digital media vs traditional media

& The Communication Impact On Small Business

Marketing has evolved a lot in the past few decades. These changes have impacted the way all businesses gain and communicate with customers. Small businesses specifically have benefited from this change. The ability to communicate messages with consumers is key for smaller businesses with smaller budgets and no traditional mass media budget. In my experience, digital media is the not so secret weapon for small businesses everywhere (if used effectively). Here we will explore the communication difference between digital and traditional media.

Social media and digital online concept, smiling Asian woman using smartphone and show technology icon.

Digital media refers to any platform using the internet or online capabilities to communicate a message. Examples of digital media include social media platforms, email marketing, blogs, business websites, and search platforms like Google and Yahoo. While traditional media uses more classical (pre-technology advancement methods such as tv, billboards, newspapers, magazines, and direct mailings.

The major difference between the two methods are:

  1. The Price Difference

Small businesses can’t typically afford a billboard or to be printed in nationwide magazine publications, but a Facebook post or website can reach just as many consumers, if not more with the click of a button. While this may not necessarily “level the playing field” against a competitor like Coke or Nike, it does allow newer brands with smaller budgets to communicate who they are, what they offer, and why they should be considered by people around the world. Early on in my best friend’s career as a chef, she became the personal chef for a musical superstar, DJ Khaled. DJ Khaled constantly posted her and her meals on Snapchat and this act got her exposure around the world. Yes, having a celebrity endorsement is impactful but if there were no social media, the likeliness of her becoming a known celebrity chef within a few months would’ve taken much longer to cultivate. As a result, she now cooks for household names on a daily basis. 

2. Direct Communication and Engagement

Think about it: There is a benefit to passing by the same billboard every day on your way to work because repetition embeds brands into the minds of consumers. The same with seeing the same commercial on tv a few times a week. But the void here is that there’s no interaction to answer lingering questions or give supportive details or build a relationship with the consumer. Email marketing or search engines like Yelp offer businesses and consumers the opportunity to communicate and engage. This is a valuable tool for small businesses. I recently posted a logo I’d designed and a follower inboxed me and began a conversation that lead to me taking her on as a client…. A newspaper ad doesn’t allow that level of connection.

burger billboard on highway 3d rendering mockup

3. Keeping Track of Strategy Effectiveness

  1. Keeping Track of Strategy Effectiveness

We have all filled out a survey that asks, “How did you hear about us?”. This question is often asked by businesses so they can try to understand which marketing method effectively bought them, new customers, as a way to keep track of what’s working. But what’s the problem with this? Firstly, we don’t get asked this every time we make a new purchase. Then, say you do complete this survey and you say you saw an ad on TV… ok but when did you first see the commercial? Did you see it multiple times? How long did it take you to make a purchase between first seeing the commercial and actually spending money? Which channel did you see it on? Was it during the day or at night? Is that the only outlet that exposed you to this business? There are often so many unanswered questions left from traditional marketing communications because it is difficult to track. Whereas you can see when a person visited your website, which pages they visited, how long they were on each page, what channels they used to find your site if they follow you on social media, and how much they engage with you there. This is all vital information for a small business with limited resources because it helps to direct you on where to focus your efforts and budget.


Overall, both marketing methods has their benefits but, in my opinion, it is undeniable the way digital media benefits entrepreneurs and small business. This isn’t to say your small business should avoid traditional marketing methods because, in truth, it should be a mix of both. However, it is important to set goals for each and understand what you are trying to accomplish when creating your integrated marketing plan. All your marketing efforts should support each other and maybe one day you’ll have the next Coca-Cola.

Running a small business can be challenging in today’s climate but with the right tools, your endeavor can become a thriving enterprise. Planning and goal-setting are essential for consistent branding and marketing in your organization. When in doubt, consult a professional or visit King Marketing 101 for tips and resources. 


Raymell King-Foster (Ray), has a Bachelors in Business & Organizational Leadership in Orlando, FL and a professional background in non-profit, education, marketing design, and management. She is the President and Creative Director of King Creative Solutions, a creative design agency that delivers high-quality design, strategies, and expertise to their clients.

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