Old-school, traditional industries, such as finance, agriculture, law firms and manufacturing, are legacy industries that have stayed with what works, even through periods of revolution.
But that’s about to change. Artificial intelligence, cloud computing, smart devices, cryptocurrency, autonomous cars and other technologies are flashy, high-tech ideas, but they’re not the be-all, end-all of transformation in traditional industries.
With the industrial booms taking place – and a significant injection of capital and creativity – legacy companies are seeing the advantages of marketing innovation for a fresh approach.
Create immersive, at-home experiences with mixed reality
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are among the hottest trends for marketing and content. Even TikTok has AR filters, and consumers are buying into the Oculus and similar at-home VR devices.
So, what does that have to do with marketing? AR and VR are already used by marketing all over the world to boost brand recognition and revenue. Mixed reality (MR), a blend of AR and VR, is likely to be the next big thing.
With MR, consumers engage with an environment that has digital and physical objects interacting. This not only gives a consumer a great idea of the brand and what it has to offer, but shows marketers real-life, honest customer reactions.
Some brands get really creative with this, like when Wendy’s used VR experiences to engage with gamers in Fortnite’s virtual world. While this isn’t strictly VR, it connected with customers where they want to be. Wendy’s also took it further by allowing gamers to earn coins they could use for food in the real world, and launched an in-game campaign with a “Wendy” avatar destroying freezers – falling in line with the “fresh, never-frozen beef.”
The Internet of Things (IoT) allows marketers to create completely new experiences that bridge the digital and physical world. Traditional industries may be in desperate need of some out-of-the-box thinking.
Most IoT projects are about automating and optimizing processes, which are important, but only indirectly related to the customer experience. Connected consumers are adding more and more IoT devices, providing more data for marketers to provide highly contextualized experiences.
One of the biggest benefits of IoT is that it allows marketers to drill down and analyze the customer buying experience and gain deep insights into the customer journey. This isn’t as simple as connecting with customers on their devices – it’s about interactions with smart devices and displays.
Think of smart fitting rooms, or interactive fitting rooms that let customers shop the store without going back to the floor. This can also be used for virtual fitting rooms, which don’t even require that shoppers leave their homes. Other examples of similar technology include virtual swatching for beauty companies and touchscreen menus and ordering at restaurants.
Focus on local SEO
Local SEO is important for any industry, but it’s even more valuable for traditional industries. Community banks, local restaurants and independently owned stores rely on local customers as much as digital customers.
As a result, location marketing needs to be considered for any traditional industry. Most people search for the stores, products and services they need through a local Google search, such as “restaurants near me.” This pulls up the names of local businesses within a certain radius that mention the product or industry. Typically, searchers see the reviews, operating hours and other details in the results as well.
Unfortunately, this is where many businesses fail. If that information isn’t updated, it could affect the rankings. Worse yet, it may discourage a customer if they visit the physical location and the hours or address are wrong.
Optimizing this information is quick and simple. Businesses just have to claim the page and fill in details like the official name, website URL, address, phone number and operating hours. You could also add information to other location-based services like Yelp and Foursquare.
Automation makes location-based marketing like this faster and easier. Tools for automated marketing offer a centralized hub for inputting and updating all the vital business information, then cross-references it across different platforms. You’ll also get updates about new reviews to respond quickly and manage your online reputation.
Leverage the power of social media
Social media is a newer part of the marketing mix, but it’s vital to your digital marketing strategy. Traditional industries may be among the slowest to get active on social media – especially with “younger channels” like TikTok and Snapchat.
That’s a big obstacle. Most consumers expect to interact with brands online, especially on social media, to get a feel for what they’re about. Yes, even with traditional businesses. If you’re not present on social media, you could be missing out on huge opportunities to connect with your audience.
In addition, you’re already discussed on social, whether you have a presence or not. Customers look for brands online and leave reviews about their experiences. If you’re not guiding the conversation, it can hurt your brand without you even knowing.
Getting started on social may be a little daunting, but it’s easier than you think. Just get started on the platform with the largest portion of your audience (maybe Facebook or YouTube). Building a following takes time and patience, but the more you post and share, the more your audience will grow.
Social media is another aspect of marketing that you can innovate. Several tools are available to automate and enhance your social media marketing efforts, such as ad campaign management, content scheduling and calendar management.
Focus on omnichannel experience
Traditional industries can go a long way with a little creative thinking. Progressive, the well-known and respected insurance agency, was once door-to-door like every other insurance company. The company was a pioneer in many ways, including using direct channels, launching a website, and providing online quotes that were quick and simple for customers.
While a lot of this is available with most insurance companies now, it was revolutionary when it occurred. Progressive was an early, “pre-omnichannel” presence that considered all the different ways customers want to shop for and buy insurance.
Omnichannel marketing is the integration of various channels to interact with customers and create a positive, consistent brand experience. This includes websites, social media, informational content, physical store locations, apps, and events. Every touchpoint in the customer and user experience (UX) should be convenient and seamless – the customer can start on one channel and pick up right where they left off in the next. Think “buy online and pick up in store.”
Once reserved for the most maverick and innovative, traditional industries are embracing omnichannel strategies, including finance, health care and automotive industries.
Ultimately, omnichannel marketing is about keeping the customer at the center of all the marketing efforts and interactions. Customers have a lot of opportunities to interact with brands, from brick-and-mortar locations to customer service phone calls to purchasing from a buy button in a Facebook message.
The key with omnichannel messaging is ensuring that the consumer experience is positive and consistent across all these touchpoints. Customers should see a consistent tone and vision, personalized messaging that’s based on their interests or buying behavior, and content that’s informed by the current stage of the buyer’s journey.
Mix traditional and digital marketing
When some old-school industries get on the digital marketing bandwagon, they may decide to skip the traditional methods completely. But direct mail, television and radio ads, trade shows and conferences, magazine ads and other methods are still valuable to many industries.
Traditional industries should focus on a mix of traditional and digital strategies. Even with the most innovative marketing methods, a significant portion of the audience may not be on social channels or using apps.
Conversely, some businesses focus only on brick-and-mortar shopping and local marketing, so they don’t think they need digital marketing. The goal is to connect with customers, and that can happen even if you’re not an “online’ business. Modern consumers are looking for brands and reading reviews to gauge the brand’s reputation – and that’s not just for hot or young brands. They’re looking up information about just about any type of business, including banks, credit unions and local gyms.
The best way to reach these people is with an online presence. Traditional industries need to build an online presence with a website, social media pages and local review pages.
A traditional industry is likely to serve a diverse mix of audiences across age groups, interests, income levels and more. The best way to hit all these audiences is by mixing traditional and digital marketing across numerous channels.
Bring your traditional business into the digital age
Traditional businesses are necessities and often pillars in the community, weathering several revolutions or shake ups that changed the way business was done. While not every marketing innovation is necessary (or even appropriate) for all traditional industries or businesses, incorporating some digital marketing strategy and new technology can only help these businesses stay relevant and reach an entirely new customer.
Without marketing innovation, traditional businesses are not only leaving potential revenue on the table, but risk getting left behind when the next big disruption happens.