Marketing is a key part of any business model. It creates brand awareness, puts you in front of your consumers, and plays a huge role in generating sales, so it’s really important that your business is being marketed in the right way for you. 




In the last decade, digital marketing has taken the business world by storm as social media and online campaigns have proven that they can do a lot for the growth of businesses. Because of this, we have seen many businesses step away from traditional forms of marketing, like magazines and posters. 

But the question people are now asking is, is one better than the other? 

In the latest roundtable hosted by haysmacintyre and the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, a group of founders and experts came together to discuss the argument of Digital vs Traditional Marketing, investigating which one is better, or if they’re both as valuable as the other. The group provided their knowledge and insights on the topic and gave their top tips for fellow business owners.

Brianna Harvey, founder of Digital Flamingo kicked off the conversation by discussing how she approaches marketing strategies with clients. “I’m more on the social media marketing side of things, but the first thing I ask clients I’m working with is, ‘what else are you doing in terms of marketing?’, so we can make things go hand in hand. Digital marketing isn’t there to replace traditional marketing, and I want to make sure that it all ties together. 

“I will also advise clients on things they can do outside of social media so that we can have a greater impact. I don’t think one method is more important than the other – it’s that the intent is different. Social media is there to nurture the audience and bring a community around your brand, whereas traditional marketing can focus more on brand awareness, remind people that you’re there and hopefully lead them to your social media where they can then learn more about the brand and foster brand loyalty,” she said. 

William Ferreira, co-founder of Social Buff whose business works exclusively with eCommerce and D2C brands agreed that even though he should be biased towards digital marketing, traditional marketing still has its place, and is actually making a huge comeback since the pandemic. 

“A lot of the businesses we work with generate 70-80% of their total revenue through advertising on either Google or social media. However, I would say specifically post-pandemic, we’re seeing a lot more reliance on physical activities and brand activations like pop-up retail shops, or going back to experiential and traditional retail. Even though a lot of customer acquisition is still online we’re definitely seeing more people craving experiences from brands.

“A perfect example of this is GymShark opening their first flagship store – a brand that’s fundamentally always been a D2C brand is now looking to diversify its strategy. It shows that it’s becoming more competitive online and brands need to look at how they can diversify those experiences and create real, in-person relationships, which you just can’t do in the same way online.”

Going on to discuss what may be the most cost-effective option in the current climate, when it comes to marketing Rob Lodge, founder of TIN ROBOT said: 

“When we look at the pandemic, the businesses that we saw come out the back of it and stay afloat were the brands that invested in their brand development, through advertising and marketing – and those that didn’t fall behind. Time and time again we’ve seen that those businesses that invest in their marketing during times of struggle, like the current economic crisis, are the ones that make it through.” 

“There are two things that sell your business – advertising and innovation!” he said. “So businesses need to ask themselves, do we want to invest a bit more and be seen, or do we have to cut back to stay afloat.”

“We’re lucky that nowadays if you are one of those businesses that have to cut back, there are a lot of cost-effective ways you can get in front of your audience.” 

Agreeing with Rob on the importance of brand awareness, Dan Gable, founder of ShoutOut, turned the conversation towards the social media platform TikTok, and the benefits apps like this are having on businesses’ digital marketing strategies. 

“I’m really intrigued by TikTok, and the future of influencers on the app, because traditionally you’ll pay someone to expand your brand awareness, but with apps like TikTok, you can generate so much organic growth that was never possible before. I think there’s an interesting shift, where people are making more episodic, thought leadership pieces and honest content, that’s really building brands effectively and building awareness without actually having to sell. You can make some interesting content that will go viral and create more leads for you organically.”

Agreeing with how effective TikTok is for brands, social media expert Skai Pakalnyte, founder of Skai Social said: 

“TikTok is definitely something that I’ve been discussing a lot with my clients. I told my team 6 months ago that TikTok was going to be the next thing and we needed to know everything about it for when clients come to us for help – and that’s exactly what’s happening right now. Brands are panicking, coming to us saying, we have Instagram, but our engagement is down, so how do we start on TikTok? One of the main things we’re focusing on is content creation.”

“Brands are realising that they can’t just show off these beautiful product shots. We need to see people, we need to see faces, we need personality, and we need relatability. We are discussing what type of content businesses are creating, and not necessarily focusing on promotion. We still do Facebook Ads and work on paid content, but our main focus at the moment, and what brands are really needing right now is content that provides value and education.” 

Discussing the conversation, host Luke Clark of haysmacintyre said: “It was really interesting to hear how quickly businesses can build brand awareness through digital platforms such as TikTok. It was also intriguing to hear how other marketing and advertising methods, such as in-game advertising, have arisen as agencies adapt their practices to address changing consumer habits.

“It was evident that such marketing and advertising strategies need to incorporate an element of both digital and traditional activities with a multi-channel approach creating a high level of customer engagement. However, in the current economic situation, it is important for businesses to be able to demonstrate their return on investment in marketing and advertising activities – it appears that this is in the favour of digital marketing which is cheaper and more measurable.”