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From hairstyles to musical tastes, just about everything changes over time. There are some “classics” that never go out of style, but for the most part, if something is outdated, it’s pretty obvious. When it comes to your startup’s marketing strategy, there are also some “classic” elements that will always be important, such as:
- Understanding your target customer
- Offering something your target customer values for a price that makes sense
- Crafting an offer that grabs attention
- Being ethically persuasive
But there are a number of marketing strategy elements and tactics that simply do not work anymore, and should really be removed from your current strategy if they haven’t been already.
(Then again, maybe that’s not the best advice… Stay tuned to see how this turns out).
Here are three of the most egregious outdated marketing elements you should definitely eliminate from your startup’s strategy:
Direct mail marketing
If you’re still investing heavily in paper flyers, postcards or long-form sales letters designed to be dropped in your prospect’s mailbox en masse, you need to stop right now.
Direct mail is not just obscenely expensive compared to other preferable methods for reaching your prospects, it’s also far less effective. Just consider the average ROI of a direct mail advertising campaign ($7 earned for every $1 spent) compared to email ($38 earned for every $1 spent).
Why you should ignore this:
While this kind of advice is thoroughly expected 25 plus years into the internet age, the facts simply don’t support the complete demise of direct mail as a viable marketing tactic:
- Direct mail household response rate is 5.1 percent (compared to 0.6 percent email, 0.6 percent paid search, 0.2 percent online display and 0.4 percent social media)
- The response rate for direct mail among people aged 18 to 21 years old is 12.4 percent
- Prospects are 10 to 20 percent more likely to convert with a direct mail offer than with an email offer
The local newspaper is dead. If you’re paying for display ads in the local paper, you probably run a better chance of positive ROI by shredding the cash and making crafts with it to sell at the local farmer’s market.
While some popular industry trade magazines still enjoy a moderate level of readership, display ads in these publications are simply too costly and easy to ignore for serious marketers to invest in.
Why you should ignore this:
Once again, this sounds like good advice, since “weekday print circulation decreased 10 percent and Sunday circulation decreased 9 percent” for American newspapers during one recent year.
But, what do the facts actually show?
- Eighty two percent of U.S. internet users trust print ads when making a purchase decision, more than any other medium
- According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers are most likely to start an online search after viewing a magazine ad
- Numerous studies have indicated that on a brain-chemistry level, people process print content with greater engagement and focus, not to mention a deeper emotional response, than they do content viewed on a screen
- Nearly 70 percent of the population reads newspapers regularly, according to Nielsen research
MusicWatch reports that “only 53 percent of respondents said that they felt ‘very satisfied’ using the radio in the car. Just 27 percent said that they felt satisfied with the quality of sound. Twenty-five percent said that AM/FM stations played the best music. Thirteen percent felt satisfied with radio’s integration with social media.”
Clearly, then, in the age of Spotify, YouTube music and smart speakers, investing in radio spots is an archaic waste of money.
Why you should ignore this:
You’re probably sensing the pattern by now, but let’s roll with it. Here’s what the facts actually show:
- Over 92 percent of Americans age 12 and up listen to radio each week, creating an audience of over 235 million listeners
- The number of people listening to commercial radio online now includes nearly 20 percent of the people who listen each week
- Every dollar spent in radio advertising could generate up to $17 of revenue from listeners exposed to ads
- Radio revenue is expected to hit $14.9 billion this year, and by 2021, it will top $16 billion
What’s the point?
There are probably at least a dozen additional marketing strategies and tactics that some expert somewhere has proclaimed to be dead or dying, and about which entrepreneurs everywhere may wonder, “am I wasting my money on this?”
The three examples above are just the tip of the iceberg. In each case, today’s digital-first, high-tech atmosphere seems to lend credence to the naysayers’ opinions that a given marketing element is worthless and needs to be eliminated from your strategy. But, in each case, the facts bely that claim.
So, what do we learn from this little exercise?
Quite simply, there are no elements of your unique business’s marketing strategy that should be removed from the conversation if they’re working for you.
You see, all of the statistics above prove that someone somewhere has found success using these particular marketing tactics. That in itself is a valid enough reason not to blindly close your mind to the idea of experimenting with them yourself. The key point is this: there’s no guarantee that any specific marketing tactic will work flawlessly for your particular business, just as there’s no guarantee that any specific tactic won’t work.
So, if you see any other articles claiming that you should definitely eliminate these three, five or 27 marketing elements from your small business marketing strategy, remember what you’ve learned here.
Until you’ve taken the time to consider a given tactic or strategy with an open mind, implemented a range of viable ideas, and tracked your results consistently, your best bet is to ignore the so-called experts and keep experimenting.