Traditional marketing is intended to lead consumers to buying decisions. Therefore, over the years traditional marketing has used hard-sell tactics, psychology, and a sense of urgency (avoiding a loss or gaining a benefit) to sell products. “Buy today and save!” “Don’t miss out on this special offer!” “Show your pride with a new whatever!” When I speak of traditional media I’m talking about television, radio, and print. So, why do I say that traditional marketing isn’t dead it’s evolving?

How’s Marketing Changing?

So, how is marketing changing? You already know the answer because you are part of the change. Let me explain.

How much are you influenced by traditional marketing when you’re considering a purchase? Do you make purchases based on a TV, radio, or print ads? Or do you begin your vetting process online? How often does your search begin organically, searching for a product, not a company? Most consumers search for a product more often than they do a manufacturer or company. Forbes Consumer Research.

Traditional marketing can be used to keep a business or product in consumer’s minds. So, when they need the product, they remember the name, but hard sell advertising seldom accomplishes this. Because sharing facts, being useful, and broadcasting consumer testimonials do.

Be Useful

Every minute of every day consumers are asking questions that you and your business have the answers to. So, do the smart thing and share those answers. Not only through traditional marketing but with content marketing as well — blogs, white papers, case studies, video, and infographics. Have the answers to your prospects questions available wherever they search for them. Traditional marketing isn’t dead, but hard sell is.

Cultivate Advocates

So, how critical are online reviews and testimonials? According to, “The number of online consumers who read and trust online reviews is increasing. According to a survey by BrightLocal, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation—which is astounding, considering most online reviews are posted by total strangers. The same survey found that only 12 percent of the population did not regularly read reviews for consumer products.”  — Forbes: How Important are Reviews to Online Marketing?

Ask your loyal customers for testimonials. Develop customer relationships where clients become advocates and evangelists. Is it okay to ask for their help? Yes, it is. “Today consumers and businesses alike vet companies online before making contact. Give potential customers the content they need to choose your organization by seeking and sharing testimonials. Not only should companies solicit reviews from customers it should be part of their marketing strategy. Of course, to be able to ask for testimonials you must offer a superior product and outstanding customer service. Do you request reviews from your users?” —  Should Your Business Solicit Testimonials?

What’s Your Marketing Plan? 

It has been my experience that too often, in small business, marketing is little more than throwing a dart at a wall and hoping it sticks. Does that sound harsh? Do your marketers do things because it’s expected or do they have a plan?

For example, does your organization have social media accounts? Is there a thought process and a reason behind each account? Do you have Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts? Have you recently added Snapchat and Instagram? Do you know why? Is there a reason other than … because networks? Some networks may not reach your audience, “… if we look at the age of Instagram users does it fit your target audience? Here are the numbers from Sprout Social

Breakdown of the percentage of online adults who use Instagram by age:

  • 53% of 18–29-year olds use Instagram.
  • 25% of 30–49-year olds use Instagram.
  • 11% of 50–64-year olds use Instagram.
  • 6% of people 65+ use Instagram.” —  Should Your B2B use Instagram?

Have you discontinued or cut back on collateral print material? Is there a reason other than you’ve been told it’s archaic? “Print and E-Collateral shouldn’t be at odds with each other — they should complement each other. This is accomplished by integrating the two; using the strengths of both to share a unified brand delivered to consumers in the best package to meet their needs.” — Integrating Print and Electronic Collateral Materials.

Before your organization makes decisions about the direction of your marketing based on the idea that because everybody is doing it, take the time to understand what your audience wants from you.

Who is your current customer?

Begin by analyzing your current customers. How did they connect with you? Send a survey and offer a promotional gift for their effort. Ask them how they found you, what they appreciate, and why should other businesses use your product? Ask what sets you apart from the competition. Use this information to narrow your target audience search.

What problems do you solve?

If you begin with the problem you solve, you can search back for customers who need your product or service. Who can you help?

Where are your potential customers?

For example, if your business is B2B (business to business) how can you reach and connect with the organizations you can help? Are they on social media? If so, which networks? Can they be contacted by mail, email, trade shows, or traditional forms of advertising? Before jumping willy-nilly into a marketing campaign find out where your target audience may be reached. Not sure how to do that? Again, ask your existing customers, beta test, track mini-campaigns, and follow potential clients on social networks and their website to learn their communication habits.

What is your (USP) Unique Sales Position?

What sets you apart may attract the audience your desire. Once you determine where your audience may be reached, let them know what makes you different.

Who do you want as a customer?

Several years ago, an organization questioned our social marketing plan. They wondered why we shared information other than our products. At the time, we blogged and shared about 12 topics, although eight of the topics weren’t about our products, they were of interest to business people. Our target audience is business decision makers. For example, we’ve shared leadership posts that have introduced us to businesses we may have never met if we’d only shared about our product. In one week, we added three new customers in this way. As Kevin Mullett said when asked about TKO’s diverse blog content plan, “Banks sponsor golf outings.”

What’s next?

Before your next marketing initiative consider the five points listed above. Survey your existing customers, sit with your marketing team and analyze the problems you solve, and know your USP. Take the time to understand the customer you want and the one you don’t and then beta test campaigns. Don’t jump on the next social network bandwagon just because it’s the latest and greatest. Don’t eliminate print materials just because somebody said you should. Have a reason and a purpose to your marketing efforts.

The Changing Tide

Traditional marketing isn’t dead it’s evolving.  However, traditional marketing is changing. The message isn’t all about making a snap decision and rushing out to buy a product. Because more and more it’s about being useful, sharing consumer testimonials and opinions, and keeping your organization at the top of consumer’s minds.

Traditional Marketing isn’t Dead It’s Evolving

To say the traditional marketing is dead is naïve. It’s not dead; because it should be part of a comprehensive advertising strategy that includes content and social media marketing.

How do you and your business use traditional marketing? What have you learned? What is new to you in marketing?

Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash