Last year Harold Mitchell told Adnews that he saw 2008 as a year of significant change in the advertising industry, one that cemented the digital age as the permanent force in media.

But how many businesses owners and marketing managers have started making the transition with their own businesses? How many are currently sitting down and mapping out the same old marketing plan for 2009, allocating ad dollars to radio, television, and newspapers declining circulation but higher rates?

There’s no doubt that we are entering a difficult economic climate. Businesses that adapt quickly and implement cost-effective changes reflective of the new media landscape will emerge in a much stronger position.

And don’t think that you can be complacent. Digital and social media is breaking into the mainstream. Obama used it extremely effectively in the US election last year. Advertising Age is now regularly discussing it, and smart businesses are using it effectively already.

If you haven’t already begun exploring new options for your marketing, then make 2009 your year of transition:

  • Create a truly informative, conversational and interactive website
  • Cut back your newspaper spending and allocate it to search engine optimization so you can drive more relevant traffic to your site
  • Begin exploring social media and engaging with people in and around your industry
  • Ensure all your advertising encourages people to visit your website where you can explain more about your product or services
  • Discover the amazing measurability of online marketing where you can constantly tweak your efforts to improve results
  • Generate free publicity online or in the traditional media from strategic website content and commentary
  • Place your TV and radio ads online
  • Create online video content so people can see your product or services in action
  • Create an online community around your business or product

Don’t get left behind. Start allocating part of your advertising budget to digital media. If you have any doubt at all about the effectiveness of your marketing then you owe it to yourself to explore more measurable and cost-effective options.