Old School vs. New School Marketing: 8 Swaps for Your Old, Tired Marketing Strategies

Stop! Yes, you! Before you spend another dime on 200 road signs, 1,000 postcard mailers, or an ad in the Yellow Pages, shouldn’t you find out which forms of marketing and advertising are actually going to bring in more customers?

With anywhere from 1-10% of your sales (do the math, it’s more than you think!) going into your marketing budget, it’s important to make sure those dollars are used wisely.

Sure, Grandpa Tom may have started his small business from the ground up with only $12 in his pocket and the gumption to knock on everyone’s door until he got his first sale. But those tactics no longer translate to the modern age.

Try this little mental exercise: switch places with your intended audience for a bit. Do those postcard mailers, telemarketer calls, and pop-up ads work on you? Yeah, didn’t think so.

To help you step up your marketing game, we’ve put together a list of the top obsolete, ineffective, “old school” marketing strategies along with their upgraded, new school marketing counterparts. Goodbye, Yellow Pages. Hello, new customers!


Old School: Roadside Signs
New School: Adwords Campaign

road signs

Instead of cheap, roadside signs (that the city is going to remove anyway), try an Adwords campaign. Adwords works better because it is targeted to people who are actively looking for your service, not every Joe Schmo that happens to drive by. Roadside signs are too small and too irrelevant (to 99% of their audience) to grab anyone’s attention.

When was the last time you thought, “You know, little Graham really wants to start guitar lessons. Better go drive around and find someone!” Never, that’s when.


Old School: Yellow Pages Ad
New School: Online Directories

no solicitors allowed

Instead of taking out an ad in the Yellow Pages, try updating your info on online directories, such as Angie’s List & Yelp (the ones people actually use) or putting a print ad in a local newsletter for a specific neighborhood. Getting into the Yellow Pages might have offered you a wide exposure 20 years ago, but the world has moved on since the days of pay phones and answering machines.

Think about what you do with the Yellow Pages…recycle it as soon as it’s delivered, right? Think about where your potential customers go to find products and services they need and put yourself there.


Old School: Aggressive Soliciting
New School: Guerrilla Marketing

Instead of door-to-door sales, cold calling, or direct mailers, try guerrilla marketing tactics, like handing out freebies with your business logo. Sure, there’s a cost to it. But there’s also a cost to hiring a salesperson and printing up all those postcards.

Think about it: people try to get rid of telemarketers and door-to-door salespeople as fast as they can. And what happens when you receive a mailer? You throw it out. You’re not gaining customers, you’re creating very expensive trash.

With the “freebie” tactic, you’re giving your audience something concrete to hold on to, live with, and subconsciously remember so that your name is the first thing that comes to mind when they’re in the market.


Old School: Customer Surveys
New School: Social Media

social media apps on phone

Instead of asking customers to fill out a survey on your website (something many people would see as “work”), spend more time on social media so you can keep tabs on what they’re already saying about you. As much as you live and breathe your business, your customers don’t (I know, we hate to think about it, too). Apart from a few rare exceptions, they’re not thinking about how they can make your business better, they’re thinking about their own lives.

Keeping on top of your company’s social media buzz is a great way to take control of the conversation and respond to your customers’ questions, comments, and concerns in real time. You have a question about what people want to see in a new product or service? Tweet about it! You want to know what people think about a trending topic? Ask them on Facebook.

With 58% of Americans now plugged in to social media (and addicted to it), it should be no problem getting them to weigh in while they’re already in their favorite online hangout.

That being said, if you are going to send out a survey, there is a right and a wrong way to do it. Keep it short, keep it easy to understand, and think about offering a little “prize” in return for participation. A prize can be anything from a discount to a great piece of content.


Old School: Banners and Pop-Ups
New School: Email Newsletter

Instead of a pop-up ad or banner (people automatically close or ignore them), start an email marketing campaign that lets the interested people (i.e. the ones who are more likely to buy your product or service) opt-in. Then, share only valuable content, such as special deals and news.

Banners and pop-up ads have now been around long enough for people to develop technology to block them, which means your advertising never gets seen. In fact, Solve Media has even calculated that you are more likely to become a Navy SEAL, give birth to twins, or survive a plane crash than you are to click on a banner ad. Ouch.


Old School: Keyword-Based SEO
New School: Content Marketing

Instead of keyword strategies (you knew we’d get there eventually), write valuable content. This is both what the search engines are looking for and what your audience is looking for.

There are multiple ways of doing this: blogs, email newsletters, e-courses, video tutorials, podcasts, you name it. But since Google (the search engine king) has recently shifted its focus from keywords to content, it becomes more important than ever to spruce up your content (both online and off) to maximize your readership and your authority.


Old School: TV Commercials
New School: YouTube Channel

Instead of a TV commercial, start a YouTube channel. For decades, commercials set the standard for great advertising, but nowadays? Unless you paid $3 million to have your ad air during the Super Bowl, chances are, everyone is fast-forwarding through your carefully planned ad (or using the break to make some popcorn).

A YouTube channel filled with (say it with me) valuable content—such as tutorials, reviews, and other helpful information—will target the people who are already looking for what you offer. Which means they’re more ready to pay you.


New School Marketing Strategies

Make sure the advertising strategies you use are:

  • Trackable: You need to be able to judge whether your strategies are working or simply a waste of money.
  • Targeted: You want to reach the people who will actually buy and not waste your efforts on anyone else.
  • Timely: Your message should be relevant and consistently updated. Take time to do it right and make sure your message fits the times.
  • Trendy: Like The Little Mermaid, you want to be where the people are. Find out where your audience is and market to them where they are.

[Tweet “Marketing is like The Little Mermaid: you want to be where the people are. #iwantclarity”]

What marketing strategies are your favorites? Do have any others to add that we didn’t discuss? Do you feel that any of these “outdated” methods have actually worked for you? Let us know in the comments section!

Clarity Creative Group is a web design & internet marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. We’re going to have “Part of Your World” stuck in our heads all day….



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