12 Minute Read

How Digital Marketing Should Use Old School Tactics

By Guest Author, Jaren Nichols:

Which is more relevant for small businesses: traditional marketing or digital marketing?  In the age of the internet, the answer should be obvious.

However, just because digital marketing has taken the lead, doesn’t mean that all traditional marketing should be thrown out.  In fact, you can and should combine digital marketing and traditional marketing into one perfectly-crafted marketing strategy. With the advent of digital marketing, the following traditional marketing strategies have had to evolve and change–for the better.

Target Audience

Traditional marketing is all about communicating value to customers at the right place and the right time.  A good marketing strategy requires a target audience.

In the digital age, the easiest way to do to identify your audience is to create a customer persona. Customer personas reveal who will get the most value out of your offering.  This includes identifying their background, current position, priorities, etc.

#Marketing without a call to action is just information. Find out why @JarenNichols believes this is even more important in the digital age: Click To Tweet

Once you have a clientele built up, segmentation can also help you identify your real target audience.  This traditional marketing technique can be used to inform digital strategies like email campaigns and ad targeting, ensuring maximum ROI.

Personalization has also always been important in marketing, but in the digital world, it is more important than ever.  If you don’t even bother to include the customer’s first name in their welcome email, they are unlikely to take the time to read it.  Luckily, personalization is easier than ever–email automation solutions are abundant and affordable.

These traditional strategies of identifying and catering to your target audience enhance digital marketing techniques.

The 4 P’s: Place

The 4 P’s of Marketing — remember that from Marketing 101? — product, price, place and promotion are still relevant even in digital marketing.

Just as you need to identify your target customer before you can market to them, you need to identify the target “place” for a prospect to interact with your product.  More likely than not, that place is the internet.

Whether you are a brick-and-mortar store or a cloud-based Saas service, the initial place potential clients are engaged and converted is online. Maybe they spot a sponsored ad in their Google search or they see a friend patronize your business in their Snapchat story.  Either way, your target audience is spending their time online, and you need to be there in order for them to find you.

First, you need to have a website and relevant social media.  Second, all product offerings need to be mobile-optimized. In 2017, 50% of global web pages were accessed on mobile phones.  Third, use traditional marketing techniques to identify the “places” (platforms, socials, etc.) where your buyers exist and engage them where they already are.

Again, machine learning and automation can be a great asset in tracking customer activity and targeting ads appropriately.  You can drive brand awareness and generate leads by considering all digital channels as potential places of discovery.

All marketing requires you to meet your audience where they are.  In the digital world, this just means that your audience is on the internet.  So, adapt your offerings to this “place.”

The 4 P’s: Process

Wait a minute.  We just identified the 4Ps and “process” was not included in the list.  Well, a lot of modern-day marketers have recognized that the digital world is constantly evolving the way we think of traditional marketing.  Keen marketers have always optimized the process for their customers, but in a world of technology, this “P” has warranted greater consideration.

Specifically, the systems that potential customers encounter on their way through the marketing funnel need to be integrated correctly in order to see greater marketing success.

Automation is critical in today’s marketing; most agencies are using it already and small businesses can integrate it with few hiccups.  Companies use automation in their email campaigns, billing software, product suggestions–one writer claims that this kind of “fierce focus on efficiency” is what has pushed companies like Walmart and Amazon to the top.

When you are able to integrate this kind of intelligence into your marketing and purchase processes, you can turn the data you receive into recommendations that will steer production improvement and inform consumer needs.

It is important to recognize that the traditional processes involved in marketing have evolved with the digital age and must be optimized as such.

Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of Mouth has always been one of the most effective ways of driving customers to your business.  Now, word of mouth has evolved into the online review. 90% of consumers say that they read online reviews before patronizing a business.

Rather than fearing the online review, embrace it.  Yes, some people will say nasty things. You can’t please everyone (and you really shouldn’t try to), but you can spin the negative to a positive.

Best practice is to take the time to respond publicly to negative reviews, on the review platform.  Be prompt, polite and offer a refund when possible. Respond to positive reviews too to show that you care about customers and not just about putting out fires. Of course, if you do receive fake reviews from trolls or competitors, you can and should delete them.

Word of Mouth marketing is still relevant, it’s just evolved.  You need to evolve with it.


Networking was one of the most important traditional marketing strategies and it still is.  Some have argued that online marketing can never bridge the divide of an in-person conversation.  However, networking is already happening online and has been for over a decade.  LinkedIn has provided virtual networking opportunities since 2002 and is still the most commonly used social platform for B2B sales.

Of course, face-to-face meetings are still invaluable, but there are even ways to make those meetings happen online today.  You can use any video communication tool (facetime, duo, skype, etc.) to schedule and hold a professional meeting. There are so many ways to make an “in-person” impression without actually having to be in person.

Thought Leadership

Thought leadership may be a more modern term, but speaking engagements have always been critical in increasing reach and improving brand loyalty.  Even when Elizabeth was made Queen, she went on a world tour. She had to get her face in front of people and deliver the right message to each crowd in order to win over some followers.

Today, you can use your voice to create brand loyalty from the comfort of your own home.  Webinars and podcasts are relatively inexpensive to create and are typically free to customers.  This is a great way to use the traditional marketing strategy of speaking engagements while leveraging digital media to your advantage.

Another inexpensive way to implement this strategy is by guest posting.  Establishing yourself as an industry expert and collaborating with other professionals within your niche is a great way to apply thought leadership.

Influencer Marketing

We have had celebrity endorsements forever.  The first celebrity endorsement featured members of the royal family–today, we see reality stars and athletes featured in popular endorsements.  The celebrity endorsement is a tried and true marketing strategy and in the digital age, it has become even more commonplace with the advent of the influencer.

If you have as few as 100 followers, you could be sponsored as a social media influencer.   Nowadays, people are actually more likely to trust influencer campaigns than high-profile celebrity ads.  These followers will value the product or service more since they feel that they have received a personal invite from a “friend” to use it.

Influencer marketing is taking the old-school celebrity endorsement to a new level.  By infusing the world of the internet with traditional marketing strategies, digital marketers will find greater success.

#Marketers have adjusted their strategies for the digital age, but what tactics should they always hold on to? Find out: Click To Tweet

Call to Action

We’ve all seen the ads that feature a prominent call to action, i.e. “I  want YOU…” Marketing without a call to action is just information. In the digital age, the call to action has become even more effective.

Especially if you are marketing a Saas product or e-commerce site, your call to action is directly tied to conversion.  You don’t have to place a print ad for your product and hope that someone walks through your door–your site is both ad and point of sale.

Because of this, you need to spend a lot of time configuring your home page.  The design should be beautiful and your value proposition clear. Right away, site visitors should know what you’re selling and why they need it.

So here’s my call to action: don’t ditch the old school tactics.  If you can successfully merge traditional marketing strategies with the digital world, you’ll be a better marketer for it.

About the author:

Jaren Nichols is Chief Operating Officer at ZipBooks, online accounting software for small businesses. Jaren was previously a Product Manager at Google and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.