Is Traditional Marketing Still Alive or is Inbound Marketing the Way to Go?

Overall statistics indicate that marketing spend is on the rise, although I talk with many small and medium size business who marketing budgets have remained relatively the same. In either case, many marketers are asking the question, “Is Traditional Marketing Still Alive?

Two of the biggest questions business owners and marketing professionals have always asked are:
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  1. What marketing tools and techniques will drive more business?
  2. How do I get the most value for my marketing dollar?


Most businesses have a budget set aside for traditional marketing activities such as direct mail, telemarketing, and trade shows and there’s nothing left over to try anything new. There also seems to be a resistance to learning about and trying inbound marketing strategies such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, and blogging.

For whatever reason, it seems that we as human beings, tend to stick to what we know and tend to resist change. When I talk to service providers who tell me that their business is down compared to the same time last year, I have a pretty good idea how the conversation will go:

Inbound Marketing Puzzled Woman Looking At Computer“I don’t know what’s going on this year, my business has never been this slow before,” laments small business owner.

I ask, “How are you advertising and promoting your business?”

“The same way as always, print ads in local magazines and newspapers. It’s always worked in the past. I have a website too, but I don’t understand why it’s not working,” replies small business owner.

“Have you thought about doing some online marketing?”

“Not really, all that SEO stuff sounds too complicated, I don’t have the budget to pay for online advertising, and I sure as hell don’t have time to do social media.”

Henry Ford, American founder of Ford Motor Company once said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve got. .   That’s not necessarily a bad thing is it or is it? Traditional marketing has worked for decades by following tried and true formulas.

However, the world is changing and there is a continuous decline in the level of response (and acceptance) to traditional marketing strategies:
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  • 2/3 of US Citizens are on the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call List. (via the FTC)
  • 44% of Direct Mail is Never Opened. (via the EPA)
  • 86% of People Don’t Watch Television Ads. (via The Guardian)
  • Print Circulation Continues to Decline. (via Pew Research)
  • Print Advertising Revenue Falls, Online Grows (via Pew Research)


On the flip side, here are some statistics related to inbound marketing:
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  • 35% of marketing leads come from social media, SEO, and Blogs. (via HubSpot)
  • 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content. (via Custom Content Council)
  • Inbound leads cost half as much to acquire than leads generated through outbound marketing. (G+)
  • Blogs are 63% more likely to influence purchase decisions than magazines. (via Content+)
  •  57% of companies with a blog have acquired a customer from their blog


I’m not going to say that traditional marketing is dead, in fact it’s still a viable marketing strategy and it will continue to have a place in the marketing continuum for the foreseeable future.  However, consumer behavior and the statistics around inbound marketing are hard to ignore.

There’s no time like the present to take a look at where you’re spending time and money.  Maybe it’s time to make a change.

What are your thoughts? Is Traditional Marketing still alive or is Inbound Marketing the way to go?


  • Online Marketing is a “part of the mix”. I’m a traditionalist employing/testing any Marketing that works (produces the desired results). The determining factors will always be where/how we “find” our prospects, and what is their preferred method of communication.

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective. At the end of the end of the day, it’s really about the customers and what methods of communication they prefer. I think it’s good to explore all strategies to find the right mix and there’s no “one size fits all” solution.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to share and comment – much appreciated! 🙂