10 Old Marketing Strategies That Are New Again

Radio Frequency
Will radio marketing become less expensive in the future?

A big element of marketing is attention.

Go where the customer’s attention is and either sell to them or market to them by associating your brand with the attention.

We’ll focus on the branding side of things for this post. Getting your brand in front of your customer. And we’ll focus on some traditional marketing methods that reached their peak in the past, perhaps, but where the cost has come back to a level that makes sense for marketing purposes.

Not all of these strategies may make sense for your brand, but hopefully there are one or two opportunities where you can grow your business.

1. Radio

Podcasting has been going through an apparent boom the last year or so. It’s not a big survey, but thinking about myself my audio consumption in podcasts has increased dramatically the last 2-3 years. From about zero to about 1-2 hours per day.

The big reason is that audio allows you to consume content while you’re doing something else. You can workout while listening. You can drive while listening.

That’s why I think radio will be important in the future. The medium that has been around for about a hundred years. Radio continues to be mostly free or inexpensive for consumers. They have content creators creating great content. Musicians, topic hosts and more.

Some radio is still expensive, but not all.

2. Direct Mail

Right out of college in 2007 my first job was in direct mail. I worked for a footwear cataloguer. It was pretty cool to learn that industry for five years. I obviously moved into digital marketing with blogging, but a part of me is still with direct mail.

For companies, people still put some of the attention in the mailbox everyday. There are opportunities to stand out in that attention space for reasonable prices.

And not just in the mailbox, but also in package delivery. There could be underpriced attention in putting a physical advertisement in the packages people receive on their doorstep from Amazon. Maybe not in the Amazon box, but maybe in the shoebox or the food box.

3. Physical Samples

Ecommerce has been wonderful. You can watch video. You can look at images. It’s great. It saves time.

But there is still great value in physical samples. Things you can hold, see, etc.

I’m a big believer that some of the best marketing is giving away your product or service. Instead of paying for attention you attract your own attention by giving away your product.

Especially in the local business world. Grocery stores have long known this strategy. Free samples make for great marketing. Probably even better than something like social media marketing depending on how it’s done.

4. Demos

This would be the version of the one above, but for companies that do services or maybe sell something that’s not really physical like a software. Or maybe it’s some kind of entertainment.

Just a demonstration of how something is done. Actually, you pretty much see this if you watch TV with pitchmen doing things like showcasing cleaning products and such.

A really traditional tactic that still works incredibly well both in the offline and online world.

5. Premium Gifts

Lots of people still love receiving something as a delivery. In the mailbox. At the front door.

In the B2B world, gifts still make a statement. Especially premium gifts that focus on multiple senses. A type of food that provides taste, smell and even touch. Maybe a fine wine. Or maybe something very tactile like a leather carry bag or something similar.

6. Branded Print Content (Golfer’s Journal)

A recent example of this for me was The Golfer’s Journal. But that was based on The Surfer’s Journal.

Print content will probably never be at the level it was 20 or so years ago. That was a major way for consumers to access content. But with digital they have new ways to access content.

But that also leaves a vacuum for premium print content. Print that stands out and hits on multiple senses including touch and even smell.

The Golfer’s Journal has a handful of sponsors making it a form of branded content.

There are really no rules about brands creating their own premium print content.

7. Physical Signage

We still live in a physical world. There are still opportunities for underpriced attention. One of the classics that has always stood out to me is signage above the urinal in the mens restroom.

I don’t really see people using their phone in that setting so they have to look straight ahead.


That’s not the only example. There are plenty of instances when we’re looking or listening and not using our phones.

8. Branded Video, Audio & Text

We’ll see lots more branded content in the future.

Brands going where the attention is. It’ll be in all forms. Video, audio and text.

It’s nothing new. Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf is one classic example.

9. Education

Educational branded content is nothing new either.

People are usually looking for education or entertainment. See the next one.

If you’re a brand and looking for attention then providing your customer with some type of education can be a great way to earn their attention, trust and business.

10. Entertainment

Another form of branded content. I was in a record store the other day and saw that Firestone used to have their brand associated with a collection of holiday albums.

I think we’ll see more of that type of thing in the future especially in music.


Sometimes what was old becomes new again. Marketing never really changes drastically over the years. It’s all about where the attention is and what the cost is for that attention. As digital marketing gets more and more expensive some of the old tactics like the ones above will become affordable again.

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