Is Traditional Marketing Dead? 16 Entrepreneurs Share Their Thoughts on the Future of Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing has, for a long time, been the preferred mode of advertising for many businesses. The trend seems to be changing with a lot more entrepreneurs choosing digital marketing due to its cost-effective nature. Unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing offers businesses an opportunity to interact and get feedback from their target audience. Does this mean the gradual death of traditional marketing?

We asked entrepreneurs and business owners their thoughts on the current and future state of traditional marketing and here's what they had to say.

#1- It actually brings more customers

Photo Credit: Debbie Wright

My auto repair shop, MOTEC Auto Care located in San Diego, has really grown through both online and traditional marketing. Businesses do need to market online because that is where many people search for a what they need. While an online presence does work well, I have found that traditional marketing works better and brings in more customers. People like to do business with people they know. Attending local networking events, dropping off donuts and getting to know the neighboring business has made a big impact on our sales. Other ways I get the word out about my shop is to mail letters, flyers and coupons to local small businesses, and it's always a good thing to just go out and introduce myself to my neighbors.

Thanks to Debbie Wright, the Auto Girl!

#2- It's all about knowing it's relevance

Photo Credit: Zack West

Everything is relative to a business' industry and those that stand out from the crowd can still be successful—even if that process involves the use of traditional marketing mediums like direct mail or print media ads. I attribute the lore of traditional media being advertising to the growing comfort of shopping online and the increased use of digital devices by consumers. There's no doubt in my mind that every business should experiment with digital advertising, in some capacity, to gauge the relevance for their market. In my experience, very few businesses are unable to find serious growth potential in the digital markets. That said; I can think of plenty of businesses that can still benefit greatly from more traditional forms of advertising. For example, local services leveraging direct mailers, doorknob hangers, or complimentary calender's and etc. It's all about knowing how relevant those types of materials are to your market. I'd argue a landscaping company would benefit from taking out ads in a local newspaper but a local t-shirt print shop might find better traction using paid search engine placements. So, to summarize, I'd say that traditional marketing isn't dead at all but that businesses should give first priority to digital advertising then experiment with traditional—unless of course they've some insight about the benefits of traditional advertising relative to their business.

Thanks to Zack West, Novomotus!

#3- It has drastically changed

Photo Credit: Paul Cannon

Traditional marketing is not dead, but it has drastically changed. Television advertising is still good for branding, but to maximize you advertising dollar, you have to pick shows people are likely to watch without recording and watch later as they fast forward through commercials. Second, you have to optimize your snippets for your Google listings so that your branded name stands out.

Thanks to Paul Cannon, Simmons and Fletcher, P.C.!

#4- I use traditional marketing methods to get my own clients

Photo Credit: James Pollard

Traditional marketing definitely is NOT dead. Especially the old-school direct response marketing stuff, which is popular in direct mail. Not only do I teach financial advisors how to use traditional marketing methods to get clients, I also use traditional marketing methods to get my own clients. For example, I send out a couple thousand pieces of direct mail per week. I know that for every dollar I spend on direct mail, I am going to get more than a dollar back. Over time, as I split-test these pieces and make continuous improvements, I make even more money. Does it take time and effort to make traditional marketing work? Sure, but the rewards are still there. My personal philosophy is that you should be doing any and all forms of marketing that lead to profit. If I can make money with traditional marketing, I'm doing it.

Thanks to James Pollard, The Advisor Coach!

#5- It has sustained some pretty substantial wounds from its ongoing war with Digital Marketing

Photo Credit: Sam Sternweiler

Traditional marketing certainly isn't dead, but probably sustained some pretty substantial wounds from it's ongoing war with Digital Marketing. Not that long ago, big brands would hope and pray that potential customers would be responsive to wide-spread TV spots, radio ads, newspaper ads, or magazine ads. And for the little guys, well they might spend their entire marketing budget on one or two ads a month trying to keep up. Nowadays the playing field is more leveled and there's opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business owners alike to compete right alongside the biggest brands in the world. Traditional marketing still has it's place in the marketing space, but it's value has shifted. The focus has shifted from how many people will see this ad to will the right people see this ad?. Certainly not dead, but the way to think about traditional marketing has permanently changed.

Thanks to Sam Sternweiler, Opasite!

#6- It's the foundation for a successful campaign

Photo Credit: Stephanie Northcutt

Short answer, no. Over the course of Marketing, Advertising and Public Relation’s relatively short existence I do believe what we as an industry have learned and cultivated through traditional marketing is the foundation for a successful campaign, regardless of the other components you tack on. Can you be successful fully focusing digitally at this day and age? Sure, but your foundational structure of your campaign should carry the principles and foundation of traditional marketing. The theories and strategies hold true today regardless of whether a newspaper is your medium or Facebook. I believe the smartest marketers are finding the ways to bridge the gap between the traditional “old school” way of marketing and the new digital age because let’s be honest, people live in both worlds. For example, utilizing traditional PR strategies to garner media attention for brand awareness, then amplifying this press through digital channels like Facebook amplification. With a coexistence of both traditional and digital you can be more successful and take your brand messaging further and to more channels.

Thanks to Stephanie Northcutt, R Public Relations!

#7- Its very effective

Photo Credit: Joy Gendusa

The internet has opened up a whole new world of opportunity for advertisers, but traditional methods are as effective as ever when it comes to lead generation. Marketers who utilize both channels generate exponentially higher returns on investment (ROI) with their campaigns than those who rely on just one.

Thanks to Joy Gendusa, PostcardMania!

#8- It’s just that the tactics are different

Photo Credit: Vijay Koduri

Traditional Marketing is NOT dead, it’s just that the tactics are different. Our startup is as new-age as it gets — we let video fans make clips and mashups of YouTube videos effortlessly. Yet, without “traditional marketing”, we wouldn’t be expanding rapidly. A big part of traditional marketing is figuring out who your target audience, what your value is to them, and delivering a good, succinct message to convey that value. We do all of that, just with newer tactics, which include social media, online marketing, and video marketing. These tactics allow us to spread faster; we now have active users in over 150 countries. But at the end of the day, without the upfront traditional marketing, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Thanks to Vijay Koduri, HashCut!

#9- There are a few major issues that traditional media outlets need to solve

Photo Credit: Adam Stoker

Traditional marketing is not dead, and I think a lot of the naysayers are surprised that traditional media has continued to thrive over the last several years. The digital wave was supposed to wipe traditional media off of the map. That, however, hasn’t been true and traditional media still has a place today. However, there are a few major issues that traditional media outlets need to solve: MeasurabilityWhile digital marketing hasn’t killed traditional marketing, it has given marketers a taste of the ability to measure results, which in the past was always looked at as a blend of channels working together to get results. While that still may be true, there’s no denying that measurable channels are more appealing in a lot of cases because they give you the ability to measure every dollar. If traditional media doesn’t find a way to make its performance measurable, it will be difficult to continue to compete for budget share as time goes on. Business ModelThe business model for traditional media can’t sustain what the future will bring. That doesn’t minimize the value of their product. These businesses were built before digital products even existed. Now, these antiquated models are trying to compete with the measurable products offered with digital platforms. Unless revenue, expenses, and measurable value are brought in line, the decline of traditional media will continue. AdaptabilityIn the end, the traditional media that finds a way to adapt will win. This means increased transparency, new revenue models, and willingness to listen to clients and their needs.

Thanks to Adam Stoker, Relic Agency!

#10- Undervaluing traditional marketing strategy is a fatal trap

Photo Credit: Meri Chobanyan

Absolutely not! TV is not dead, BTL/ATL is not dead, even Radio is not dead, and most certainly traditional marketing is also not dead! It’s quite entertaining really how at some point marketers have built a wall between traditional and digital marketing and are actually stumbling upon it time and time again, instead of embracing the benefits of the two. Digital marketing is actually a part of general traditional marketing, it’s more of a channel of communicating your brand message rather than a discipline of its own (apart from SEO-related challenges). How can traditional advertising be dead if it has to do with product, placement, pricing and promotion? Are these things dead? Don’t think so! Do we still not decide which shelf the yoghurt we produce should be placed on? We do! Even if it has to do with the fictional shelf of Google AdWords (rankings). Do we still do market research, focus group research only online (and, actually many big brands are still not totally shifting to digital as traditional marketing often offers more consistency, brand building and brand affinity value – just read Samuell Scott on that)? Certainly, we do. So, if you think traditional marketing, Tv advertising or anything else that might not sound as cool as AI and voice search is dead – you are brutally mistaken, and undervaluing traditional marketing strategy is a fatal trap many brands fall into and eventually fail. But! It does not mean that digital marketing is not good enough to replace traditional or anything else. Digital marketing is a great channel, probably one of the strongest channels in anyone’s marketing mix. It has to be there to make sure you reach a wider audience, communicate with potential and existing customers at a lower cost, but one thing – traditional marketing – does not have to contradict to the other – digital marketing, which is a powerful and effective marketing channel.

Thanks to Meri Chobanyan, SEMrush!

#11- Not dead yet, but gasping at its last stage

Photo Credit:  Andrei Vasilescu

Traditional marketing is not dead yet, but very soon it will be. The ever-growing necessity and practice of modern digital marketing methods has already cornered it extensively and very soon traditional marketing will be surely extinct. Technology advances, civilization advances and the habits of modern people advances. People are trying to fulfil their every requirement and solve every problem through the digital mediums because digital mediums instantly provide almost everything what a modern citizen might require. Hence, brands and marketers are using all their marketing muscles to reach people through the digital mediums people use every moment and traditional marketing will be ceased to exist in very near future.

Thanks to Andrei Vasilescu, DontPayFull!

#12- It's great in reducing customer retention costs

Photo Credit: Brad Wilke

Contrary to popular belief, traditional marketing is not dead. Yet. As we continue to see upheaval in the social media landscape, more and more companies return to the solid marketing fundamentals that helped them succeed in the first place: email and search. Without a robust email list and highly-targeted SEM strategy, companies will remain at the whim of platform players like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and their ever-evolving algorithms, policies, and predilections. Email marketing and search, on the other hand, give small businesses and entrepreneurs the opportunity to connect directly with their potential audience or, as we like to say at Smarthouse, to own their audience. Once you begin to develop a relationship with your audience that is not tied to a social platform, you'll likely see your customer retention costs drop while customer lifetime value increases.

Thanks to Brad Wilke, Smarthouse Creative, LLC!

#13- Relationship-based marketing strategies are always going to be “on trend”

Photo Credit: James Parnwell

Despite the advancement of digital marketing, traditional marketing methods are alive and well! Relationship-based marketing strategies are always going to be “on trend”. At TheOnlineCo we get a lot of our business from old-fashioned referrals. From existing customers, from what we call alliance partners- people that we have partnered with who don’t provide our service but provide something similar. Good old-fashioned email outreach, attending conferences and speaking at conferences.That’s 5 different methods that we use, that are typically “traditional forms of marketing” We obviously still use digital marketing as well, but traditional marketing forms a big part of our marketing mix. What I would say though, is advertising strategies like radio, television, newspaper advertising and print is on the decline, probably not dead yet, but cost-benefit is very hard to measure and for small and medium businesses it doesn’t always make a lot of sense.

Thanks to James Parnwell, TheOnlineCo!

#14- Successful marketing is about stories. And storytelling certainly is not dead

Photo Credit: Curt D. Mercadate

People have been asking this same question for years, and will continue to ask it as technology speeds our evolution each and every year. If we're talking about the tools we use to market — then yes, traditional marketing is dead. The way we consume and deliver content has changed. But those are just the tools. And just as great writers are not made by the type of paper and pencil with which they write — successful marketing is, and always has been, about stories. And storytelling certainly is not dead. It's more powerful than ever, no matter the platform on which those stories are delivered. As a PR/ad agency owner, I helped my clients deliver their stories via YouTube, preroll ads and Facebook. Now, as an executive coach, I help tell my own story primarily through LinkedIn video. But the medium does not guarantee success. The depth ad quality of your story does.

Thanks to Curt D. Mercadate, Gravina Coaching Systems, LLC!

#15-  Traditional marketing wins the customer and builds long-term loyalty

Photo Credit: Anant Mendiratta

No, traditional marketing is not dead. Cutting through the market noise using non-traditional marketing channel gets you one-time attention but it's traditional marketing that wins the customer and builds long-term loyalty in the long run. According to J. Walter Thompson, any form of content or advertising has one of the 5 purposes: To familiarize- To remind- To spread news- To overcome inertia- To add value that's not in the product (.i.e building a brand). Just by putting the right kind of content with the right purpose in front of the right audience, your content will cut through any noise there is in the market. Marketing isn't only about building one-type hypes or about flashy growth hacks, its about building a connection with your customer segment.

Thanks to Anant Mendiratta,!

#16- It depends

Photo Credit: Kristen Wilson

For B2C, it is still very much alive but needs to be augmented with new marketing channels and techniques. In B2C, the brand is critical along with widespread awareness done through advertising. For B2B, it is evolving. The business user, buyer and decision maker are all more savvy due to the internet. The traditional channels just don’t yield the ROI that they used to. For both B2B and B2C, a strong online presence is critical. People look for information online first and then make decisions. Traditional marketing can help with awareness, but most decisions are made from online sources, especially when trusted friends or respected influencers recommend a product or service. The influencer marketing market is growing fast for this reason. According to AdWeek, the market was estimated to be worth $2 billion in 2017 and set to reach $10 billion by 2020. Celebrity influencers have been around in TV and print advertising for quite awhile, but online influencers are more targeted and will evolve to be a big channel for marketers in coming years.

Thanks to Kristen Wilson, PasswordPing!

What are your thoughts on the future of traditional marketing? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

Mercy - CBNation

This is a post from a CBNation writer. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue 16 Media.

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