After meeting with a new client the other day, I began to realize the gap in understanding that often exists within organizations between what has been the norm for marketing traditionally and what is becoming the new norm. I’m talking, of course, about the use of the Internet. While that seems to be a no-brainer for so many of us who spend much of our time and budgets marketing online, there is a whole host of people, businesses and organizations out there who don’t realize the potential of Internet marketing.

At first blush, there are two reasons for this.

First is that they have yet to even embrace the Internet as a marketing tool and, because they don’t use it that much, they don’t realize how many people interact with it on a very regular basis.

The second reason is that, while they may be occasional or even regular Internet users, their depth of experience is rather shallow (and I don’t mean this in an derogatory sense). They don’t actively “surf,” and they may have a handful of sites they feel comfortable visiting on a regular basis, but beyond that, the amount of activity out there is completely foreign to them.

Now, this particular client (like so many others) has a severely limited budget available for marketing. So, I have approached their marketing needs—for the particular project I am being consulted on—from a Web-based perspective, knowing that I can get them the biggest bang for their buck online. To their credit, while maybe not fully understanding the extent to which and the success I hope to help them achieve through Internet marketing, they do get it and are ready to head in this direction.

But after explaining how I plan to approach this project, I still get questions like, “What do you think of direct-mail?” My answer (while admittedly not much of an answer) is usually posed in the form of another question: “Do you want to put your limited marketing eggs in one basket, or do you want to spread them around?” Because, based on the budget you have available to you, I think you’ll blow the whole wad on direct-mail and not get much out of it…or, in many cases, not know how much you’ve gotten out of it.

My reasoning always comes back to measuring results. It is just so hard to know what impact your paper-based marketing has had compared to the metrics you can get from Internet marketing. Not only that, but the impressions are immediate and the costs for production and delivery of your message are so much more reduced.

And then I put on my MarketGreener cap and have to ask the question, “What kind of an environmental impact are you prepared to leave with your marketing?” If you can obtain a physical mailing list, can’t you just as easily obtain an email list for the same people? Sometimes the answer is no, but if you can, your message has much more of an opportunity to make a marketing impact while making a much smaller environmental impact.

I’d like to further examine the relation between these two impacts in a later post, but for now, let’s just assume the Internet approach delivers more immediate results and has a lesser impact.

In this particular case, my challenge isn’t just between the Internet versus traditional print and mail marketing, but working with an organization that has some who embrace the new and some who embrace the old. Walking the fine line between those two isn’t easy, but I remain confident that the organization as a whole—including those from the older generation—are ready for this approach and will be persuaded by the results an Internet marketing program will yield.