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5 Traditional Advertising Methods That Still Work

Chris Porteous
Dec 09, 2019

Here is why these methods remain effective and how you can exploit them to the greatest extent possible.

It seems that everyone in the commercial arena is more worked up about advertising right now than ever before. An onslaught of digital technology has radically reshaped how businesses get their message out to customers over the past few years, which has led many entrepreneurs to ditch traditional advertising methods altogether. Despite the hubbub being raised over social media platforms and other digital developments, though, it would be foolish to outright dismiss some traditional advertising methods which still generate impressive results.

Here are 5 traditional advertising methods that still work, why they remain effective, and how you can exploit them to the greatest extent possible.

1. Newspapers aren’t as dead as you may think

When most people think of the news these days, they probably imagine a cable news host or a story that’s shared on social media platforms. Despite the oft-proclaimed demise of the American newspaper, however, it’s a simple matter of fact that many local newspapers remain robust institutions in their respective towns. Businesses that think that taking an advertisement out in the newspaper died with the 20th century have another thing coming, as recent studies have illustrated that ink and paper still pack a surprising punch.

The 2016 presidential election was dominated by a digital news cycle, for instance, but one study discovered that newspaper ads tripled the effectiveness of the campaigns that relied upon this dated yet powerful method of advertising. If you’re a small business or even a larger one trying to make inroads with a local population, familiarizing yourself with the local news landscape can seriously pay off.

Outside of newspapers, you should also look into magazines and other hard-copy publications. Though many people consider this to be a dead industry, there are still millions of customers who are exposed to these traditional advertisements, and now you’ll be dealing with fewer competitors than ever before when it comes to disseminating your message.

2. Neon signs & glitzy glamor still provide results

We’re in the digital age, which is why it’s all the more surprising that so few people are taking advantage of neon signs, which have existed for generations but remain just as effective today as they did a few decades ago. Neon signs and glitzy, glamorous trappings are relied upon by countless businesses in diverse industries for one good reason – they still provide results, and they often do so at a fraction of the cost that other advertising methods would extort from you.

Investing in good LED neon business signs can help your brick-and-mortar location stand apart from the crowd, especially if you invest in a custom sign that attracts the eyes of tech-savvy passersby. Don’t think you need to rely on too modern of a design, either, as having a LED neon business sign that gives off a retro vibe could bolster your appeal, especially with trendy consumers who want to harken back to the past amidst all this digital mania. Glamorous colors and bright lights elsewhere can also provide returns; don’t be afraid to string up Christmas lights around the store or invest in other unique lighting methods to give your business an enchanting atmosphere.

3. Don’t doubt the power of word-of-mouth

Perhaps the oldest yet most effective method of advertising is also one of the simplest; getting people to spread the news about your business by good ol’ fashioned word-of-mouth may seem outdated, but it’s actually quite easy, cheap, and more modern than you’d think. People still gossip, after all, even if much of it occurs via text message and social media posts. Getting customers to chatter about their lovely experience with your brand is a surefire way to encourage their friends to walk through your doors, and sometimes it’s as easy as asking them to tell others about their time at your restaurant or store.

Some must-have word-of-mouth strategies include having a robust referral program that rewards those who vocally spread the news of your business to others. Sometimes, this means literally paying customers to bring in other customers, something which can seem baffling to some small business owners but nevertheless provides results if it’s executed properly. For those who want to incorporate both modern and traditional advertising methods, spreading the news via word-of-mouth can also be immensely helpful.

Encourage your customers to not only speak about your business but to post about it as well – this is effectively word-of-mouth advertising in the digital age. In a sense, you’ll be capturing the best of both worlds, especially if you encourage user-generated content that helps bolster your brand and it ends up going viral. More than perhaps anything else, word-of-mouth advertising initiatives help you cut down on the costs associated with getting your message out to the masses, so consider this strategy if your business is particularly incapable of spending large sums of cash right now.

4. Rely on in-store advertising

In-store advertising used to be popular, but these days many businesses don’t bother advertising their brand to customers who have already entered their brick-and-mortar locations. This is a terrible mistake, however, because you’re passing up an opportunity to capitalize on consumer interest in your brand; customers who have already walked in are more likely, not less, to be receptive of your advertising efforts to the point where they’ll share them with others.

Don’t be afraid to deconstruct norms as you do this; having hilariously sized or shaped in-store mannequins that represent your company’s merchandise, for instance, will intrigue shoppers while giving them something to remember once they’ve left your company grounds. As Dove’s impressive ad campaign demonstrated, the power of deconstructing norms is incredibly useful for brands who want their messaging to stick. Take traditional in-store advertising and turn it on its head, and before you know it more customers will be flocking to your store just to get a glimpse of your quirky style.

5. Direct mail isn’t obsolete

Far too many advertising executives deride direct mailing initiatives, claiming that email messaging campaigns are far more valuable. The truth of the matter, however, is that direct mail campaigns that narrowly target a core group of likely customers can generate serious results without forcing you to break the bank in order to get the word out about your business. Direct mail isn’t as dead or obsolete as many would like to claim, partially because many consumers still like receiving physical messages rather than digital spam, most of which is ignored.

Even when customers throw away your direct mail efforts, they’re actually being exposed to your messaging to a greater extent than they would in an email campaign. After all, nobody remembers the spam emails they delete, but receiving a physical message in the mail, reading it, and throwing it away is a much more conscious and notable action than a simple click. Given that direct mail still has a high ROI, it’s one traditional advertising method that shouldn’t be laughed at despite its age.

The digital age has brought with it a myriad of technological wonders, but don’t make the foolish mistake of thinking that traditional advertising methods aren’t worthy of your time, money, and effort. Clever marketing gurus can make any messaging campaign work, and with a little help from some methods which are old but remain gold, you’ll soon be ushering in a new wave of customers to your store.

Image Credit:

Fizkeys / Getty Images

Chris Porteous
I'm a serial entrepreneur and owner of three internet ventures, including My SEO Sucks. A contributor to ZeroHedge,, Forbes,, and dozens of other media outlets, I believe in SEO as a product. I developed a proprietary technology fueling the #1 rankings of My SEO Sucks clients. In guest speaking ventures across North American, I advocate for organic search traffic as the backbone of any comprehensive digital marketing strategy.