ThinkOTB Agency

Three ways to combine old fashioned ideas with modern marketing

April 19, 2017

In any sector trends often run in cycles, and as such marketing is no different. The Drum recently declared that ‘the future of content marketing is rooted in the past’, and so this week we’re exploring three ways you can combine old fashioned ideas with modern marketing techniques.

Storytelling in a smartphone age

In an article for The Drum, contributor Joe McCambley of US agency POP told a story of how, as a young copywriter, he met the ‘advertising legend’ Steve Cosmopulos at his home in Boston. During this meeting, Cosmopulos took ‘three one-foot-long pieces of plywood’, one which had ‘about 30 or 40 nails protruding from it’, the second had one nail, and the third no nails at all. Dropping the third, empty, piece of plywood onto the first, which had many nails, he found it did not penetrate. The second, with one nail, did. Likening these pieces of wood to marketing campaigns, Cosmopulos proceeded to demonstrate that ‘ONE POINT is all that can penetrate a consumer’s mind. Every campaign you create has to focus on one point, or you’ll never get through.’

The moral of the story is that, as marketing has become increasingly specialised and targeted, the number of messages in a campaign has mushroomed. McCambley argues that in this context, marketers have once again flocked to good old-fashioned content to reach their audiences and answer the ‘consumer’s need to be entertained, enlightened, inspired, or educated.’ Brands can return to storytelling, and ensuring that there is a single thread which ties multiple messages together. Those who are better able to communicate their ethos, principles and value to the consumer can transcend the noise of our over-cluttered modern day marketing environment.

Combining loyalty with convenience

A loyal customer is every marketer’s dream. But, so many people now driven primarily by convenience and instant gratification. Winning customer loyalty to a single brand is a tall order for even the most established brand.

And yet this is exactly what was accomplished by Starbucks. In an interesting article by Forbes, contributor Elad Natanson argued that while the world focused its eyes on the success of Apple Pay, in fact ‘the most successful mobile wallet app in the world is the one built by Starbucks’. Boasting ‘over 7 million mobile payments a week’ which amounts to ‘more than 16% of its total sales volume’, the Starbucks mobile wallet allows users to pay for their daily coffee intake via the app and collect loyalty rewards as per a good old-fashioned stamp card.

Combining the already popular My Starbucks Rewards loyalty programme with useable tech that allows that much sought after instant gratification. Natanson argues that Starbucks is successfully ‘driving customer engagement and loyalty to a greater degree than ever before.’ They even have tentative plans to “white label” the model for use by other major players. Starbucks has shown that old fashioned loyalty still holds a valuable place in tech-driven marketing.

Old school skills still pay

A less discussed element of modern marketing is the behind-the-scenes demand it places on agencies and in-house teams alike. In an article for The Guardian, global digital partner at Carat Jerry Daykin wrote that although many have recognised the digital skills gaps that leaves marketers struggling to keep pace with the fast turnaround of technology, ‘not much is said about an unexpected skills gap which is opening up in the other direction – [that] digital marketing is in real danger of not knowing enough about traditional marketing best practice to truly deliver.’

Daykin’s argues that whereas technology is in constant flux, over several decades ‘marketers have built up clear views on how marketing works, of the creative nuances required, of media planning best practice and ultimately of how consumers respond to such stimuli.’ He suggests that these views still remain highly relevant when garnering reach and emotional connections, even in a digital age. He argues it is the responsibility of more established marketers in the field to pass these old school values on to the digital native generation coming of age in the sector.

Despite the fast pace of change, marketers continue to look to the traditional for guidance in their strategies. Whether through storytelling, winning loyalty or passing on skills to fit the digital age, there is still a central place for the tried and tested. Get in touch with the team at Think OTB to discuss your marketing strategies.


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