The Pros and Cons of Traditional vs. Online Event Promotion

Discussions about whether to use traditional promotional avenues or emerging online resources to promote your event is a hot topic among event planners with potentially high costs.

Choose the wrong path and you may double your costs or even fail to reach your community along with the fundraising goals you’ve set for your event. But as our online habits continue to evolve it becomes less clear which method is best.

Understanding the pros and cons of both traditional and online promotion is the best way to get the greatest return on your investment, yet each carry with it specific characteristics which affect it’s efficiency and cost. We’ve put together a list of pros and cons of each to help you decide what will work best for your group.

A Look at Traditional Media

Advertising on radio and television and print advertising like direct mail, billboards, magazine and newspaper ads, marketing and sales materials all fall under the category of traditional marketing.

The Pros

Familiarity. Receiving promotional news through a traditional source is a trusted and familiar way to communicate. It also provides a sensory experience. Not only can we see the information, we can touch, feel, hear and interact with the message, which makes it much more memorable to the receiver.

Coverage. For nonprofits whose communities have a multi-generational reach, including traditional media in your plan continues to be a requirement. Social media networks and other non-traditional media is the preferred mode of receiving information for millennials, while baby boomers still consider it a fun, but not necessary communication tool, and Gen-Xers seek information out on both fronts.

TIP: Click over to Greater Giving’s webinar, “Generational Differences in Fundraising” to hear a discussion on the opportunities to engage all generations.

The Cons

Forced marketing. Traditional media is typically a method that is delivered without the consent of the receiver. They experience it as one of the many who receive it through the mail, in television and radio ads and between the pages of magazines and newspapers. This type of generalized saturation delivers a very low response rate.

Unfamiliar branding. As the amount of communication grows exponentially, the need for a loyal community also grows. Unfortunately, traditional media, with its indiscriminate distribution, doesn’t have the effectiveness factor on its side when compared to social networks that have actively worked to promote their branding prior to the event. Without significant brand recognition, most people who see your message won’t remember it for long.

Examining Pros and Cons of Online Promotional Platforms

Digital marketing via websites, blogs and social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, have become immensely popular (and expected) tools for event promotion.

The Pros

Focused reach. The advantage held by online advertising to disseminate your message to a pre-determined group of interested people is a big advantage online promotional campaigns. Your community is already engaged and are ready and eager to carry that promotional message into their network with just a click.

Growing your network, and your brand. Providing your established community with a reason to share your message is not only a great way to advertise your event, it also provides you with a chance to court new members into your community.

Instant reporting.The return on investment made in promoting events online can be astronomical, financially and in terms of increasing the interest in your work. Through the various platforms’ reporting features, you will learn a lot about your community, providing you with extra value.

TIP: Strike a balance between traditional and emerging media with the 80/20 rule. Invest in 20% traditional marketing and 80% social marketing, using messages, graphics, images and videos.

The Cons

Limited audience. While there may be an endless number of ways to reach your community on the web, there is only one Internet. If your targeted audience is not web savvy or choose to only occasionally engage with it, there’s a large chance your message won’t be seen.

Traditional VS Social

While the battle is ongoing, there is a clear front-runner. The effectiveness of traditional media for promoting an event is decreasing as a younger, more connected generation is maturing. However, that doesn’t mean the conventional methods should be entirely dismissed, as value is still found in reaching people through printed ads, television and radio. Striking the right balance can be found in a keen understanding of who represents your community currently, and where the next generation is turning to for information about the causes they care about most.

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