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7 Marketing Tactics That Have Become Extinct

The other day, I was browsing for marketing gigs online. I came across a company who was looking for someone who could help with marketing faxes. Faxes?? Really? I haven’t owned a fax machine in at least 10 years, and I can’t imagine that if anyone does still own one, they’re very open to marketing messages they receive through them.

It got me thinking about all the marketing tactics and strategies that were once hot, that now are not. Now, some of you may disagree with me on a few of these, and certainly, there are companies who use each tactic on this list. But in my mind, these tools are being pushed out of the way for more effective marketing techniques like social media, email, content marketing, and sophisticated data analytics marketing.

If you’re still using any of these archaic strategies, it’s time to step into the new Millennium.

7 Marketing Tactics That Have Become Extinct

#1. Marketing Faxes

I touched on this already, but let’s analyze the marketing fax. I used to work in a medical office, and we would receive blurry, image-heavy (which translated to nearly 100% black print blobs) sheets urging us to try a medication or medical service. Did we ever call the number and buy? No. Not once.

Faxes use the shotgun approach to marketing, which is one I’ve never been very impressed with. Sure, you may get a small return, but if you have to send a fax to a million people just to make 2 sales, is it really the best use of your resources?

2. Long Form Sales Letters

Not long ago, I got curious about Dan Kennedy, a man known for his copywriting skills. Long form sales letters (you know them: they’re endless and you scroll and scroll to get to the good stuff at the bottom) are/were his specialty. When I received a packet of his work in the mail, I was horrified to find a print version of the long form sales letter. I hadn’t seen one in 10 years or more. Who are these for? Who are they targeting?

Copywriting today is all about brevity. Your audience doesn’t have the time or patience to read something that’s 5,000 words or more just to learn about your product.

#3. Direct Mail

There will be those that argue with me, but I see only rare instances where direct mail works.  I do browse the coupons I receive for local restaurants, but I trash every credit card offer, unsolicited magazine, and political flyer I get.

This is another case of shotgun marketing. Sure, some businesses can make educated guesses about how interested someone at a particular address will be in their products (like the local restaurants I mentioned), but beyond that, how can you assume I am in the market for a new air conditioner, car, or plant? Targeted marketing is a better bet.

#4. Flyers

I get a flyer advertising house cleaning or lawn care services several times a week. Churches, too, are big on leaving flyers on my porch (and unfortunately for them, I’m Buddhist). Not only are these poorly targeted (just looking at my yard would tell you I don’t need help there), but they’re a huge waste of paper. Let’s move away from harming the environment with wasted marketing efforts, people.

#5. Phone Book Ads

Do you remember getting calls from Yellow Pages salespeople about 10 years ago? You could tell when they got desperate to compete with online advertising: their calls increased while their prices decreased. As the phone book itself went the way of the dodo bird (I recycle mine as soon as it arrives), so too have the ads in it.

Yes, Yellow Pages tried to roll with the times (albeit late) with YP.com, but in all honesty, if you’re going to put efforts into marketing your business online, there are better places to do so.

#6. Newspaper Ads

Just like the Yellow Pages, the print version of your newspaper is quickly expiring. Not only are newspapers printing fewer copies while people read the news online, but print newspaper ad revenue is down 45% from 2006. Certainly, you can buy a full-page color ad for a fraction of what you would have paid 10 years ago, but consider whether the people you’re trying to reach are actually reading that print version of the newspaper. And if they are, are they actually paying attention to the ads?

#7. Keyword Stuffing

Even online, there are marketing strategies that are no longer applicable. Take keyword stuffing. Years ago, before Google really cracked down on how it determined rankings in search results, people tried to game the system by including as many keywords on a page as possible. The thinking was, if you wanted to rank for “New York City dentist,” by using that phrase over and over, you’d hit the top of search results.

That might have worked years ago, but now it’s a surefire technique to get you pushed to the bottom of search results. Using well-targeted keywords (and only one or two per page) as well as relevant content on your site will do more for you in terms of attracting the right traffic.

If you’re using any of these marketing strategies, I want you to consider:

  • How well is it working for you?
  • What’s your return on investment?
  • How many new customers does this strategy bring your brand?

I’m willing to bet you’re not seeing stupendous results.

Instead, consider taking the time, effort, and money you’re wasting on these outdated practices and try something new.

  • Start a business blog, if you don’t have one already.
  • Invest in highly-targeted email campaigns.
  • Amp up your social media marketing.

It’s your job as the business owner to assess every place you’re investing marketing dollars and deciding whether it’s really an effective tool or not. Even some of the strategies I mentioned might not deliver the results you want. If that’s the case, give it 3-6 months, then try something else.

Marketing is a moving target. What worked last year might not work this year. You have to constantly assess and change your strategy to ensure you remain competitive and relevant to your market.

Images: ”The hand presses the fax buttonShutterstock.com

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This contributor’s Tweak Your Biz articles have reached more than 100,000 people.

This contributor’s Tweak Your Biz articles have reached more than 100,000 people.

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Susan Guillory is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a content marketing firm based in San Diego. She’s written several business books, including How to Get More Customers With Press Releases, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter http://www.eggmarketingpr.com

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Comments
  • Wow Susan this post really resonates with me. My first job back in 1988 was as a Telex and Fax Operator for the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce. At that time companies rarely even had their own fax machines so came to the local chambers to use their services. And now as you say, 27 years on, they are practically extinct. It makes you wonder what we think is new and amazing now could be on the way out in 10 years as it’s rapidly developing even more – wonder what it will be?

  • Sorry, I just saw this comment! Yes, we scoff at faxes now, but will we laugh that we used Twitter in 10 years?




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