The Journey from Offline to Digital


The Beginning

Way back in 2011, I was one of the founders, owners, and operators of Calls Direct – one of the first pay-per-call marketing agencies based out of Santa Barbara, California. I was working with some of my best friends in the world and having an absolute blast. We had some huge clients with great brands and we were constantly being fed business by our sister company, Impact Radius (now Impact). Honestly, things were great.

As we all came from a more “old school” marketing background (especially in light of today’s approaches) we were focused on all things offline like TV, radio, and print. Consumers were actually watching TV commercials! Consumers didn’t have access to Spotify or thousands of podcasts. . . they actually listened to the radio AND the commercials. Facebook? What the hell was that? We used our cell phones mostly to TALK ON THE PHONE. It was a simpler time, now get off my lawn!

But as the years passed, we were exposed to digital marketing. And we immediately became believers. Our first experience was with a young punk named, Anthony Paluzzi (my current business partner and CEO). He was 23 years old and loved to crack jokes and photoshop our faces onto some weird pics. . . he was hilarious and we immediately got along.. Along with a couple of his friends (including Chris Langevin, Palo’s Director of Business Development), we were exposed to a brave new world. . . mobile search marketing.

These calls were different. They were user-generated. They were highly qualified. The ability to scale was basically limitless. And we were making a TON of money. At Calls Direct, we were starting to see the writing on the wall – we were going to take this new approach to find consumers a hell of a lot more seriously. We partnered up with Anthony and crew on a couple of other campaigns and our relationship, as future business partners, was cemented.

For me personally, digital marketing was, and frankly still is, an exciting opportunity to leverage. Want to know when I truly understood how big digital marketing, especially mobile marketing, was? I was dealing with a colicky baby and walking the streets of Santa Barbara bouncing him for hours trying to get him to stop crying. I was going insane. I decided to play a little game to pass the time. I decided to count the cars that went by and see how many drivers were looking down at their phone. 34 out of 50 of them! No exaggeration. 68% of drivers were so addicted to their mobile devices that they chose to look at them versus paying attention while driving 40 miles an hour. There were 2 lessons that evening. (1) I needed to watch out for these terrible drivers and (2) I needed to focus on the digital space.

 

The Now

Fast forward 9 years and I’m even happier than I was back then. I’ve joined forces with Anthony and the business he founded, Palo Media. We’re doing a ton of work in digital: mobile search and display, social media, co-reg, organic, you name it. We have an internal search team, lead by a total guru, Gene Morris. We’re able to actually take feedback from an advertiser and optimize campaigns based on that feedback. Watching Gene and team build campaigns with our advertiser’s feedback has been a thing of beauty and makes me proud that we’re doing right by the buyer.
Back in the day, we had to invest a lot of money on a hunch. . . there was so much finger-crossing that I now have arthritis. We didn’t know any better back then but, man, there was so much risk you had to endure. The beauty of digital is that you can get really scientific about things. You can test with much smaller budgets. You can track EXACTLY how each ad campaign is performing. You can make edits and tweaks to a campaign in mere minutes versus weeks or months.

As an offline marketing company or agency, you NEED to add a digital component to your business. It will give you the ability to (1) scale and (2) optimize performance for you and/or your clients. Whether you utilize an agency like Palo to handle your digital for you, or you decide to try to tackle this beast yourself, it’s a move that you have to consider.

So, that means that Palo is strictly focused on digital and isn’t open to any offline marketing methods, right? As my favorite TV personality, Lee Corso, always says. . . “not so fast!”. With the way things are changing so rapidly in our space, Palo is working on diversifying our media mix as well as which verticals we are operating in. We feel that by adding offline media, like TV, Radio, print, etc, we will accomplish a few things:

Perform better with certain offers/demographics – for example, we believe that offline media performs very well with older demographics
Reduce risk – as many of us in the digital world completely understand, one change in rules and regulations by, say, Google, can totally upend a business. By having multiple avenues of traffic, we will be able to better navigate these inevitable hiccups
Supplement/scale volume – there comes a time in every marketer’s life in which scaling at an acceptable CPA becomes extremely difficult. Competitors crowd the space. Keywords become prohibitively expensive. Performance decreases. By adding offline channels, we are able to increase volume, increase sales, and optimize our campaigns

 

The Future

So, now we’re going to become experts in every offline marketing channel out there, right? Wrong. We’re forming partnerships with some of the best in the business in each channel. One of the easiest ways to take your business in the absolute wrong direction is to naively think that you can do everything.

Like every company in our space, we have limited resources. Could I become an expert in print advertising? Maybe. Would it take me years to get there? Absolutely. I don’t have the time, or desire, to drop everything I’m doing and become the next print ninja. I’m going to find an expert out there that I trust and like, and partner with him/her. Sure, I’m going to give up a little bit of margin, but I’m going to save so much time while minimizing my risk – that’s a tradeoff I’ll make every day!

As I have zero shame in my game, I have no problem asking for help here. If you are an expert in marketing in any offline method, please reach out to me at ali@palomediagroup.com. We could be a match made in marketing heaven!