Is There Still a Place for Traditional Marketing in the Digital Age?

By March 9, 2018 Blog No Comments

At the risk of dating myself, I still remember using the Yellow Pages to find local businesses – and I don’t mean the online version. I’m referring to the thick, printed book that landed with a thud on your porch). This is one form of traditional marketing that has become obsolete (although you may still be using one as a doorstop). But what about other traditional marketing techniques?

Marketing has certainly changed over the past decade and it continues to evolve. However, the goals remain the same: attract more customers, build your business and boost revenues. With so many to choose from, how do you know which tactics make the most sense for your business?

First, let me assure you that, even though newspapers and magazines have fallen prey to online sources, traditional marketing is not dead. It still has a place in a winning strategy, especially in certain industries. The key to success is to adapt and adopt: That is, adapt the way you use traditional tactics, while adopting new methods and technology, creating the perfect blend for your business. Here’s how:

Who are my customers? What are their questions? Where do they gather info?


Think like your customers.

Social media may be hot, but if your customers don’t know the difference between Twitter and Instagram, you probably won’t be successful reaching them on these platforms. Know who your target market is, create detailed buyer personas, and find out where these potential customers get their information. These are the first steps in creating a successful strategy. After all, the best marketing message in the world will be ineffective if it never reaches the right audience.

Some industries are notoriously behind the technology curve, so finding the proper blend of tools to reach them and then monitoring the progression as your audience changes is important. Make certain the message continues to hit home as the target moves over time.

However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because your buyers are in the B2B sector (and have traditionally been “old school”), that they don’t engage with newer media, such as Facebook or Linkedin. Buyers are people. And, chances are, like most people, they’re active on some social media platforms. In fact, according to CMI’s study on “B2B Content Marketing,” 92% of B2B marketers use social media platforms to distribute content, and of those, 97% use LinkedIn.

Customize messages to appeal to unique buyers.

Take advantage of customization.

Today’s technology gives marketers the ability to customize both the message and the delivery method to reach your customers, which eliminates wasteful spending. The same B2B content marketing study found that 93% of B2B marketers use personalized email for newsletters, events, welcome letters, special offers and more.

Now, you may be wondering, as you look at your overloaded inbox, who wants more email? Despite our overflowing inboxes, 86% of professionals name email as their favorite mode of communication and 75% of marketers agree that email offers “excellent” to “good” ROI (Hubspot). The fact is, email gets results because it’s targeted, measurable and cost effective. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) estimates that email marketing brings in $40 for every $1 spent!

Of course, we’re not talking about blasting out generic messages and hoping for the best. Today’s buyers are unlikely to open an email that is not personalized. Marketing automation platforms make sending the right message to the right person at the right time easy. (For tips on how to personalize emails, read “The Right Way to Get Personal with Email.”)

Is that really the message you want to send?

Be consistent.

Whether you’re attending trade shows, using magazine print ads or posting videos on YouTube, all your communications should have the same look and feel (colors, fonts, taglines). In other words, proper branding is still important. Audiences should be able to easily recognize your company and its products.

This involves crafting a compelling USP (unique selling proposition) and conveying this message in every customer touchpoint. Maybe your USP is unsurpassed quality or faster, less expensive production. Are you the industry leader with a well-known reputation? Or, the scrappy start-up with a unique personality? Decide on your company’s brand story and then be consistent when telling it across multiple platforms.

Use digital tactics to complement your traditional marketing strategy.


Make it work better together.

While digital is getting all the glory these days, it may surprise you to learn that consumers like and trust traditional advertising, including print, TV and radio, more than digital advertising. According to a MarketingSherpa study, eight in 10 consumers say they usually trust print advertising (82%), television advertising (80%) and radio advertising (71%). In fact, the top five most trusted ad formats are all traditional media.

What’s more, consumers engage with traditional ads more than you may think. MarketingSherpa found that 50% of respondents say they “often” or “always” watch television ads from companies they’re satisfied with. Half also read print ads they get in the mail. On the other hand, the most hated and least trusted ads are online pop-up ads!

Of course, digital and inbound marketing are essential for companies to be competitive these days – 91% of B2B marketers are using content marketing. It’s a matter of incorporating digital into your marketing plan in a way that complements traditional efforts. For example:

  • Include your website’s URL in your print ad, mailer or radio ad, and direct prospects to information or educational content on your site.
  • Create different landing pages on your website for different ad campaigns, which makes your call-to-action more effective. So, instead of sending someone to your homepage where they must search for a specific offer or product, send them directly to the page they’re looking for.
  • Use codes in print ads and custom URLs in digital ads to see which campaigns are most effective.

Use less expensive digital tactics to balance your marketing budget.

Balance your budget.

Traditional advertising is typically more expensive than inbound marketing methods, such as content marketing. To make the most of your marketing budget, it makes sense to use an integrated approach. For instance, sponsoring local or regional events can be very profitable for business owners and is relatively inexpensive, but advertising the event on radio, TV and billboards can add up quickly. On the other hand, using social media to spread the word is economical and effective.

In addition, while traditional advertising is one-way communication, social media allows companies to form a dialogue with potential customers. This exchange can result in valuable information about how your company/brand is perceived. Information can then be used to refine advertising messages.

When using traditional methods, such as print ads, it’s important to find a reliable agency that can not only create campaigns that fit your budget, industry and target market, but also have the expertise to integrate digital and content marketing into your strategy.

The bottom line is it takes a comprehensive approach to stand out in today’s competitive environment. Whether you prefer traditional advertising, inbound marketing, digital tactics or a blend of techniques, the keys to success are knowing what your audience wants and how to reach them. Combining both online and offline campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility with a larger audience and stretch your marketing budget.

Although some would argue that traditional marketing is gasping its last breath, for many businesses it’s still a robust part of their overall strategy. Some forms of traditional advertising may indeed become obsolete, while others will evolve. The most successful marketers will be those who adapt to these changes.

(As for the yellow pages, here are 101 alternative uses that you may find entertaining!)