3 old-school marketing activities that still work

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I was born on the cusp of two distinct marketing generations. 

Having graduated college in 1995 with degrees in Communications and Computer Science, one would think that I carefully planned my time at school to be completely prepared for the coming digital age of marketing. But to be perfectly honest, I had absolutely no idea what was coming.

My marketing and advertising classes focused more on the classic strategies and activities. You know, things like target audience determination, setting communication goals, media mix decisions, and so on. There were no discussions of keywords, bounce rates, or click-through rates -- heck, the only real mention of any form of digital media was that America Online or CompuServe might be something we could eventually include in our efforts.

During my first job interviews, my potential employers feverishly inquired just what I knew about this whole new "internet thing" that was happening. While I had heard of and even used the internet in school, I could in no way answer with any confidence that I was anywhere near prepared to take on the roles of what would become the modern marketer.  That is, until my first student loan invoice arrived.

Suddenly, I began to change my tune. I started answering that I was a dyed-in-the-wool internet marketing expert.

Because of this interesting mix of traditional and digital media, I approached digital media not as a separate marketing discipline, but as a new opportunity within the confines of marketing strategy. Unfortunately, I was one of a very few who looked at things this way -- and as digital media grew, it was always segregated from the rest of the marketing and advertising teams.

However, marketing and advertising best practices will simply not be ignored, even in the digital age. This is why we see time-tested marketing tactics presented as something new and different over and over again, like that special friend who just somehow discovered Led Zeppelin yesterday. This is also how we've ended up with "new" strategies like "inbound marketing," "content marketing," "growth hacking," and, dare I say it, "search engine optimization."

Then again, we've also lost as much as we've gained along this long strange road. Certain marketing and advertising activities are getting pushed to the side or even discarded as "old hat" -- when in fact, their disciplines are desperately needed and could make these digital media tools even more powerful. 

With that in mind, I present three "old-school" marketing activities that are in desperate need of a successful comeback tour.



Justin Belmont
Justin Belmont May 30, 2014 at 6:34 PM

Fascinating article, Jeff! A lot of articles about marketing in the digital age completely write off old-school marketing, but there are still valuable approaches from the old-school style. On our blog, we have a post about the challenge of developing a marketing strategy that will make an impact (http://blog.prosemedia.com/the-challenges-to-formulating-a-marketing-strategy-that-makes-an-impact/), and one of the things we mention is that you have to learn and react to data. This article has a well-put together argument as to why that's so important. Great job!