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Social media brings back old-school marketing

August 14, 2016

sales manPeople who are fond of social marketing sometimes talk about how much better social media marketing is than so-called “old school” marketing. Generally, this means the old “yell and sell” where marketers thought that if they hit you in the face with their marketing message often enough you’d get so used to it that it felt familiar.Sexy messaging and subliminal stories made us buy without even knowing why.  Don Draper would be proud.

With social media marketing, we are still trying to be heard above the competition and we do repeat ourselves a lot to ensure that, but the content of the message has changed. It’s no longer Buy, buy BUY or you’re not successful, happy and cool. The messages that reach customers through social and results in goodwill, sales and social sharing is more about the humanity. We want to like the brand, company or person. We want to feel we have a relationship of some sort and if we call you and tell you there is a problem you are going to listen. We want you to know enough about us that you intuit our needs and provide services and products we didn’t even know we wanted or needed. We want to be educated, entertained and feel connected.

Isn’t old school marketing bad?
That depends on how you define it. Yell and sell is  regarded as spammy, smarmy and other such adjectives, but if you are putting forward the right message it’s not so much yelling as it is re-enforcing your message and value. If you look into OLD old-school marketing you find something completely different than yell and sell.

Take the salesman in the photo above, snapped in the Florence food market. Do you think he knows his customers by name? Does he make his inventory decisions on the needs of his customer? Is he willing to sample in order to show quality and develop trust? Is the happiness of his customers a primary concern? Is he willing to share a recipe, preparation technique or directions to a nearby cookware shop? Of course he does, or people will buy from another vendor.

In Mindful Social Marketing I told a story about the John Deere tractor company. In 1895 the company wanted to really connect with the farmers that were their bread and butter. Rather than just yelling and selling tractors they began to provide information the farmers really needed without an effort to hard sell. The goal was to educate and become an authoritative resource the farmers relied on, creating a personal connection, staying top of mind and not having to yell at all. Let’s call it early influencer outreach and advanced content marketing, even before that term was heard of. The magazine they developed, The Furrow,  is still wildly popular and they’ve maintained the style of inform first, tell a human story, sales will follow. If fact, the current magazine is read by millions of people world-wide, and old issues are a hot item on eBay.

Another example of old-school marketing done right is the world-renowned Michelin Guide. Who could have guessed that a tire manufacturer would have such success from their early “red guide” launched in 1900? At the time, there were less than 3,000 cars in France and the Michelin brothers figured if they could inform people with automotive tips, maps and entice people to travel to the places they recommended, people would eventually buy more tires. They did too, buying  because of the developed trust of their information, distributed free of charge.

So there, two authentic old-school marketing tactics that looks a lot like today’s content marketing. Are you a believer? How do you define old-school marketing now?


Image credit Frank Kovalchek

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