photo posted on www.post-gazette.com The hope that most businesses have is that their advertising will buy them customers immediately. But social media has introduced the long game to every business and a bigger opportunity is lost if buying new customers is the only perceived benefit.

Marketing is the effort of generating awareness and demand for something. To reach large numbers of people who get their information primarily through traditional media, traditional advertising is hard to beat, especially for locally focused businesses.

If a local newspaper reaches 60,000 people and it produces 20 new customers, that’s an ROI you can judge for yourself. But if those 20 customers become members of a community that you nurture over the long-term, you have amplified the impact of your first advertising spend for many years as those 20 people continually think of you when they again need what you sell.

Traditional advertising can reach large numbers of people.

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Traditional advertising can reach eyeballs within a certain, shrinking demographic that is still valuable to a lot of businesses. Social channels can then enable you to turn your new customer's interest into a relationship that lets you engage them and keep them interested.

Traditional advertising can help make people aware of what you sell, but big returns on your investment can only happen if you have a community that they can belong to that can continually meet their needs and keep you on their minds.

Fall 2013 Workshop: How to plan and pay for the shift from traditional marketing

Use traditional advertising to encourage people to contact you, buy your product, or walk in your door. But when that contact is made, make sure you have next steps planned to bring those interested people into your brand community where their relationship with you will mean far more in long-term sales than that first encounter.

Focus your online efforts on building a community through meeting people’s needs and interests with what you share. Focus your advertising efforts on converting people to become, not just customers, but community members. Loyalty, repeat sales, and long-term insight into what your customers want from you is what brand community building is all about.

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