The dawn of digital media is here already

Welcome to a new day! The way companies and brands connect with customers is changing so drastically that, if you’re still rubbing your eyes, you better wake up fast.

Look at your own behavior. Where do you get breaking news? How do you connect with friends and family? Do you find yourself ordering everything from dinner to toilet paper online? (I may need a bigger front porch just for Amazon boxes.)

The point is, what was popular five years ago is outdated today. So, what’s next?

Focus shift

Digital media is outpacing other channels, and companies are getting on board. Digital ad spending is expected to surpass TV by 2018. Social media advertising will likely exceed $35 billion in 2017.

I’ve watched closely as traditional advertising shifts to reach consumers with new and improved approaches. Influencer marketing is one groundbreaking tactic. A recent Nielsen study suggests 92 percent of people trust individual recommendations over brands.

Same message, different channel

At Donatos, we work to understand this new world. Simply, marketing can be boiled down to: 1) What you say (message), 2) Where you say it (medium) 3) How you say it (creative). Understanding your audience and your brand guides all decisions.

At Donatos, our message is our “mission to promote goodwill.” All attitudes and behaviors center around: How can we make a difference (no matter how small) in the lives of our associates, our customers and the community as a whole? That message never changes. But where and how we communicate is changing exponentially.

Video — YouTube has generated 70+ million hours of watch time and over 1 billion video views. That pales in comparison to the fact that consumers are expected to spend two hours a day watching video in 2017.

Mobile — A recent study by Deloitte found that Americans collectively check their smartphones upwards of 8 billion times per day. Mobile connects us with the right individual at the right time, in the right place.

Social media — Social media marketing accounted for 12 percent of marketing budgets in 2016. It’s predicted to grow to 24 percent in the next few years. There are endless opportunities to share your brand’s voice and content. Here you’ll see some of the highest conversion rates and brand loyalty increases.

Experiential — Customers are tired of traditional advertising. Ninety-six percent of consumers who have a great experience with a brand are more inclined to purchase. That can take many forms, from the pizza night experience itself, to music festivals like Fashion Meets Music or Buckeye Country Superfest where fans eat our pizza and dance to live music.

Influencer — Brand partnerships with bloggers and social influencers are changing marketing. According to Forbes, influencer marketing garners twice the sales as paid advertising. With influencers looking for new content, it’s a win-win.

Brands must open their sleepy eyes — and integrate traditional techniques with the new to build customer relationships.

I’ve never been more excited to share our brand with so many new customers. Listen to your customers, understand what’s important to them and how they make decisions…and go! It’s burning daylight out there!

Tom Krouse is the President and CEO of Donatos Pizza, with over three decades of restaurant industry experience, countless civic contributions and an award-winning career in marketing and management.