With rapid developments in digital advertising strategies, it's easy for early stage founders to get swept up in the newest, trendiest channels to get their brand out there. But sometimes the past way to move forward is to turn back the clock. Just as in fashion, marketing trends that we think we've outgrown have a way of popping up time and time again.
However, early stage founders shouldn't forget more old school marketing methods in the digital frenzy. As much as some people may predict the death of traditional marketing tactics in the 21st century, the reality is that they're still immensely useful, especially for newer startups.
Here are three traditional marketing tactics that are still relevant today:
1. Street teams
People are inherently curious. When they see a large crowd gathered on the street with signs and giveaways, they (almost) always stop. Sending out brand representatives to interact with passersby creates a more lasting effect than simply sending out targeted Facebook ads.
Consumers are glued to their smartphone screens all day long, so when other people can convince them to look away from their mobile devices and interact with a booth or a pop-up event, the interactions tend to be more memorable and effective.
Additionally, employing street teams also creates a more personal connection to your brand. Because most interactions now take place behind a screen, it's easy for consumers to simply feel like an order number or email alias. However, when customers have the chance to interact with actual people, it evokes the sentiment that they are heard and their opinions matter.
It comes as little surprise that a lot of early stage founders might be short on funds for their startups, as almost 69 percent of new companies have access to $1 million or less in cash. This makes it especially important that early stage marketing does not break the bank. Fortunately, traditional marketing can satisfy this need pretty easily.
Early stage founders need to focus their resources on the most effective marketing channels that will remain relatively inexpensive until they start generating cash flow. Digital marketing can get pretty pricey, even with the ability to create free social media pages and websites.
Luckily, traditional marketing channels can significantly less expensive. Although out-of-home placements don't necessarily have the instantaneous reach of pre-roll video ads or traditional television commercials, simpler methods, like business cards, flyers, and banners are still effective.
These physical placements not only cut down on funds, they also serve as a distinguishing touch point. Every brand is trying to serve slick ads to Instagram and Facebook audiences, and consumers are adept at scrolling through these touch points without really taking much notice.
Vintage flyers, on the other hand, stand out because they are the antithesis to overly produced digital ads: physical, not slick, and emanate a highly personalized feeling as though they were designed by the company CEO.
Additionally seeing an advertisement in the form of a flyer can create a more potent connection; consumers are so accustomed to being served countless ads on their smartphone screens, so seeing a simple, physical brand promotion is almost more eye-catching than a digital one.
Since new startups usually don't have much of a reputation, building up a trustworthy brand image should be of significant important for early stage founders. One way to do this is by using more traditional marketing methods, like employing brand ambassadors to serve as company evangelists.
Consumers inherently trust real people more than brands. Rather than hearing a brand sales pitch, consumers would rather hear real people talk about their experiences with a product or brand. When consumer see real people talking about a product or posting about their experiences on social platforms, they listen.
I should note that I'm not encouraging you to eschew emerging marketing platforms and strategies altogether. Mobile applications and augmented reality experiences are necessary components to stay relevant and accessible.
In fact, now with the latest Smartphone updates, including Apple's ARKit, there is the potential to get innovative augmented reality platforms in front of hundreds of millions of augmented reality smartphone viewers.
Although traditional marketing channels may not pack the same punch today as in decades past, they still work well. In fact, consumers in a recent study rated that five of the top ten most influential marketing channels are television ads, in-theater advertising, magazine ads, product placements, and newspaper ads.
Marketers today have the unenviable challenge of constantly finding new ways to break through the digital noise. Sometimes the best way to stand out in today's online world is by simply going offline.