What Is Traditional Marketing? And should you leverage it? 


By Nerly Shammah Sep 21, 2023


Traditional marketing involves all conventional or pre-internet promotional efforts targeted at potential business prospects.


Image Representation Of Traditional Marketing


Before the out-break of digital marketing where businesses leverage various internet-based platforms and electronic channels to promote products and services, marketing was traditionally done via offline channels like billboards, Televisions and Radio stations. 


As the Internet became the center of commerce as human daily attention is being more frequently spent on digital spaces, many businesses have opted to move their promotional activities to the digital realm, leaving many new startups asking "Is Traditional Marketing Still worth it?" 


This article aims to broadly explain traditional marketing and deeply explore its business value to ascertain a conclusion on if it's still currently worth it or not. 


At Glance


●  Traditional marketing refers to the promotions of products and services via offline business channels that predates digital marketing channels. 


●  Television stations, radio stations, billboards and prints are the most common forms of traditional marketing channels.


●  Traditional marketing involves all business marketing strategies and techniques that dates back to the 19s where digital marketing did not exist. 


●  Traditional marketing is an effective way to promote products and services to local and national audiences. 


●  It is reported that brands with traditional marketing presence are found more "trustworthy" than businesses spotted on random digital spaces. 



Understanding Traditional Marketing


If you're never received a flyer, brochure, pamphlet, booklet, or leaflet while just casually walking on the streets then you're probably living in an alternative universe. 


But if you have, that right there, was marketing, precisely "traditional marketing" in which you were seen as a "prospect" thus handed that promotional material by the marketer. 


But this isn't all there is to traditional marketing, other common methods traditional marketers promote their products or services is via TV or Radio commercials, that short video clip that interrupts your program on TV or the short audio message that interrupts your radio listening session is a form of traditional marketing. 


Majority of the time, you don't care that those commercials interrupt your program, in fact, you may even find them as "added" entertainment, this is effectively the value of traditional marketing and it's the obvious edge it has over annoying and intrusive digital marketing campaigns.


That said, traditional marketing involves all promotional initiatives employed by businesses to expand their user or consumer base that predates all digital marketing strategies. It is important to understand that there's a difference between traditional marketing and offline marketing, only marketing activities that date back before the break-out of the Internet and its digital marketing storm are considered "traditional". All other marketing techniques or methods that are not digital are called "offline marketing" and this includes all traditional marketing methods too and more. 


Types Of Traditional Marketing


Traditional marketing strategies come in various forms and values, all with its own associated cost of operation. That said, the most common reality of traditional marketing is that it builds business trust via the effective weapon of human-to-human interaction, a physical touch not present nor felt in digital marketing initiatives. 


The following are the various types and channels of traditional marketing commonly leveraged by marketers. 


1. Outdoor Marketing


Traditionally, marketing has been an outdoor activity, meeting potential consumers outside their homes, work spaces and businesses. Most marketers do this via directly communicating about products through the streets while others leave promotional materials in key places like bus stops, train stations, bridges, etc. 


These promotional materials include posters and movable sign boards for businesses that can afford to spend on them. 


It is reported that about 55% of outdoor ad viewers tend to find the content engaging, 34% of consumers have reported that an out-door ad has influenced what they purchase and over 68% of consumers tend to make purchases while in their cars. 


Another name for outdoor marketing is out-of-home marketing(OOH marketing). 


2. Broadcasting Marketing


We aforementioned the use of commercials to traditionally promote products and services, all of this falls under "broadcasting marketing". 


Broadcasting marketing is one of the most basic forms of marketing yet quite the most trusted and profitable channels for marketing, traditionally. 


Some marketers speculate that this may be because viewers and listeners typically view these broadcasting networks to be a  government regulated sector thus automatically finding value in every content it pushers to its viewers and listeners. 


In 2019, the ad spend was valued at over $69 billion in the US whilst the global broadcasting and cable TV market reportedly reach over $474.8 billion in 2020. You're probably surprised at these numbers but it would interest you to know that despite the expansion of the Internet with over half of the world population having access to it, as much as 76% of British households still have an active TV streaming subscription as of 2021.


3. Direct Mail Marketing 


If you live in underdeveloped countries, you'd probably have little idea on how direct mail marketing works, but if the reverse is the case, then you'd probably stumbled on a couple of promotional materials sent to your mailbox. 


Before digitalization gave birth to email, allowing us to carry our messages wherever we go, mails were typically sent to home addresses as hardcopies. 


Many businesses have leveraged this as a medium to communicate products and services to individuals by mailing out letters, flyers, postcards, or brochures to various home addresses. This is a traditionally common means of marketing as most homes really take the time to go through their mails. 


The effectiveness of this marketing approach is largely based on the location and its mailing system. Many homes in certain geographics do not have personalized mailboxes, thus mails sent to them can frequently get missing or just never really delivered despite being received by the post office. 

4. Print Media Marketing


Print media marketing is the most common form of traditional marketing and it cuts deeply into other marketing strategies like outdoor marketing and direct mails. Print media is typically printed promotional materials like pamphlets, flyers, brochures, just basically most handouts. Magazines, books, journals and newspapers are other forms of print media marketing. 


Various businesses can opt to promote their products or services or keep their current consumer base informed about their company via print media as it is a very effective way to reach a local and national population. 


5. Telemarketing/cold calling marketing


Telemarketing or cold calling is a marketing method that involves the execution of direct calls to people found as potential business prospects. 


Although it could be found annoying in current times to receive calls from random people trying to persuade one to buy a product or service, however, when done right, it holds immense value as businesses can likewise use data gathered from these calls to generate leads. 


6. Word-Of-Mouth Marketing 


Word-Of-Mouth marketing generally involves the communication between business users to others in an attempt to convey a message of value received. 


Most word-of-mouth marketing initiatives come off as indirect as consumer are mostly focused on spreading the word and not really focused on bringing in new consumers, however, it happens to be extremely good at bringing in new consumers. 


Word-Of-Mouth marketing is simply a "review" type marketing and new potential users typically love to hear from existing consumers to help them make a decision on the product or service. This is often the reason why businesses stress on asking their existing users to speak good of their business outside, and in the digital ecosystem, this is known as "reviews" in public spaces. 


Examples of such places are the app store, Google playstore and Trustpilot. These spaces give potential prospects a glimpse of what to expect from a product or service so typically, businesses that thrive to have positive reviews have the most successful word-of-mouth marketing. 


Traditional marketing initiatives are primarily a combination of numerous strategies of physical-touch and close-to-home marketing strategies. Their success has been largely off the fact that people are generally trusting towards what's physical and very close to oneself. 


Benefits Of Traditional Marketing 

Traditional marketing channels offer several benefits, including:


1. Wide Audience Reach: Traditional channels like television, radio, and print media can reach a broad audience, making them effective for mass marketing campaigns.


For businesses with keen interest to reach a wide localized or nationalized audience, traditional marketing proves to be one of the most effective ways to do so. 


Traditional media still proves to be invaluable even after years of digitalization of information, this gives several businesses looking to promote their products or services traditionally a competitive and profitable edge to market to the masses on a national level. 


2. Materials Tangibility: Print materials, such as brochures or flyers, provide a physical representation of a brand that customers can hold and keep, which can be impactful.


One of the major advantages or benefits of traditional marketing is that most times, materials used to execute these campaigns hold tangible values as they can be touched and kept hold of for an extended period of time leading us to another benefit known as "longevity" discussed below. 


3. Longevity: Print materials and billboards can have a longer lifespan than online ads, as they may be seen by people over an extended period.


With print materials being tangible, traditional marketing holds far more "longevity" value to digital marketing because promotional materials can be held over a period of time, being seen by new individuals each step of the way, effectively attracting more potential consumers. 


4. Established Brand Credibility: Being featured in reputable newspapers or magazines can lend credibility to your brand or product.


Traditional marketed products and services are generally found more credible than digitally marketed ones, this is primarily due to the gap between people and digital spaces which makes many things within that ecosystem feel "unreal". 


Over the years, there has been several efforts to bring some sense of realness to digital products and services, one of such was is the developments of what is called "The Metaverse", but as such infrastructure is yet to be actualized, consumers are still more inclined to find traditionally operating companies more credible that others. 


5. Local Targeting: Traditional marketing can be tailored to specific local markets, making it effective for businesses with geographically focused audiences.


6. Familiarity: Many consumers are accustomed to traditional marketing channels, which can make them more comfortable and receptive to these messages.


A select set of individuals are largely skeptical about digital or online business, they generally view them as "scams" and would stay very far off. Bringing some of a business's promotional activities through traditional marketing channels would help familiarize a business with this select population, giving the business an edge to flourish more broadly. 


7. Less Competition: With the rise of digital marketing, there's less competition in some traditional channels, potentially leading to better visibility.


Digital marketing is known to be over saturated, this effectively means that traditional marketing channels are left open in these times. Businesses who seek to actually connect with the undistracted population would use traditional marketing channels to communicate business value. 


8. Brand Awareness: Consistent use of traditional channels can help build brand awareness over time.


Most of the popular brands that can't seem to be phased out by digitalization were built up traditionally. There is just so much evidence to justify the value of traditional marketing in building brand awareness that will stand the test of time. 


Challenges Of Traditional Marketing 


Although it remains a key marketing playing field for businesses, traditional marketing has its flaws and major challenges that restricts business from scaling to certain heights. The following are 7 common challenges faced by traditional marketing:


1. Limited Targeting: Traditional marketing often helps businesses reach a broad audience, however, this comes at the cost of effectively targeting specific demographics or customer segments.


Though great for localized audiences and national audiences, the limitations in targeting is found in the inability for businesses to easily filter marketing movements by age, interest and purchasing habits amongst other things in STP marketing. 


2. High Costs: Traditional marketing is generally more costly when compared to digital marketing. 


Advertising through print, TV, or radio can be expensive, especially for small businesses with limited budgets.


3. Limited Analytics: In addition to having a limitation in targeting, the by-product of that flaw is the adsense performance tracking and analysis. 


It's harder to track and measure the effectiveness of traditional marketing campaigns compared to digital marketing which also makes it difficult to assess a business's ROI.


4. Declining User Reach: Reportedly, traditional media outlets, like newspapers and magazines, have seen declining readership and viewership in favor of digital alternatives.


As such, the reach of traditional marketing campaigns is shrinking while the digital marketing space is growing daily with over half the world population currently being the target audience for digital marketing campaigns. 


5. Difficulty in Adaptation: Traditional marketing strategies are rather slow to adapt to changing trends and consumer behavior, making it challenging to stay relevant in a world of ever changing user behavior.


Once a traditional marketing campaign is launched, it is often difficult and very costly to adjust campaign strategies to fit trend changes, so most businesses and marketers will generally ignore various opportunities that come with this due to difficulties it poses. 


6. Lack of Interactivity: Traditional marketing methods lack the interactivity and engagement that digital marketing channels offer.


Consumer engagement helps generate leads to enable businesses to improve or build new in-demand products or services from the data obtained from user engagement. The lack of this in traditional marketing directly limits a business or company's ability to scale effectively as they lack the consistent and accurate user data to do so. 


7. Competition: Companies or businesses that market traditional face difficulty to win competitions with digital businesses. 


With a variety of problem-solving marketing tools within the digital ecosystem and business building professionals seeking digital businesses to work for, traditionally operating businesses find themselves in shaky grounds as digital marketers can easily scale their products and services due to low cost advertising, easier targeting and analytics, and of course, growing business audience. 


Should you leverage traditional marketing as a business?


Yes, marketing your business via traditional marketing channels holds great value. As thoroughly discussed above, traditional marketing still proves valuable due to its tendency to make businesses appear more credible and its enablement to reach wide audiences like on the national level. 


However, if your question is if you should choose traditional marketing over digital marketing then the answer would depend on what business it is you're building and where your target audience is. It is important to note that as technology continues to expand into our daily lives, businesses will have no choice but to have digital identities so the combination of traditional and digital marketing strategies would be the best for businesses in current times. 


Is Traditional Marketing a good career path? 


Yes, traditional marketing is a good career path with enormous opportunities. Considering the low complexity and competition in the ecosystem, pursuing a career in traditional marketing is great. 


What are the best traditional marketing methods? 


The best traditional marketing methods include broadcasting on TV and radios, print media and word-of-mouth marketing. 




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