revolve around the Internet. Therefore, under digital marketing you could put e-newsletters, OTAs, SEM, SEO, flash sites, social media and so on.

So, where then would you place banner ads and any associated re-targeting? Both are wholly dependent on Internet traffic, and yet they aren’t anything new. In terms of efficacy, banner ads are abysmal compared to other traditional channels like magazines or even television. I’d say that the word “traditional” needs some redefinition.

First, I’d encourage you to think in terms of categorizing social marketing channels as a separate entity. This comprises any and all social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, but it also can include nearly anything where there is an interactive component with guests. Think online review sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp in addition to your voice channel where your service reps have the opportunity to directly impact a consumer’s level of appreciation for your property.

In the past, I’ve advised against thinking of social media as marketing channels. Instead, they are relationship-building tools. Now, I’ve come to believe that relationship building IS marketing; it’s just not as overt as you’d find in direct, “traditional” channels where there’s no room for any back and forth. What I’m finding more and more is that not only are the channels themselves evolving, but so are the ways in which we cluster those channels, subtly altering the ways that we approach such groupings.

And so I leave it to you. This post was intended to get you thinking about how you judge and classify channels — new, old or not even available yet. Where do you draw the line between traditional, digital, social and whatever other term you use?