Villing & Company

Reader Reply: Are Traditional Marketing Methods Relevant?

In response to this week's Point/Counterpoint article about the ongoing relevance of traditional marketing methods, Scott Howard, a blogger and owner of ScLoHo Marketing Solutions did some further research that provides additional information about this topic. He has graciously allowed us to post his response below.

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There is both insight and a danger in using anecdotal evidence in making judgments about people. As marketing and advertising professionals, I know I sometimes wish that we could fit everyone into neat, little demographic boxes, but there are always exceptions to the rules.

I decided to do a little research on radio listener habits and came up with some pretty strong numbers that say radio listenership (and television viewership) remains high even among the younger demos. For example, take a look at this research conducted earlier this year and you'll see that AM/FM radio listenership is still over 90% and is only expected to drop ever so slightly in the next 3 years, including the 18 to 34 year olds.

Slipping into the anecdotal mode, I have a 26-year-old daughter and 24-year-old daughter who both have cellphones and laptops, but no cable TV. They don't have smart phones, iPods or any other MP3 player besides their computers. My 25-year-old son is similar to his sisters, except he does have an iPod for his music. All listen to the radio daily, usually at home or work. I asked them why, and they said it is easy, and it helps them stay connected.

Ironically perhaps, their Dad (me) is more involved with social media than they are both as a user for business and pleasure.

The problem with the newspaper business is more of a business model than anything else. Financially, many are in over their heads without an easy way out or alternative revenue stream. The drop in readers contributed to the problem because of the limitations of daily deadlines and the inability to stay current compared to broadcasting and Internet. As long as papers can claim a niche, like a Hispanic/Bilingual paper or Community Shopper, and keep their financials in line, they will survive.

As Nathan mentioned, there are going to be some people that you will never reach via traditional media or radio, TV or print. But they are like the Mac users who make a lot of noise but are still small in number compared to the rest. See here and here for a very unclear debate on the number of Mac users!

In previous generations, our entertainment, information and communication choices were severely limited compared to today. Growing up in the 1960's and 70's I had three or four broadcast television channels and 6 to 10 local radio stations. We had one phone on the wall in the kitchen and extensions on other floors of the home I grew up in.

While the growth of media outlets and communication options have exploded in recent years, like a little snowball, rolling down hill, gathering both speed and size; in relationship to the overall population, it will still be years before we see the complete irrelevance of traditional media.

On the other hand, what we are seeing is a merging of new and traditional. Similar to broadcast vs. cable networks, where both are exsisting side-by-side, a business needs to have an online presence to be considered credible. In my own business dealings, when looking at local businesses, I advise them to look at ALL communication, marketing and customer-relationship building channels, both online and offline. And the key to the future is what I mentioned in the last sentence: customer relationship building.

Instead of a business doing what they want to do, they need to do what their customer wants them to do, to build and maintain that relationship.

In case you are interested, here is a slide share presentation I did a couple of months ago to a group of area business leaders on social media. There are 2 embedded videos in the presentation and it works best if it is downloaded and played from a computer.

You can find out more about Scott Howard at

Filed Under: advertising

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