4 Traditional Marketing Methods That (Probably) Won’t Work for You

traditional marketing methods

All of us have experienced this: we’re watching TV and a commercial blips onto the screen, we’re listening to the radio and an ad blares, we’re driving down the road and there’s a billboard we pass, we open the mail and receive a credit card offer we didn’t apply for nor particularly care about. There’s no doubt: Advertising is all around us and part of our daily lives. And, of course, advertising has gone digital too—following us to our favorite websites, leading into online videos, and bombarding us on social media.

It’s unclear exactly how effective traditional marketing methods were before the internet—and, even still, in the new age we now find ourselves in. And that’s precisely the problem with it. However, as creatures of habit, it can be hard for us to let things go the way of the dinosaur (even when they may need to). Let’s look at some traditional marketing methods you’re probably used to and find out why these methods aren’t as effective as you might think and could be costing you more than you bargained for.

What Are Some Traditional Marketing Methods?

In a sense, traditional marketing can be thought of as any kind of advertising utilized before the internet with no defined target audience. These include the following and more:

  • Billboards. Billboards are large outdoor displays, usually found in high-traffic areas along interstates, highways, and main roads so they can be seen by as many people as possible. The expenses of putting up, modifying, taking down, maintaining, and the electricity used to display at night are generally left to the business to handle.
  • Radio Ads. Radio ads are ad spots voiced by yourself, a paid actor, or a radio host that can be purchased on radio stations to promote your business, products, or services to the listener audience.
  • Flyers. Flyers are a printed document used to promote a business, event, or sale and can be handed out or pinned up. The business incurs the cost of printing and distributing flyers.
  • Direct Mail. Direct mail are print materials which promote the business that are sent to bought (or subscriber) mailing lists.

Why Is Digital Advertising Often More Effective Than Traditional Marketing Methods?

The above list is not exhaustive by any means, but these are the major ones you’ll often see mentioned the most. Here are some reasons why digital marketing/advertising outshines them.


When it comes right down to it, traditional marketing is much more expensive than digital marketing, especially for a smaller business.

  • Depending on the location, physical billboards can cost anywhere between $750–$14,000+ a month. Digital billboards are less expensive than physical ones—but still range in the high hundreds to thousands of dollars each month.
  • Radio advertising pricing also depends on location, the size of the station and its audience, and ad length. However, the average price is around $200–$5,000 per week. 
  • Depending on the amount, paper type, turnaround time, ink, and size, professional flyer and brochure copywriting services can cost anywhere from $200–$500.
  • Depending on how much you spend on direct mail lists—from copywriting, design, printing, and distribution—direct mail costs can range from $0.30 per piece to more than $10.

As these numbers show, things can get pretty costly pretty quickly with traditional marketing methods. And a lot of times, for a smaller business, every dollar counts. If you think about the ROI you’re getting with these marketing methods, they quickly lose their (very limited) value.

On the other hand, with digital marketing, it is easier to control your ad spend and still see results worth your time and money, even if you do it all yourself (which we don’t necessarily recommend for reasons forthcoming).


With traditional marketing methods, small businesses are at the mercy of their chosen medium’s (very broad) audience. Pertaining to billboards, this is basically any and everyone who happens to be in that area. Radio can be slightly more targeted to listener preference, but again, still very broad. And obviously, with flyers and direct mail, the audience is subject to whoever happens to be in the area where you pass out your flyers and the criteria for the people on the bought mailing list. In short, you have no control over who’s seeing your advertising—and it could easily be falling on deaf ears.

Audience targeting through digital means allows you to get your business or product in front of the right people who are most likely to be interested in and purchase your product. Depending on who you want your ads to be seen by, you can target an audience based on demographics (age, gender, education, etc.), psychographics (interests, activities, lifestyle choices), behaviors (ads clicked through, websites visited, purchased items), and more.


It’s often difficult to track how effective traditional marketing methods are, but it’s not impossible. However, most of the strategies to do so depend on active customer participation, which leaves a lot of room for unknowns. Some of these strategies include conducting customer surveys, using unique phone numbers, and coupon codes.

Conversely, with digital marketing, tracking is built into the customer experience the second they lay eyes on your ad and with each action step they take, all the way through to subscribing to your newsletter, downloading an ebook, or purchasing a product. And if you’re running multiple ads, you can see which are performing better than others and with what audience. You also have the ability to easily change an ad that’s not performing at the level you want it to and adjust the length of the campaign.

What Are Some Digital Marketing First Steps for Small Businesses?

Right about now, you might be wondering what you can do to dip your toes into the ocean that is online marketing. We’ve outlined a few of the first steps you can take below.

Create a Monthly Plan for Your Social Media (If Pertinent to Your Industry)

Obviously, you want to be active on social media (if it pertains to your industry to do so). And often it actually does—and is beneficial for you to do. You’d be surprised how many people in your industry spend time on social media, scrolling through Facebook or swiping through Instagram. 

But posting without a plan isn’t doing you (or your content) any favors. You want to set up a strategy or monthly plan. Your strategy should outline who you’re trying to talk to, your posting frequency, and the platforms you want to focus on. Often, your posting schedule and content goals will change depending on the platform (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.).

Some easy ways to generate interest is by featuring product promotions, showing demos, offering inside looks into your business or operation, and actively engaging with your consumers and followers. You can also increase reach by boosting social posts through platform-specific advertising.

Optimize Your Website

Your site shouldn’t just be ‘out there’ without a purpose or any work behind it. You need to optimize it for search engines and your audience. You can do this by setting up a keyword strategy, implementing that strategy, and ensuring your website is fully tagged and accessible. Put another way: you can perform a content refresh, add in better calls to action, or introduce video and more compelling images/photography. Yes, it’s a lot of groundwork to cover—and then some. It’s why we highly recommend partnering with an agency to help get your site up to snuff.

Set Up a Google Business Profile

Along this same vein, you’ll want to create a Google Business Profile (GBP) to showcase your business on Google. Think of your GBP as a standalone portal to your online content that complements your existing website presence. Through your GBP, local patrons can view your offerings, learn about your services, know your business hours, and more. This is a great way to get on the map (quite literally) for your local area. Your GBP also houses Google reviews, which show other users what past customers/clients think of your business. These are very good at helping with conversions, so asking for/getting reviews is essential to beefing up your GBP. 

Switch to Google Analytics 4

Another great step is to set up and start tracking your website through Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This is Google’s newest analytics installment, and it’s how to adequately track and understand your website data. Not having a GA4 account leaves you in the dark about your online traffic, conversions, and more.

Best practice is to review your analytics once per month or, at least, once per quarter. This will allow you to see what’s working with your website and what needs to be adjusted. You can also enlist someone (or a company) to come alongside you and look over your analytics and strategy with you to find out what’s most effective.

Get Effective, Digital Marketing with Uptick Marketing

Still unconvinced that the switch to digital marketing is worth it or that traditional marketing isn’t the commercial titan it once was? According to S&P, digital advertising could reach 75 percent of total U.S. advertising by 2025. In this same report, many traditional mediums (cable, broadcast TV, radio) were forecasted to decline in advertising spend (some as much as 10 percent). While this report acknowledged that outdoor advertising (i.e. billboards) could keep some of its competitive edge, that was because of the switch to digital billboards, which allows businesses to quickly schedule dynamic ads.

We’re not just saying all this because it’s our job (no, really). We help create success stories for our clients through effective digital marketing strategies that work and we offer transparent communication throughout. We don’t try to sell you needless services we don’t think will work for your business.

The bottom line is this: While traditional marketing methods have their merit in some respects and for some industries, there’s no doubt that digital marketing is the way of the future. Allow Uptick Marketing to help reach your intended audience better than ever. We are more than excited to hear from you.

About Jerry

Jerry (a.k.a. ‘ol’ Presentation Eyes’) is a founding partner at Uptick and our Vice President of Business Development. Jerry has 20+ years of digital marketing experience and has worked extensively with several local businesses, from dental practices to retail stores. Over his career, Jerry has worked with businesses, big and small, including brands like Target, Wells Fargo, and Coca-Cola United. He has also been engaged in several speaking events, presenting at the American Marketing Association, American Advertising Federation, and for chamber of commerces across Alabama.

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