How old school marketing methods are still effective

by Lee Hopkins on December 18, 2012

in marketing,tools


For many marketers, working in today’s fast-paced, instant analysis digital media environment is a far cry from common marketing practices just five or 10 years ago.

Many marketers are being pulled left, right, and center by Twitter replies, Facebook page complaints and other ephemeral indicators that can easily distract a core marketers overall mission. Tallying up numbers of “clicks,” daily deal opportunities, and social media campaigns all add up in the mix of the “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach. Using digital methods across the board may have its usefulness in certain product categories, but can also be limiting to reaching more numbers of people.

For some long-time marketers, having the new digital tools simply enhances what they were schooled in decades ago. Marketers recognize they can no longer simply evaluate their business space, identify competitors and put forth plans to keep the business on track. They need to elevate their game.

Marketers today need to teach their customers about identifying their own needs. It’s not enough anymore to just deliver a new gadget— now you have to create tactful relationships with consumers and customers, make them integral to a company’s bottom line, figure out new ways to reward customer behavior and bring about stronger brand loyalty.

Today’s business and consumer marketers are working with customer desires to identify their own desired needs. Remember what marketing lessons Steve Jobs taught the world? We didn’t know we needed our own personal music player— until the Apple marketing team convinced us that we just had to have one; that to not have one was to indicate a Luddite lurked within. That same thinking has permeated all levels of Apple’s electronic products to reach its core consumers and show them that they absolutely need these gadgets.

To accomplish this, marketers still rely on tried and true marketing tools and techniques that have worked for years. It’s because they work. They may be particularly suitable for key demographics, gender groupings, or specific user groups. But many old-school marketers still cling to these methods for reaching people. Whether that means using printed fliers with a coupon to drive in-store sales, or commissioning a new TV ad campaign to drive up numbers, some methods are still with us, even in the shadow of digital marketing’s efficiency.

Let’s look at some older, established methods for bolstering business and maintaining great customer relationships.

Business Cards

Business cards offer much to prospects and clients. They enable direct phone call access (how often does that contact line go unnoticed today?), are small and easily organized, and much easier to produce today, unlike past years, due to tech advancements in business card printing and delivery.

It seems every few years, people proclaim the death of business cards, likening them to a relic from an age of glad-handing salesmen and overripe networking events. And yet, business cards manage to not only stay with us, but stay relevant as a prime business tool, because they’re inexpensive, portable and a powerful marketing tool. Business cards remain a top way to brand you, your business or service. offers up some key tips for using business cards— Here are a few:

  • Keep business cards on you, and exchange them with interested people in your work
  • Jot down a quick note on the back to help personalize your card, so your recipients will remember you more clearly for future opportunities.
  • Leave some business cards at local businesses if it makes sense and is OK to do.
  • Include your business cards in postal mailings.

Direct Coupons

Coupons are one of the key old-school tools that marketers would use well, and still use well today. Marketers distributed over 300 billion coupons in 2011, and 3/4 of all U.S. shoppers searched multiple coupon sources every week.

The concept of coupons has stayed the same over the years— to save money on products and often introduce shoppers to new products in the process. Today’s delivery systems may have changed to more mobile delivery and email coupons, but printed coupons through marketing companies like Valassis bring saving opportunities to millions of consumers every week on food items, local services, and household needs.


Today’s signs may show that traditional newspaper advertising is on its deathbed, but other old school forms of marketing like using billboards to raise advertising awareness are still popular on highways, cities and towns across the nation.

Even during the recession, the billboard industry’s business levels dipped only slightly, and experts suggest that a growth in ad revenues from digital billboards is imminent. So many opportunities still exist offline to catch people’s attention while walking, driving, or bicycling in cities and towns.

Door-to-Door Marketing

As companies burn out on unfounded online returns for their digital marketing dollars, they’re open to using age-old techniques like door-to-door marketing during the last few years of our recession. Eager street marketers exist as a result of job losses and the recession, and like the Great Depression in the 1930s, they’re willing to knock on doors, be sincere and make a good offer to homeowners.

In some instances, the pitches are correctly targeted. No longer do we buy dictionaries or vacuum cleaners this way, but selling home phone or cable TV services door-to-door makes a lot of sense. Marketing in this method with products aimed at home usage will generate more openness from a homeowner.

Clearly, some old marketing methods still work today. Here’s how you do it.

  • Using CDs to deliver communication messages
  • Writing and printing up hundreds of copies of a fanzine to share the story of your company
  • Using lounge entertainers to exploit your company’s offerings in local commercials
  • Driving a tractor through a local town parade to advertise your company’s new menu. Nothing says slow like a tractor.
  • No need to place your order for a yellow pages ad in your local phone book either. Over and Done.

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