Marketing Tactics: Going Old-School!

Digital marketing is all the rage, but conventional marketing isn't dead yet — here are three old-school tactics that you must not chuck

Adam Fout
December 23 2017

No matter how badly digital marketing gurus want it to be the case, conventional marketing is far from dead. In fact, conventional marketing still works so well for some types of customers that digital marketing can only ever hope to be a supplementary weapon for marketers trying to reach these audiences. Don’t get me wrong — digital marketing is still awesome and still a critical component of most modern businesses. For the majority of consumers in the B2C arena, digital marketing is the most cost-effective way to go, but you can do a lot with an investment in some more conventional marketing tactics.

Let’s talk about what those tactics are.

#1 Cold Calling

I know what you’re thinking:

“Cold calling?! Are you serious?!”

“I hate cold calls!”

“That’s sales!”

Cold calling is a conventional marketing tactic that most folks view as somewhere between a virus and a worm (on the scale of marketing-crap-they-absolutely-hate). I understand — most folks don’t like getting cold calls these days. For the average audience and the average B2C business, it’s probably not a great tactic. I don’t have to tell you that — you know it to be true. How many cold calls have you received for a consumer product lately? Probably not too many. For most B2C businesses, cold calling is a waste of time and money. Much cheaper to employ digital tactics. However, there are many businesses for which cold calling is an excellent tactic. Twenty years ago, telemarketing was a hot business and drove a huge amount of revenue. It’s not as hot as it once was, but it still drives results.

Consider this statistic:

“75% of 1,000 executives polled were prompted to attend an event or take an appointment as a result of a cold call or email.” (Source). Holy expectation reversal Batman! If you’re running a B2B business, chances are that you can actually gain some significant ground through cold calling. To address that third concern above, cold calling is very much a form of marketing. When you connect with a potential prospect who isn’t sure if they want to actually make a purchase, but nonetheless they’re interested in your offer and what you have to say, you might be able to get some marketing materials in their hands, an email in their inbox, and prime the pump for a sale down the road. That’s conventional marketing working for your business. If you’re serious about stepping up your old-school cold calling game, here are some excellent tips for tightening up your tactics. But if you think cold calling is old school, I’m gonna go back a few more decades to something that many modern companies still employ liberally:

#2 Direct Mail

Now again, as a content marketer, I’ll be the first to say that this form of marketing is often quite annoying…And as a consumer, I’ll admit freely that I regularly take direct mail offers out of my mailbox and bring them into my house. And with a select few, I actually make a purchase. And I’m not the only one — here are some disgustingly compelling statistics: “Direct mail household response rate is 5.1% (compared to .6% email, .6% paid search, .2 online display, .4% social media).” “Direct mail median household return on investment is 29% (compared to 124% email, 23% paid search, 16% online display, 30% social media).” You can read more of those statistics here, but seriously, they’re incredible.

The point is clear: Direct mail works. It’s one of the most powerful conventional marketing tactics out there, and yes, it does require an investment, but the return is often worthwhile. And what marketing tactic doesn’t require investment? That leaves the best for last — newspaper advertising.

#3 Newspaper Advertising

I feel like I’m giving people heart attacks with some of these ancient tactics, and in terms of ancient, this guy takes the cake. Now I’m not going to lie to you — the newspaper business has been in decline for well over a decade, and it’s going to continue to decline…But it’s not dead yet. I have several friends who deliver these things for a living, and believe me when I say, there is a strong core audience there who’s not going away anytime soon and who really, really, REALLY loves their paper…These people read it religiously — as in, they stand outside and wait for it to arrive in the morning and freak the heck out when it doesn’t show up on time. For this audience, the advertising in the newspaper is still remarkably effective.

In fact, a recent study found that advertising with newspapers triples the effectiveness of ad campaigns. I mean, I knew this stuff still worked, but I’m frankly astounded by those numbers. Newspaper may be in a very different place in 20 years when the core baby boomers reach their 80s, but for now, newspaper advertising is still very alive, very effective, and very much one of those conventional marketing tactics that you’ve probably written off…And that you probably need to reevaluate.

The Tactics You Choose Depend on Your Audience

Your audience should be the primary driver of the marketing tactics you choose — always. If your audience isn’t going to respond to a particular tactic, then there’s no point in employing the tactic. Why bother with something that your audience isn’t going to be responsive to? Direct mail, cold calling, newspaper ads — these are just tools in your toolbox. No single marketing solution is going to be the best fit for your offer and your target markets, and the savvy marketer will always design multi-channel marketing campaigns that fit a variety of tactics into an overarching marketing strategy.

Not up to date on how to understand and reach your audience? Then read this amazing article by the incredible Victor Ijidola on how to understand the people you’re trying to sell to. And good luck out there, marketer.


Adam Fout

Adam Fout, resident content sorcerer at BlueSteelSolutions, turns blogs and social media accounts into marketing machines for your business. In his free time, he writes strange bits of fiction and posts them on My Website

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