Is Traditional Marketing Dead?

The short version: no.
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Traditional marketing is still very much alive.

You’ve probably heard someone say “Traditional marketing is dead” or “Traditional media is dead.” One of those two statements is said regularly by marketers everywhere and in marketing classes across academia. But people who say that are wrong and they probably don’t realize it.
What you should be hearing is “The way you integrate traditional marketing channels is dead.”

The key to successfully using traditional marketing is to integrate your media to create comprehensive and diverse campaigns.

Traditional marketing can’t be looked at traditionally. You can’t just put out a bunch of print ads to go along with a TV commercial and declare your campaign a success. Those antiquated marketing ideas are long gone!
In many industries, traditional marketing channels are still wildly influential. According to the 2014 Overdrive Connectivity Report, Owner Operators consume print publications more than any other form of media. There were similar results in the Equipment World Connectivity Study. But you can’t use traditional marketing channels in isolation.
You need to incorporate traditional marketing channels into your campaigns, but just running an ad in a magazine doesn’t cut it. For instance, when you are looking to run an ad in a print publication you need to be as targeted as possible. Identifying verified audiences will allow you to make sure that you are getting in front of the people most likely to engage with you. It’s also important to pair your ads with high quality content. This ensures that your ads are seen by your audience in the best light possible. 

Retrain yourself to think of traditional marketing channels as a way to move your audience deeper into your sales lifecycle.

If you aren’t trying to incorporate traditional channels into your marketing campaigns, then you aren’t looking at the bigger picture. Channels like print, signage, and television offer unique opportunities to increase your number of marketing touch points. But without the ability to track traditional channels with analytics it can be tough to measure their effectiveness. Looking at the correlation between your campaign’s performance and your use of these marketing channels can help you measure the benefits of something like a TV or print ad.
Here are a couple of print ads that are particularly effective at directing people further into their sales lifecycle through traditional media. On each, they simply recommend visiting their social media pages, not an immediate purchase decision. They also incorporate a creative association with the images they present, i.e. when you associate Children’s Hospital Boston with the sick infant and Nivea with Rihanna.
Nivea print ad
Another great example of an integrated marketing campaign using traditional marketing channels to increase audience engagement is Oreo’s 2013 Superbowl ad. The Superbowl is a cultural event, and there are many people who watch the game just to see the commercials. Oreo used this cultural fixation to create a commercial as part of their overall campaign, directing their audience to talk about the brand on Instagram (see the commercial below).
They capitalized on the halftime power outage, and the conversation on social media, with this timely tweet.

The results were fantastic. On Twitter, the post gained over 15,000 retweets and over 6,500 favorites. The post also gathered another 20,000 likes on Facebook.

Oreo’s witty tweet wouldn’t have been as popular without the commercial to drive the conversation on social media.

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The Takeaway

Traditional marketing channels are still an effective way to market, but only when done right. Incorporating what many consider traditional marketing with more modern digital techniques can improve your campaign’s ROI. By using cross channel marketing campaigns, your marketing can move more prospects through your sales lifecycle.
So the next time someone tells you that traditional marketing channels are dead, you can tell them “No, but the way you integrate them is.”
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