Old School Marketing Still Works!

Facebook Ads, Pay-Per-Click, funnels and conversions. They’re all the rage, and it seems like every minute a new method is announced, called by a new buzz word, that is “ten times better” than the one that was just sold to you. While there are some new marketing techniques that really work, knowing, understanding and actually using traditional marketing practices still has its place in the business landscape. Why? Well, if you take a few minutes to really look at some of the latest fad marketing methods, you’ll soon notice that most of them are merely an evolution of what has always been and will always be “tried and true,” or they are simply new “buzz words” used to describe workable practices that has been around since time immemorial. Following, we’ll take a look at a couple of newer and a couple of traditional marketing practices and put them into perspective in today’s marketplace.

Content Marketing

Not too long ago, we simply called this writing good copy and utilizing or creating compelling imagery in order to convey a message and get the desired response. Today “content marketing” has become the holy grail of marketing efforts, when creating effective content (copy and imagery) has ALWAYS been regarded with importance by marketing pros. That said, within the broader “copy writing and image usage” context, there are a few key distinctions we need to be mindful of when engaging in the strategy known as content marketing.

With the advent of internet marketing — allowing exponentially greater speed and access within the marketplace — modern communication channels have become glutted with irrelevant communication. In turn, potential customers have become so inundated with communication in general, we need to emphasize the idea of creating relevant, valuable messages — both written and visual — that can cut through that noise. Add to this that most of the “content” people see on the internet is not written by pros, and you can see why professionals began to stress the idea of “content” to their clients, to give it the importance it needs to have. Additionally — and we’ve come back to this many times in our posts — in order for a business to have viable presence on the internet, we must all follow the law as laid down by King Google, and since 2011, Google ranks sites and blogs on a content basis. The good news for users is that Google is insisting on better and better content for higher rankings, thus raising the level of content posted in general.

Finally, good “content marketing” must take into consideration the context in which the post, article or ad is placed. To the traditional advertiser or PR firm, this is the “no-brainer” concept of “know your audience.” It seems obvious that you would not place an ad for lace doilies in American Rifleman; but today we have many violating this basic rule and posting content to inappropriate groups or platforms; this then becomes that disease known as “spam.” Worse, with out-of-context content marketing efforts, rather than building a following from groups, users and potential customers who might be interested in your products or services, you are wasting your resources alienating people who will never be interested, and might even retaliate by blocking your communication or posting a bad review.

BOTTOM LINE: From the publication of Guttenburg Bible on up to present day, in order to have people wish to interact with your company and products you must write relevant, valuable copy, illuminate it with effective imagery, and disseminate it to the proper audience.

Lead Nurturing

Advertisers and salesman have understood and used the “Sales Pipeline” concept for years — evoking the idea of prospects being led to the sale as inevitably as a gush of crude. On the other hand, our new buzz word — “lead nurturing” — evokes the imagery of a potential customer wearing a bib and drinking a bottle as he is lovingly coaxed along the “sales funnel” towards the seller, product or service, which — if done well — he will embrace enthusiastically once he arrives. Again, the differences between our old methods and terminology and the new have arisen largely due to modern digital communication channels, where it is faster, easier and generally less costly to get your brand in front of prospects.

To put this into perspective, business owners must recognize the difference between marketing and sales, and which actions belong to which areas. To put it simply, marketing communications are intended as broad actions to entice many leads and drive them to the sales team or directly to the product outlet. Once they arrive, the sales team does further enlightening, if necessary, directly with individuals to close the sale. Thus, to run a business successfully, both of these functions need to be done effectively and continuously. With this distinction, we see that “lead nurturing” is not sales, and this is true of all social media marketing. You will not make a sale directly from social media marketing, yet these days it is vital that businesses take advantage of any appropriate digital communication platforms to present their brand, products and services to the public.

Realizing that these channels are social media channels, we now see why “content became king” and why we need to “nurture” when we were simply hitting them over the head with our advertising and promotion before. Marketing on social channels casts a much wider net — depending on your product or service, that net might contain a large number of people but a small number of actual prospects for your product or service. Thus we need a way of attracting those that might be interested and this is where valuable content comes in. On social channels you do the best you can in targeting by groups and platforms; after that it is up to your content to draw people in and create a following for your brand.

BOTTOM LINE: The traditional “sales pipeline” still exists, but it has been broadened and lengthened, with the addition of engaging potential customers on social and other digital platforms and gaining their loyalty for your brand as the gateway to a sale.

Direct Mail

It’s expensive. It’s irrelevant. It’s “old fashioned.” Sorry, but statistics show that no matter what argument you make, direct mail continues to get it done. Yes, you have to be smart about it — like any promotional program you do, you must take into consideration your target audience and your product or service and decide if this is the way to go. Keeping in mind what we covered earlier, the purpose of all of these methods is to communicate a message to your audience. And with the high quality of visual content people are bombarded with these days, it is best to have your direct promotion designed and written professionally — we are beyond the days of getting good results doing a 4 x 6 black and white postcard, printed in house on your copier on flourescent pink stock.

With newer mail products like Every Door Direct Mail, the cost comes down significantly to put a big, beautiful colorful message about your products and services directly in front of your prospects, without spending the time “nurturing” them on social channels or leading them along “sales funnels” with webinars, eBooks, whitepapers, posts and countless pages of content — all of which takes time and money to generate and publish, by the way. I’m not knocking those methods in today’s marketing landscape, rather the point is that completely discounting direct mail can be a mistake. The funny thing about it is that so many avoid doing it, it makes direct mail even more powerful. The less your competition wants to spend on it, the easier it is for your company to make a positive impact, and even sales, directly from a mail campaign.

BOTTOM LINE: Don’t discount this tried and true “workhorse” promotional method — especially if no one else around you is doing it.

Hitting the Phones

Cold calling is dead. I can just “set and forget” my funnel and let the leads roll in. If only it were that simple. Especially in B to B service businesses, cold calling prospects is still successful, and depending upon the circumstance, could be the most cost-effective method of getting new business.There is a big difference in trying to get a consumer to buy a relatively inexpensive item online versus a CPA firm trying to get a business to sign up for their accounting service. Before you decide not to include calling in your arsenal, really evaluate what type and level of communication is needed to actually get a sale for your business. Also, as any one who has ever done cold-calling knows, the less “cold” you can make it, the better. Thus cold calling is most successful incorporated as a follow-up action to rigorous branding and marketing programs. You may even impress a few people if you do it right, because just like going door-to-door, it so rarely occurs today in most industries.

BOTTOM LINE: Calling still has it’s place in modern-day marketing; end of the day, there is no substitute for an actual, in-person conversation with a prospect.

The Nitty Gritty

There are more new as well as more tried-and-true methods that work, these are just a few examples. The truth is, modern marketing works best when traditional marketing knowledge is applied when using newer communication platforms. It’s important to understand that what has changed are the communication channels — NOT the basics of communication itself. A well written, visually compelling message will communicate an idea about you and your products or services to a potential customer whether he sees it on your website or in a direct mailer. Despite how creative a new marketing method may be, what has worked in the past will continue to work because it needed less technology in order to make an impact. Marketers who understand the underlying basics of communication and the mechanics of how to interest a prospect and gain their allegiance will have no problem staying on top as technology continues to advance.