How old-fashioned marketing is making a comeback


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Have you ever found yourself looking at a marketing piece and thinking, “It’s so simple, yet so brilliant?” Whether it’s a memorable billboard, a pop-up experience, or even a flyer through your door, some ideas are so inspired you can’t help but give it a go. foot that you didn’t think of first.

But there’s a reason creative, tangible marketing experiences leave such an impression on us. At a time when digital marketing has become so saturated that our brains don’t even register the hundreds of ads we scroll through daily, brands are reverting to the old, stalwart ways of getting people talking.

The rise of digital

Over the past decade, most brands and businesses have pushed primarily toward digital advertising strategies — methods like banner ads, Google Ads, social media campaigns, and influencers. This is not surprising, given the digital transformation that social media has created for consumer decision-making. And the thing is, it doesn’t slow down.

Digital ad spend is also only set to rise, with one agency predicting that global advertising across all digital channels will exceed 60% of global ad spend for the first time in 2022, reaching 61.5% of total spend. But as digital advertising continues to grow, it has created a very saturated market. Where ROAS (return on ad spend) once averaged 10 to 15 times higher, it now has the chance to be nearly three to five times higher. This digital world makes it more difficult to create an impact focused on connecting and relating consumers with the brand, which ultimately affects consumers’ willingness to purchase a product.

Related: 4 tips for developing a marketing plan that will actually grow your business

A return to the old

There is no doubt that digital advertising will always have its financial advantages, but these methods do not bring the returns that brands were hoping for – which is the value of a long-term customer relationship or the lifetime value (LTV) of your customers. But while marketing budgets traditionally require proof of ROI, people are now moving away from that and looking instead for a more organic boost in overall brand awareness. This is why we are now seeing a return to 90s and early 2000s methods like catalogs, direct mail and billboards to name a few.

A study found that response rates for catalogs increased by 170% from 2004 to 2018. In the UK, several retailers also returned to catalogs during the festive shutdown period when in-person Christmas shopping was halted . Not only does this give consumers a tangible connection to the brand from the comfort of their own home, but these strategies essentially feel new again as fewer companies incorporate these methods into their marketing strategies.

The problem is that these methods are not always “measurable”, but have a greater social value – which has always been the raison d’être of digital transformation. It all comes down to tracking. However, AmEx is one company that has championed the value of direct mail to create impact. “Direct mail still has a valuable place in the marketing mix when brands seek to create a deep, personal connection with customers,” Jon Affatato, director of global marketing operations at American Express, said in 2018. He also highlighted the importance of direct mail. is to get people to slow down and engage with physical content, which is likely to make a bigger impression.

Related: Marketing Trends in the Post-Pandemic Business Environment

A convergence of old and new

While we are certainly seeing a return to the old, some companies are opting for a mix of traditional and new methods. Digital signage company Blip offers the appeal of large-scale display in big cities, with measurable supply too – including the seconds it can be displayed, the number of times it will appear in a day and an estimate of exposure based on peak or off-peak time slots. This combination of old school and digital allows companies to prioritize brand awareness, while having a measurable sense of impact.

Another great example of this in action is Coinbase’s inspired QR code idea that was shown in an ad during this year’s Super Bowl. Playing the classic bouncing DVD logo, scanning the code, it gave users a promotion. The idea – which was so popular it temporarily broke the app – is a perfect example of the potential impact of marketing that mixes old-world nostalgia with current-era technology to track performance.

A new goal in the digital world

The value of a viral event or internet moment cannot be underestimated. After all, that’s basically every brand’s biggest hope from their social media handlers. And this growing focus on brand awareness rather than measurable benefits can be seen in the way platforms like TikTok are used to develop brand identity, rather than filter ads in “For You” feeds. The Duolingo language app is an example of how a seemingly silly idea can attract a cult following for a brand.

The company’s TikTok account, which has 4.2 million followers, consists almost entirely of their giant green bird mascot who does mischief and jumps on viral trends. The brand voice also subverts the expectation of an encouraging educational app and is actually somewhat passive-aggressive when users are about to lose their practice streak. It’s a brand that understood the value of going viral when TikTok was just taking off. This type of strategy sits midway between the viral marketing events of the past decade – like Red Bull’s extreme sports stunts – and the bold voices of social media companies like Denny’s or Chipotle. These tactics are original, real and in touch with the modern consumer, not just another digital advertisement that gets lost in the mess.

Related: How Taco Bell Proves Old-School Marketing Tactics Still Work

And after?

It seems only a matter of time before we see a greater return to older methods. Who will get the next jingle? Will a major brand reintroduce coupons? Are handwritten letters becoming the norm? Marketing as an industry clings to the concept of the “new” version of the “old,” and it’s no surprise that these strategies are enjoying a resurgence in an age when everything from fashion to music passing through the decoration, recalls the beginning of the 2000s.

But above all, within these trends is a greater desire for real-life interaction, more meaningful brand messaging, and a break from the overwhelming all that is the internet in an ever-changing digital age. evolution. So in this case, it’s worth reflecting on the old-school benefits and considering the tactics that have since dissipated throughout digital transformation. Maybe you can even try one out and see how it goes.


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