Marketing really came into its own in the 20th century when the advent of mass communication tools led to the start of a booming consumer economy. In the age of the internet, however, it can sometimes feel as though the marketing strategies that were fine-tuned over the course of the last century are now old hat: direct mail, in-person selling and more all seem to have declined in popularity in favor of social media advertising and search engine optimization. This article will look at whether or not these old strategies still work and how they can be used in tandem with new technologies to improve a company’s marketing outcomes.

Out with the old

It’s undeniable that there’s been a decisive shift away from some of the old marketing methods in favor of new ones. Even though printed leaflets still fly through mailboxes and billboards still adorn the sides of highways, the figures don’t lie. The overall volume of direct mailouts – one of the most popular marketing phenomena of the 20th century – dropped in 2016, suggesting that the market is recognizing that there are more cost-effective ways to do the job.

Trends in marketing tend to track trends in the wider economy, and as a result, it’s not really a surprise that the marketing focus appears to be shifting to the channels that have captured the consumer’s attention. The internet provides easy access for marketers in terms of cheap advertising costs, but it also gives them the chance to meet consumers where they are. People’s internet browsing habits reveal very specific consumer preferences – and that’s a kind of targeted and detailed level of information that traditional marketers couldn’t possibly hope to compete with.

In with the new?

Despite the decline in traditional advertising methods, that’s not a reason to completely write them off. In fact, the same study showed that while the volume of direct mailouts had gone down, the proportion of direct mailouts compared to all other mail had shot up – suggesting that it still plays a role. Certain demographics, such as older people who are more likely to trust direct mail and less likely to be confident internet users, are still ideal recipients of direct mailshots.

The location-based advertising that leafletting a whole town or neighborhood can deliver, meanwhile, is something that not even the most geo-tech savvy online advertising platform can yet replicate. The chalkboard contact paper phenomenon also demonstrates this point: hospitality businesses that use techniques such as contact paper to emboss marketing messages onto blackboards placed outside their bars, restaurants and cafes find that this method is a customerwinner time and time again.

And many marketing strategists are finding ways to make the most of digital technology without having to give up on the tried and tested methods of old. Take the in-person marketing events that take place in physical destinations, such as company representatives placed in shopping malls to peddle their firm’s products. These kinds of marketing events have been happening for as long as most of us can remember, but the difference these days is that they often have a digital twist. The old school method of having another person speak to you and introduce the product now includes a digital accompaniment that makes the life of the marketer easier, such as a screen playing a slideshow or a tablet computer for easy contact information entry.

Strategy: What is it?

Despite the fact that strategies such as direct mail are not quite as prevalent in the marketing industry collective consciousness now that there are other channels to focus on, that doesn’t mean the tricks and tips of old no longer work. After all, no matter what the actual channel is, the underlying strategies are often still the same. Whether it’s an old-style strategy like a mailshot through all the doors in an entire town or an advert appearing at the top of a list of Google search results, many marketing texts are likely to contain common features such as calls to action. In a way, this is the most important bit: the only things that have changed are the channels through which they are delivered and the contexts in which they are received.

The world of marketing has changed on the surface in recent decades, but the underlying strategies – and even sometimes the channels – persist. From chalkboard contact paper to direct mailing, old marketing strategies are still working for many marketers in a range of sectors. And by pairing them with the latest technologies, you can create a sophisticated marketing campaign that is bound to convert.

By Chakraborty

Dr Chakrabarty is the Chief Innovation Officer of IntuiComp TeraScience. Earlier she was Assistant Professor of Delhi University, a QS ranked university in India. Before that she has held research positions in IIT Mumbai, IIT Chennai and IISc Bangalore. She holds 2 patents and over 20 research publications in her name which are highly cited. Her area of research is in smart technologies, integrated devices and communications. She also has a penchant for blogging and is an editor of Business Fundas.