4 old school marketing techniques that are still relevant today

4 old school marketing techniques that are still relevant today

Thursday May 03, 2018,

5 min Read

It's easy to get caught in the fancy digital marketing strategies available these days. From social media, content, organic, paid, mobile and various more types of marketing, it is almost overwhelming to think about all the possibilities. With even more technological marvels on the horizon, it is downright impossible to predict where marketing will be in the near future.

Having said that, it is only natural to wonder if old-school techniques that defined marketing for decades, before the computers and the internet came, still work. After all, if the old school stuff relied on simple text, pictures and face-to-face salesmanship, could they possibly be relevant today? Rest assured, however, there are still a few things you can learn from how the old pros did it back in the day, especially since many of their tricks influence modern advertising.

Here's a look at the old marketing techniques you can start applying to your modern-day advertising efforts.

Face-to-face salesmanship

Decades ago, many people made a living as door-to-door salesmen. Going to home after home, selling a variety of products like vacuum cleaners, Tupperware containers, hair products and more, these individuals learnt the art of interpersonal, human communication to get a sale. If you thought attracting traffic to your website is difficult, consider the physical obstacles of getting someone's attention when you have a literal door in front of you.

This style of marketing was the ultimate refinement of verbal persuasion. In fact, it led to the rise of visual advertising and pitchmen as television and infomercial advertisements became more popular. Since sales techniques survived the rise of mass media, they are still more than applicable today.


Where can you still see someone's face talking to you directly in the online medium? The answer is video. Video-based marketing has become more and more popular as technology has made video content more convenient. Whether it's a well-produced commercial or a vlog-like pitch to the masses, a video relies on the same interpersonal skills as door-to-door selling.

You can even use technologies like Skype and live streaming to actually interact with people in the same manner as if you were at the front door.

Promotional gifts

Sometimes, marketing is all about incentives. If you can give a potential customer extra value or a reason to do business with you, it is easier to make a conversion. Back in the day, this was often the preferred method to establish and build customer loyalty. Keep giving customers incentive, and they will be loyal.

Some forms of digital marketing provide this incentive with mixed results. Content marketing tries to create the incentive through valuable information while social media marketing is all about the community reward. All of this pales in comparison with the value of an actual, physical reward.

If you have customers who are likely to respond to some incentives, try rewarding them with something physical and affordable. This could be an extra product, service or some other useful, tangible item they may enjoy.

The old-fashioned coupons

It is easy to forget that coupons have been around for decades. For some people, coupon cutting is a way to make ends meet by finding affordable deals for common items like groceries. In the digital age, coupons have made a strong comeback with the availability of technologies like QR codes, image codes and social media links people can use to enter coupons into a website.

However, it is easy to forget that a truly effective coupon is valuable to the customer. Many small businesses assume that any small percentage off will be enough to entice new customers. In reality, potential customers are only likely to respond if the coupon creates a better value than what the competition is offering.

To really make coupons work, you have to know how competitors compare with your business and its offerings. If it is feasible, undercut their prices through coupons to draw a larger chunk of the target market.


Don't make the mistake of assuming that local advertising is over. Even though access to the internet has opened up the entire globe to your advertising efforts, there's still a lot of importance with a local focus. Even if you are an online-only business, you can still actively target specific regions and locations to focus your marketing efforts and rein in the budget if necessary. Most importantly, local advertising has a greater chance of capturing the magic bullet of marketing: word-of-mouth.

These days, it is commonly called viral marketing, but the basics remain the same: If you can get other people to do the marketing for you, you are in a good position. The great thing about word-of-mouth marketing is its credibility. People who spread the word for you, do so with friends and family, and other people they're likely to trust.

The key to making word-of-mouth work today is local marketing. Social media marketing has the potential to go viral, but there is a lot more saturation and questions of credibility in that marketing space. If you want to harness the old school power of word-of-mouth, market in the area where it is effective. Focus some of your digital marketing efforts on physical locations so you can capture customers that are more likely to spread the news about your business.

Mixing a bit of old and new school tactics

Effective marketing is a balancing act of different strategies and tactics working together towards a common goal. This means you can easily mix some of these old-school tactics with a little bit of planning and effort ahead of time.

Think about where you can include direct salesmanship, incentives and promotions and local advertising in your overall campaign. If you stick with it, you can use these old school techniques to re-energise your marketing efforts by putting your business above your competition.

(All images for representational purpose from Shutterstock.)

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)