Traditional Marketing: Types, Advantages and Disadvantages

By Jamie Birt

Updated June 23, 2022 | Published May 17, 2021

Updated June 23, 2022

Published May 17, 2021

Jamie Birt is a career coach with 4+ years of experience helping job seekers navigate the job search through one-to-one coaching, webinars and events. She’s motivated by the mission to help people find fulfillment and belonging in their careers.

Traditional marketing allows you to reach a wide audience to build brand awareness, establish credibility and attract more customers. Understanding the different types of traditional marketing forms can help you learn when, where and how to use them in order to build effective strategies that elicit positive campaign results. Additionally, knowing the importance of traditional marketing and its advantages and disadvantages can help you use it more strategically.

In this article, we review what traditional marketing is and its importance, identify the different types of traditional marketing, share the advantages and disadvantages of this strategy and provide some tips.

What is traditional marketing?

Traditional marketing typically consists of any promotional materials that appear offline. Marketing professionals may use traditional marketing to interact with their target audience in physical locations. They typically place these marketing materials in places where their audience is more likely to see, hear or interact with them. Examples of traditional marketing are radio and television commercials, billboards and direct mail campaigns.

Related: Traditional Marketing vs. Digital Marketing: Differences

Why is traditional marketing important?

Traditional marketing is important because it reaches audiences who spend time away from their computers and smartphones. It can also reach a wider audience if you place your advertisements in public areas many people regularly visit. Posting billboards or bus advertisements throughout the area can build brand awareness and attract more potential customers. If one of your business goals is to appeal to a local audience, traditional marketing efforts like television and radio commercials, print materials or newspaper ads can connect you with a local audience and make you more recognizable to members of the community.

Additionally, because traditional marketing has a longer history than its counterpart, digital marketing, audiences tend to trust it more. Similarly, there’s more research on traditional marketing strategies and effects, which means that marketing professionals have more historical information and data to consult when devising traditional marketing campaigns.

Related: 54 Types of Marketing Strategies

7 traditional marketing methods

There are various types of traditional marketing methods you can use. Common types of traditional marketing strategies include:

1. Handouts

A handout is typically a printed document, like a flyer or brochure, that can promote a business, event or sale. You can create these flyers to display in public areas that community members regularly visit to tell them about promotional events taking place at your establishment. Brochures can provide details about a company or explain the features of a product, which you can distribute at events or when visiting clients. Potential customers can keep these handouts with them or store them for later reference when they want to learn more about a company or product.

2. Billboards

You can typically find billboards along highways or major roads. They display advertisements and company graphics. Billboards typically feature images with supporting text that convey a brief but memorable message to the audience as they drive. Creative billboard advertisements can make it easier for your audience to recognize and remember your brand. Billboards can reach a wide audience from a variety of locations, which can be beneficial if your goal is to gain local or national brand recognition.

3. Direct mail

Direct mail marketing sends print materials like letters or postcards to the addresses of potential customers living in your target area. You can send direct mail to people who have expressed interest in the company or its products. Another option is to send direct mail items to community members who live close to the business. These direct mail materials can build their awareness of the company and help them realize how conveniently close their home is to the business.

Many companies, like nonprofit or fundraising organizations, typically use direct mail as an emotional marketing tool. They may use letters to introduce their company and the cause they're supporting. This can create a personal connection between the recipient and the organization.

Related: 10 Types of Marketing for a Nonprofit (Plus Helpful Tips)

4. Print ads

Print advertisements allow you to reach more prospective customers through outlets like newspapers or magazines. If you're hoping to build more awareness in the community, showcasing advertisements in the newspaper can help others learn more about the brand, its location and its products. Determine the types of magazines or reading materials your target audience typically reads, and place your advertisements in these materials to generate more sales leads.

5. Event marketing

With event marketing, you can create advertising materials to showcase at industry events, like seminars, conventions or conferences. You can create booths and larger materials like signs or banners to attract attendees to your booth to learn more about the company and its products. Consider setting up similar booths at other local events, like fairs or festivals, to gain local attention as well. You can also participate in sponsorships, like sporting events, to increase your brand recognition and awareness.

Related: 18 Event Marketing Strategies To Try

6. Broadcasting

Another way to gain either local or national recognition is by making commercials for radio and television. You can make and sell creative ads that help customers learn more about the brand and products you're selling. Hearing or seeing these broadcasted advertisements can intrigue listeners and viewers, which may lead them to research the company or contact you to learn more.

Related: Advertising Spots: Definitions and Uses

7. Cold calling

Also called telemarketing, this type of marketing applies to companies who sell their products or services over the phone. Both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies can utilize cold calling. Implementing a cold-calling strategy allows you to interact with potential customers to explain the product you're selling and how it can solve any challenges that they or their company face. This allows you to build a stronger personal connection and establish trust between your company and your prospective customers.

Related: FAQ: Does Cold Calling Work? (With Definition and Benefits)

Advantages of traditional marketing

Here are some of the benefits of using traditional marketing methods:

  • Audience growth: Options like TV, radio and billboards can reach consumers in new markets and diverse geographic locations. More localized efforts such as flyers, direct mail and print ads can also engage consumers in a specific geographic area.

  • Reusable materials: Companies can often reuse the same flyers, TV ads or radio ads, such as an advertisement that runs every year during a specific holiday season. This way, they can save time and money while still promoting the business.

  • Credibility: Consumers associate traditional marketing with larger company budgets, which signals a brand’s longevity, growth potential and financial stability. Consumers may be more willing to purchase from companies that they associate with these qualities.

  • Brand exposure: A multimedia traditional marketing campaign is a great opportunity to improve brand recall among consumers and increase familiarity with the company’s mission, values and products.

Disadvantages of traditional marketing

It’s helpful to be aware of the drawbacks with traditional marketing so you can anticipate and address any challenges that occur. Some disadvantages of this method include:

  • Cost: While some reusable traditional marketing methods can save money, paying for ad space and printing ad materials can be costly. Considerations about which demographics are likely to respond to which types of traditional marketing can result in more strategic and cost-effective marketing plans.

  • Less clear KPIs: Key performance indicators (KPIs) are metrics that marketers use to gauge audience engagement with an advertising campaign, and these are much easier to track digitally. Because traditional marketing doesn’t offer immediate insights into consumer behavior, marketing teams can establish other benchmarks to gauge effectiveness, such as measuring new customers gained or products sold since the campaign’s launch.

  • Less segmentation: Digital marketers can use a variety of tools to make sure tailored ads appear in front of specific audience demographics, but traditional marketers don’t have this advantage. Since they can’t target their ads as precisely, traditional marketers may benefit from focusing their efforts on broad awareness about the company’s values and products.

  • Less adaptable: Once a company records or prints an ad, it’s time-consuming and expensive to make changes. Since traditional marketers can’t update their materials quickly, it’s best to focus on content that stays relevant for an extended period of time.

Tips for implementing traditional marketing

Here are some tips for traditional marketing:

  • Determine your budget: Clarifying your budget limits at the start of the marketing campaign can help determine which marketing forms are available to you. For example, if a TV ad on a major network is unattainable, a direct mail campaign may be more attainable.

  • Choose your message: Consistency is crucial in a marketing campaign, as tone, language, color and images that all aim to persuade the customer in the same way lead to better brand recall. Consider establishing a campaign style guide to make sure every ad in the campaign is consistent and on brand in its messaging and purpose.

  • Identify potential partners: If you plan to advertise on TV, on the radio or in a newspaper or magazine, you’ll want to identify the stations or publications with which you could work. Reach out to these organizations to inquire about purchasing ad space, and remain prepared to discuss how their audiences can benefit from hearing about your product or service.

  • Hire additional staff: Some traditional marketing campaigns may require experts like copywriters, graphic designers or videographers. If you don’t have these resources on your marketing team, consider working with freelancers or with an agency service to accomplish your marketing goals on time and within your budget.

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