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Showing posts from 2009

The Proof is in the Search Results

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After I claimed yesterday that "local marketing is where it's at", two camp directors emailed me (I'm still waiting for some public comments) wanting to know why I think marketing to your local community, rather than all over the place, is the best way to spend your marketing efforts and budget.

The proof is in the search results.

Try this experiment. Go to Google and key in some vague or indistinct terms. Try "milk," “french fries,” “grocery stores,” even "summer camps." What do you see?

You see that Google will almost always return LOCAL results from your query, often on a map connected to your computer's IP address. Google is doing your marketing work for you!

Now do you see why marketing local is where it's at?


If Your Camp's on Facebook...

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Check out these 5 Facebook Predictions for 2010, courtesy of Mashable.



Top 7 Summer Camp Marketing Strategies for 2010

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Check out these Top 7 Marketing Strategies for 2010 and leave your competitors in the dust.

1. Have a Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan doesn't need to be long or involved. The simpler, the better. You can write an effective marketing plan in 7 sentences. Your plan needs to be flexible enough that you can make changes on the fly, but firm enough so you know whether it's working and you've reached your goals. You probably won't know whether or not your plan is working for at least 6 months.

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

More and more people will find your camp online. But if you're not showing up on the first page of search results you're swimming upstream. You've gotta make it easy for online users to find you. Your program will look MUCH more credible in a prospect's eyes when you come up naturally in the search results compared to forcing paid ads on them. Update your website and blog with fresh content every week, get other sites to link to your…

Your Environmentally Friendly Camp

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Marketing your camp with a "green" approach isn't just a socially and environmentally responsible thing to do, but your customers and prospects expect it. Research shows the majority consumers worldwide prefer purchasing products and services from businesses and organizations with pro-environment reputations. What are you doing at camp to show your support for "green?"

At our summer camp (a beach and surf camp in Los Angeles), we make it a point to align ourselves with like-minded environmental groups inlcuding ocean conservation organizations. We've organized beach clean up days with our campers and discuss beach and ocean ecology with our kids. In an effort to become an entirely paperless camp, we've even stopped printing camp brochures and put all our info online.

If your camp hasn't embraced the "going green" movement, now's the time. Here are a few Web pages to visit to help you get started:

1. http://money.cnn.com/2007/03/26/maga…

2010 Camp Marketing Tip: How to Make Every Marketing Dollar You Spend Do the Work of Two

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Here's how to get twice as much from your marketing budget next year as you did this year: Drop from your marketing plan what didn't work for you in 2009, and double up on what did.

Does this Blog Suck?

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Hundreds of camp people read this blog every day. Almost none of them post any comments. That means you don't care enough about marketing to discuss it, you're embarrassed to ask any questions, or this blog sucks. (Obviously I'm biased, but I don't think it sucks because so many people read it.) So, what's the deal? Let's talk about marketing your camp!

How to Write Strong Website Title and Desciption Tags

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Opinions differ on which meta tags are most important to search engines. One thing we do know: the "keyword" tag is no longer a factor for Google, but the "title" and "description" tags are an important part of your camp's search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, especially now that Google's showing real time search results.

For your title tag, it's not a bad idea to include your camp's name plus a description of your web page and specific keywords relevant to it. Keep your title tag to 65 characters or less, including spaces.

Your description tag identifies your website's (or web page's) information most search engines will display on their search results page.

Your description content generally influences whether or not a person will click on the search results and visit your site. That's you need to write strong, clear, concise descriptions for each page of your web site.

Try to keep your description to 160 characters or …

Why Your Camp MUST be Listed as High as Possible in the Search Enging Rankings

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Did you know the top 3 search results on any given page gets almost 80% of the clicks? That's why it's SO crucial to get your camp listed as high as possible in the search result rankings. If you can't up to the top 3, you can still get to the first page with enough work. And the first page is good enough. We'll look at some of the ways to do it in the coming days and weeks.


Direct Mail Marketing Tips for Your Camp

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Is direct mail part of your camp's marketing strategy? It's a big part of mine. Direct mail can pay off HUGE when done the right way. It can also be costly if you don't do it right.

You've got printing and postage costs to contend with. You've got the time and money involved with creating your mailer in the first place. You need to buy a mailing list (unless you're mailing to your in house/current list). Then you gotta figure out how to cut through the clutter of all the other mail your prospect gets so yours stands out from the crowd.

Here's one thing about direct mail: repetition counts. Your should send out your stuff on a regular basis -- month after month if possible --  to help your prospect to warm up to your offer and gain trust in you.

(And here's a related tip: You're much more likely to have much better results sending your mailer to 1,000 people three times in a row than to 3,000 people just one time.)

Here's a few more tips I've le…

More camp marketing blogs coming soon...

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I've been on vacation and now staying another day because my wife and kids are sick and can't travel. But I hope to be home tomorrow and resume blogging if all goes well. Happy Holidays!

How fast is your website?

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Nothing good comes from a slow website, but faster websites have everything going for them. In fact, the speed with which your camp's web site loads should be part of your search engine and website optimization strategy. So, how fast is your site? Find out here.

Social Media might be more than just Facebook, Twitter and your Blog

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With 2009 winding down, now's a great time to review your social media marketing strategy for 2010. There's so many social sites out there, you can get overwhelmed. If you have a blog you update regularly, a twitter account and a Facebook fan page, that should be enough. But if you're a social media junkie, check out LinkedIn, Yelp, Foursquare and Ning (where you can create your own social network). Depending on your goals, you might find some or all of these work just as well, if not better for you, than just Facebook, twitter and your blog


Who's Your Primary Marketing Audience?

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Don't forget to take our latest Poll about your primary marketing audience. Vote now above this post.


Happy Holidays

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Hi Everyone,
I'll be on vacation with my family for the next two weeks, but I will try to blog sometimes, if possible. Have a great Holiday!
Regards,
Eric



How to Get the Most out of Twitter

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When twitter first came out, and even as it gained popularity, I always thought it was a fad. I was wrong. Using twitter the right way can really benefit your camp. One day maybe I'll write a blog post entitled, "Top 100 Ways You Can Use Twitter at Camp." Meanwhile here's 12 ways to get you started.



Do You Make This Mistake at Camp Fairs?

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Recently I blogged about how to make the most of camp fairs.  Before you go to the Camp Fair it might be wise to make a list of things you hope to accomplish there. But one of your goals at any Camp Fair should be to convey quality, creditably, trust and professionalism so prospects consider your camp as a possibilty among all the other camps in attendence.

But the number one mistake I've noticed is that lots of camp representatives stay seated behind their tableat the back of their booths while prospects walk right by.

You know the saying, "You only get one chance to make a good first impression?" Well, Camp Fairs may be the first time a prospect has seen or heard of your camp. That's why it's so crucial you stand the entire time with a positive attitude while proactively greeting those who come by your booth.

Common sense, right? Seems like it. But too many times I've seen camp directors who stay seated behind a table looking bored. They give the impressio…

How to Market Your Camp with Coupons

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You may already know I'm a BIG proponent of marketing with coupons. Studies show coupon use among consumers continues to rise. Everyone wants to save a buck or two. So if you offer some kind of discount at your camp, you're likely to pick some new customers you wouldn't have otherwise gotten.

You also might know I run my own Coupon website exclusively for camps. It's called Camp Coupons.com. If you're interested, you can put a coupon on there for free. How often do you get the chance to promote your program for free?

However you use the Camp Coupons.com site is up to you. You can list any kind discount you want. Aloha Beach Camp offers $25 off a camp session of 5 days or more. Another camp offers a free horseback riding lesson. Another discounted registration. It's totally up to you.

Best thing about Camp Coupons is, it's produced on a blog-style platorm meaning it's updated often. The more it's updated, the higher and faster the site will rise in …

Three More Sites to Help You Enable your Website on Cell Phones

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I've blogged before about the importance of making your site clearly visible on mobile devices. Site.mobi is one site to check out. Here's three more:

Mofuse.com
Mippin.com
Mobi Site Galore.com



2 Websites Where You Can List Your Camp for Free

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Two quick points while I'm thinking of them:

1. If you run a surf camp, add it to Surf Camp Search.com. Tons of people visit that site every day looking for surf camps for their kids. It's free to add your camp, so do it today.

2. ALL camps should get listed on Camp Coupons.com, another website where you can get FREE exposure for your program. In these tough times, everyone's looking for a discount, so if your camp's not there, you're missing a big opportunity.


Camp Marketing: Old vs. New

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Marketing the old way: We told customers about our camps.

Marketing the new way: Customers tell us about our camps, and we tailor our marketing accordingly.


Remember, you're marketing to Parents AND Kids Alike

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Important point to remember: you're marketing your camp to two distinct, but directly connected, market segments: Parents and their kids.

Parents want to know their kids will have fun at camp, make new friends, and be safe. Kids want to be with their friends, feel like they belong, be trendsetters and hip.

Keep this in mind as you market your camp.


Best Three Ways to Use Social Media (Wall Street Journal)

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Nice Wall Street Journal article about the top three ways to use social media marketing.


Add Your Blog to Google's Blog Search

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Just to be on the safe side, make sure Google's indexing your blog. Go here to add your blog today.


Why Video Marketing and Sharing is So Important To Your Camp

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If you read this blog regularly you know I'm a big Internet, social media and viral marketing nut. So don't be surprised when I make this prediction: Your camp video could become the #1 way people find you online in 2010 and beyond.

For one thing, kids EVERYWHERE already use youtube, vimeo, blip tv, daily motion and similar sites not only to watch videos, but importantly, to make comments and share them with friends. If you ever wanted your video to go viral, THIS is how it happens.

Here's another thing that might blow you away. Search engines (especially Google) already love videos, but soon they'll love them more.

Google, Yahoo, and Bing are developing more sophisticated search abilities within videos themselves. Today the search engines only "read" meta-tags (keywords) and video titles to help display search results for users. That's changing.

Soon video search capabilities will include image recognition, and possibly even voice recognition, making w…

Increase Camper Retention with Annual Customer Surveys

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Wanna know a great way to keep customers engaged in your camp and keep coming back summer after summer? Send them a survey each year.

If your families feel invested in your camp and know their opinion matters (and if you actually implement some of their suggestions), they'll feel more valued because they'll know their opinion counts. In turn, you'll be rewarded with a higher camper return rate. You can't beat that!

The best time to survey your customers is after camp ends in September. Your survey doesn't have to be long or involved. In fact, the less complicated the better. Survey Monkey or another online tool is the easiest way to get started.

Your goal is to keep making your camp better. Your customers are the ones who tell you how.



I'll Bet Your Camp's Website Looks Like Hell on a Cell Phone

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I’ll bet your website looks like hell on a cell phone. Mine sure does. So we both need to do something about it or we’re gonna piss of our customers. Then they'll go to a different camp’s website that DOES work on their cell phones. We don't want that!


Try this experiment. Check our your camp's website on your cell phone. Not too pretty, right?

Here’s why I’m writing this post. Last night I was talking to one of my camp directors, Lisa Correa, on her cell phone. I asked her to jump on her computer so I could show her a new website I found.

"I don't have a computer," she said, "because my cell phone's my computer.”

Lisa’s not alone. Did you know four times as many cell phones are bought for every one personal computer? That means there’s a shitload of people whose main Internet access point is via their cell phones.

Problem is, most websites don’t work on cell phones.

To get them to work, you need:

1. A .mobi domain name address (.coms don't g…

Need New Keyword Ideas? Check this out

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Here's a great tool you can use to see how many people are searching on your keywords. Even better, it offers additional keyword suggestions maybe you never considered before. It's free, so start using it today!



Email/Feed Subscription Tool Finally Fixed!

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Some subscribers to this blog (via email or a reader) have mentioned formatting problems. Some posts aren't being formatted correctly or people are seeing the same post twice. Sorry about that -- I think it's all fixed now.



How to Make the Most of Camp Fairs

It's only December but you might be thinking about Camp Fairs. My two favorite things about Camp Fairs are you get to meet hundreds of prospects in a very short time, and they're not just any old prospects, they're RED HOT prospects.

The thing about Camp Fairs is, it's not like you took out a newspaper ad and you're hoping someone sees it. The only reason people come to a Camp Fair in the first place is to get information for their kids. That's why they're red-hot prospects.

You need to make the most of this opportunity. But how?

Try to see the Camp Fair from your prospect's perspective. Attending a Camp Fair can be overwhelming for a parent. I've been to some with over 200 attending. Families are going booth-to-booth getting information and brochures and all that while meeting dozens of camp representatives. Eventually all the camps start looking alike to them. You gotta do something to stand out from the crowd.

The temptation is to flag as many p…

Does your website have a sitemap? Google wants it to!

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Does your Website have a Sitemap? Not only do sitemaps make navigating your website easier for your users, Google recommends you have one to make your site more "Google friendly." You can manually create your own sitemap or use a wizard or generator to help you. If you don't have a sitemap now, put one online as soon as you can.




Social Media With Kids

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Cradle to Grave Marketing ... How to get Customers For Life

New Website for Tweens Can Have a BIG BENEFIT on Your Marketing

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If you're like me, part of your marketing plan targets "tweens." That's why I thought you'd find this new website, TweenTribune.com, especially interesting.

Tween Tribune is a daily news site for tweens. Tweens post their own content, share links, make comments and all that. If I were you, I'd visit the site on a daily basis to monitor what's new and hot from a tween's perspective. Doing so can pay BIG dividends for your camp. Once you learn what tweens are into, you can tailor your marketing accordingly. Here's an example.

If you're on the Tween Tribune website and notice a conversation about horseback riding, you might find a way to share your own info about the equestrian program at your camp. The kids on the site might find that pretty cool!

That's just one example. There's many more ways you can use Tween Tribue to your advantage. Hope you find the site useful. I'm going on it right now...




Get Camp Marketing Tips from the ACA Message Boards

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If you haven't been on the American Camp Association message boards lately, have a look now. You might pick up a new marketing idea or two. And you can engage in some cool marketing discussions with other camp owners and directors.




What Can Tiger Woods Teach Us?

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We hope we never need it, but crisis management is something we all must prepare for at camp. Here's what we can learn from the Tiger Woods debacle.



Newspaper Advertising: The Good and the Bad

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I just got off the phone with a camp director in Maine. She wanted to know my thoughts about newspaper advertising. I'm against it for my own camp. But I know some other camp directors who use it effectively.

Like anything else, newspaper advertising has its pros and cons. On the plus side, it's highly targeted; you can usually choose the section where you want your ad to appear. If you're marketing to moms, you might pick the Home and Garden or Parenting sections. You probably wouldn't pick the Sports page.

Other benefits of advertising newspapers? People generally equate newspapers as reliable sources of information. Also, some folks read the newspaper for the ads alone.

On the downside, there's no "shelf life" with newspaper advertising. People generally throw away (or hopefully recycle) the newspaper the very day they read it. That means your ad is there one minute, then gone the next.

Also, newsprint generally doesn't lend itself to high qualit…

Send Your Customers a "Happy New Year" Card!

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Here's a great way to stand out from the crowd and keep your camp's name in front of your customers: Send them a "Happy New Year" card.

Maybe you already send your families Christmas or Holiday cards. That's a nice thing to do. But everyone does that. So your card might get lost in the clutter.

How many camps do you think send New Year's cards to their customers? None that I know of.

Why don't you be the first one?

I get a Thanksgiving card from my accountant every November. The main reason I remember that is because he's the only one who does it. What an opportunity to stand out from the crowd!

Sending a New Year's card to camp families doesn't need to be expensive. You can use a postcard. On the front, just say, "Happy New Year" with a photo of camp. On the back, include a short message along with another photo and your contact information.

It's an easy way to keep your camp at the forefront of your customer's minds when …

Does Your Camp Have Its Own Username on Facebook?

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Now you can get your own own vanity URL / username on your camp's facebook fanpage. It's much easier and less "clunky" than the typical facebook page address almost everyone else uses. And it'll look so much better on your marketing materials when promoting your page to the public. Here's the deal.

My old facebook fan page url for my own camp used to look like this:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/malibu-CA/Aloha-Beach-and-Surf-Summer-Camp/7856064762

But now it looks like this:

http://www.facebook.com/alohabeachcamp

See the difference? It's so much cleaner. And it's easier for you and others to remember.

You'll need at least 25 fans to get your camp's distinct username on Facebook. If you have that many, go to http://www.facebook.com/username to get yours today.



Now you can update all your statuses right from your blog

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Updating all your different social media accounts can be a pain in the ass. You gotta jump around from facebook to twitter to whatever else you use to connect with customers and prospects. Check out twitterfeed.com. It's an easy and convenient way to update everything directly from one place -- your blog.



The Definitive Twitter Guide Book

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Using Twitter's a great way to give your customers and prospects up-to-the minute info from camp. Here's EVERTHING you ever wanted to know about this red hot social marketing tool.



More Women Using Facebook. (Aren't They Your Target Market?)

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I assume "moms" comprise a huge segment of your camp's target market. Here's proof positive they're on Facebook, and that you should be connecting with them.



The Difference Between a Shitty Business Card and One that Stands Out From the Crowd

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Just got back from a networking meeting at local chamber of commerce where I collected lots of business cards from members. Every single business card was the same old stale, traditional card you'd find anywhere -- a white card with black print and all that. You couldn't tell one from the next.

My business card includes pictures of happy campers, beautiful surroundings, trained counselors and a coupon on the back for discounted camp tuition.

Does your business card stand out from the crowd? I hope so!




Search Engine Optimization Tip

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Here's a tip to get your site listed higher in the search engine rankings: integrate your keywords into the written content at the very top and very bottom of your web pages.



GoDaddy.com: Your Best Chice For Low-Cost Domains

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I hope you have a website for your camp. If you don't, you need to get one, NOW!

Either way, I suggest using godaddy.com to either purchase your new domain name(s) or transfer existing ones. You'll save good money.

For example, I registered my camp's domain name, http://www.alohabeachcamp.com, at godaddy for only $6.95 whereas other registrars wanted up to $15 or more. They even have a deal where you can get a domain name for only $1.99. Check it out.



Follow us on Twitter and Subscribe via Email

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Don't forget to follow us on twitter and subscribe to this blog via email.



Great Social Media Marketing Video

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One of the better videos I've seen on social media marketing. I'm working on a new post on "Social Marketing 101," but meanwhile, check this out:




How to Get Your Camp Video to the Top of Google's Video Rankings

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Do you post camp videos to youtube, Google and other video sites? Consider changing the description from time to time.

Remember, Google LOVES new content, and since it typically considers your video descriptions as content, this could help move your video closer to the front of the search engine rankings.

Just make sure your description accurately reflects the conent of your video and you'll be in good shape.



Camp Marketing Workshop, Coming Your Way

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I'm gonna put on a marketing workshop late next spring or early fall. I'll teach you everything I know about how to market your camp and beat your competition. I'll have some guest speakers from other industries sharing their insider marketing secrets, too, so you can apply them at your camp. Here's some of the things we'll review :

How to market your camp with social media
How to market your camp on the internet
How to design a better camp brochure
How to save money on marketing costs I guarantee this conference will knock your socks off.  More info soon.



There's too many coments on this blog!

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Thank you EVERYONE for all your wonderful comments! There's so many, I can barely keep up responding to them! (Oh....wait....you mean NOBODY'S commented yet? Ooops...my mistake.)



How to Pimp Your Twitter Background

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Why be on Twitter if you're gonna get lost in the crowd and look like everyone else? Here's how to make your camp's twitter background stand out!



Does Your Camp Belong to the Chamber of Commerce?

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Does your camp belong to the local Chamber of Commerce or any organized networking groups? Becoming known in your community is important for all camps -- and especially for days camps because they generally serve local customers.

You or your camp marketing representative(s) should make a point of joining at least two of these groups. But joining is only half the job.

Your membership in the group means nothing unless you actively participate. You've gotta attend the meetings and get involved and network and all that. You never know who'll you'll meet, and you'll be pleasantly surprised how much word-of-mouth marketing you can derive from this.



Don't Let Anyone Tell You Traditonal Marketing is Dead

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I just watched this video claiming traditional marketing methods "are dead." The company's argument is social media marketing killed it. I say, BULLSHIT.

Social media marketing is important. It should be a staple of your marketing plan. But don't let anyone tell you traditional marketing is gone. Social media marketing DOES NOT, SHOULD NOT, and WILL NOT EVER make traditional marketing go away.

In fact, you execute your marketing plan the right way, these two marketing strategies will compliment each other nicely and work hand-in-hand.