Is Traditional Marketing Dead?


Spoiler Alert: No. But it’s changing.


It’s no secret that we are venturing ever-further into the digital realm. And if 2020 is any preview of what is to come, it doesn’t look like that progression is slowing down. As companies big and small continue to devote larger portions of their budgets to digital marketing, it might be tempting to assume that traditional marketing is going to be left in the dust. 

Before we dive into this debate, let’s take a quick look at both of these approaches. 


Traditional Marketing

As the name implies, traditional marketing is made up of classic practices, some of which have been around for decades. This includes all offline techniques, such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines and billboards. What these methods may lack in adaptability and customer interaction they make up for with their large reach and accessibility.

Digital Marketing

Traditional marketing’s younger counterpart is made up of all the practices that take place on the internet. These are things like social media, email, SEO and PPC. While newer and more prone to change, digital marketing enjoys many benefits that traditional techniques don’t have at their disposal. The internet can provide you with a tremendous amount of information on your audience. And in marketing, knowing your audience is half the battle.


The Argument for the Old-School

Before we begin to dock points from traditional marketing’s score sheet, let’s highlight some of its strengths. For starters, the avenues that it uses are still incredibly common. Television and radio may not be new and exciting anymore, but they are seen as trustworthy sources. The majority of homes today still have cable television, and even though streaming services like Netflix are becoming the go-to for many, cable viewership remains very high. A similar change is happening in radio, with many listeners gravitating towards streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. Still, broadcast radio has a substantial reach, with over 90% of Americans tuning in at some point each month. The continued effectiveness of these mediums, as well as their strong track records and high price tags, helps to create a sense of legitimacy around anything that comes over their airwaves.

Hard copy advertisements, like those in newspapers and magazines, have an edge of their own over other types of marketing. People tend to trust print advertisements over digital ones, especially when it comes to making big purchases. Putting your company’s ad in your local newspaper, or a magazine that aligns with your branding, continues to be an effective way to add integrity to your business and get the word out to a wide audience.


So, What’s the Problem?

Although traditional marketing techniques still have their place at the table, advancements in digital marketing have revealed some weak points in the old way of doing things. As we said earlier, the internet can provide a business with a lot  of information on its audience. By comparison, traditional marketing techniques have fairly limited resources when it comes to targeting potential customers. Sure, television ads can target a specific geographical area, and maybe even a specific time slot. But an online ad can be pushed directly to someone who has already shown interest in your business.

Digital marketing is able to utilize an individual’s personal interests and previous shopping history to deliver them an ad that matches up with whatever they may be in the market for at the time. Not only does this make for more effective marketing, but the results of these digital efforts can be tracked in real time. With traditional ad campaigns, calculating your return on investment (ROI) is less direct and often involves some guesswork. And in the information age, not having reliable ROI numbers to measure a campaign with can be a deal breaker.


The Solution? Teamwork!

So, we know that traditional marketing’s tried and true methods are great for building brand awareness. Its avenues of disseminating information are able to cast a wide net that can still be very effective. We also know that there are some tears in that net. But, what if your traditional methods and cutting edge digital techniques could work together more closely? A good working relationship between your traditional and digital efforts might just be the missing ingredient to your marketing campaigns. There are many ways to bridge this gap, and we’d like to offer up a few ideas:


  • Add QR Codes to your Print Ads

If you’re not familiar with QR codes, they’re small barcodes that can be scanned with a smartphone or tablet. They then bring the customer directly to a website or other digital destination of your choice, no searching required. The potential of QR usage is massive, from linking your newspaper coupon directly to your eCommerce store, to bringing people right to your social media page from a magazine ad. QR codes also have the added bonus of transforming the ROI of your print campaigns into a fully trackable system.


  • Use Television Ads to Promote Web Content

Okay, we know this one might sound backwards, but bear with us. While television still has a broad reach, its commercials are very expensive and tend to stay at around fifteen seconds. This may be a sufficient amount of time to pitch a product or quickly convey a message, but there are simply better options. A short TV ad could be used as a condensed version of a larger piece of content, with a call to “find out more on our YouTube channel/website.” A more in-depth version of your ad can then be uploaded to YouTube or onto your website for little to-no cost. This allows you to take advantage of television’s viewership without having to water down your content too much. This is also an opportunity to bring a potential lead into your digital network, all without them having to leave the couch.


  • Utilize Geotargeting 

While the practice of targeting customers based on their physical location may not be new, it has received a substantial facelift in the modern age. Through the use of modern geotargeting, a business can get a very good idea of where their customers are living, working and spending their time. This information can then be used to decide on where to set up billboards, or to attract customers that are in close proximity to your brick-and-mortar store.


So, is traditional marketing dead? 

No, but it has evolved. And if you’re looking to get the most out of the traditional techniques, it would be wise to pair them with their digital counterparts. A balanced and diverse marketing approach stands to be extremely effective, if not necessary, as the digital world becomes the norm.