Differences in Marketing Between Online and Television: What’s the Difference?

A common question I get asked is: “What is the difference between online marketing and traditional marketing?” The answer is actually pretty straightforward: While online marketing is everywhere and available anytime, traditional marketing happens in-person. With that said, here are a few differences:

Marketing to Different Audiences

One of the first differences is that online marketing targets a very wide audience that isn’t necessarily interested in your product. With that in mind, you can develop marketing strategies and campaigns geared towards attracting different types of people. For example, if you’re selling designer clothing, you might want to develop a blog or social media campaign that appeals to fashion enthusiasts. Alternatively, if your product is geared towards kids, you might want to develop a YouTube channel that focuses on fun and entertaining videos.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, traditional marketing usually targets a very narrow audience that is very interested in your product. For example, if you’re selling designer clothing, you might want to focus on the luxury retail community or the fashion industry in general. The idea is to identify a smaller audience that has the utmost interest in your product and apply all of your marketing efforts towards them. In other words, your goal is to find the “golden audience” that will buy your product exclusively.

No Budget

Budgets drive decisions. Without a budget in place, there’s no telling what you might do. However, when you do have a budget, you can be sure that you won’t waste any money. The same concept applies to marketing. If you have limits on how much you can spend on marketing, you’ll have to be strategic about how you use your funds. You might want to develop a social media campaign that gets tons of engagement and doesn’t cost a penny.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, traditional marketing usually requires a lot of money. You might have to shell out thousands of dollars to get top-notch agencies to develop a branded website or get famous bloggers to promote your product. Alternatively, you could pay expensive copy writers to develop marketing material such as blog posts, press releases, and etc.

Measurable Results

While there’s no denying that having a nice-looking website or social media account with a ton of engaged followers is fun and exciting, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll make any money. The key is to develop a marketing plan that sets measurable goals, such as increasing web traffic or getting coverage in the top-tier media outlets. With that in mind, you can be sure that you’ll know exactly what happened and how much you saved or spent.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you won’t have many tangible results from online marketing. Although you might gain a few fans on social media, your ability to measure the effectiveness of that campaign is virtually impossible. It’s also difficult to attribute specific results to a digital marketing campaign. For example, did that $10,000 Facebook ad have anything to do with that celebrity blogger promoting your product on their blog? While there’s no denying that social media is a powerful and effective tool for marketing, it’s also very difficult to tell what actually happened. As the old saying goes, if it isn’t measured, it doesn’t get improved.


If your product is designed to be sold in large quantities, you might want to consider developing a scalable marketing strategy. This just means that you’ll need to be able to replicate the same results time and time again. On the opposite end of the spectrum, one-off events such as celebrity endorsements or high-profile media placements can be difficult to scale up. Once the media spotlight has faded, so too will your efforts. Even worse, your brand might become toxic to future potential customers.

On the other hand, if you have a product that can be easily supplied to retail stores or sold online, you can develop a marketing plan that will scale. For example, if you’re selling clothing, you could put together a pop-up store in a trendy neighborhood or create an e-commerce store where consumers can browse and buy your product. In other words, you’ll need to find a way to get your product in front of as many potential customers as possible.

More Personal

While there’s nothing wrong with a one-to-one marketing approach where you talk to individual customers via social media, email, or phone calls, there’s something more personal about in-person marketing. If you have a physical presence in the community, you can engage with more people. The same concept applies to marketing. If you’re presenting your product in the flesh, you’re able to engage in a more personal way. Instead of distributing marketing material or performing marketing tasks, you can walk the walk and talk the talk. In other words, you can demonstrate your product in use and answer questions directly.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, marketing via digital means is very personable. You’ll be able to establish a much more personal connection with customers. This is because consumers can have immediate and direct communication with business owners and managers regarding questions about the product. In other words, you’ll be able to offer much more individualized support than you could if you relied solely on digital marketing.

Less Stressful

When you work with a reputable marketing agency, you won’t have to worry about producing high-quality material on short notice or rushing to get it done before a deadline. Instead, you can sit back and relax while they take care of everything. In other words, less stress means more time for you to do the things you love. On the opposite end of the spectrum, trying to promote a new product or engage with bloggers on your own can be highly demanding. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to creating high-quality content on a regular basis, digital marketing might not be for you.

On the other hand, an in-person marketing approach is very stress-free. You can literally start and stop marketing campaigns as you see fit. For example, if you have an event coming up and you want to promote it on social media, you could always decide to postpone that campaign until later. Or, if you want to take a more prolonged break from social media, you could stop promoting products online for a while and resume your in-person marketing efforts when the time is right.


As you might imagine, there are many pros and cons to each type of marketing. If you want to increase your sales, you might want to consider developing a mix of tactics. For example, if you’re lucky enough to have a lot of disposable income, you might want to invest in creating a branded website or getting a reputable digital marketing agency to help you develop a social media campaign. Alternatively, if you have a product that is better suited to be sold in-person, you might want to develop a strategy that promotes that product line.