Last Updated: November 30, 2020

The 2012 Super Bowl broke viewing records with an average of 111.3 million viewers—the largest audience in United States television history. But that’s not the only surprising statistic about the biggest football game ever played.

According to a recent Nielsen survey, more people watch the Super Bowl for the advertising than for the game itself. Only 49 percent of viewers are primarily interested in the sports action, while 51 percent say they enjoy the commercials more.

TV spots are just one example of traditional marketing, a category that includes several time-tested marketing techniques. Some traditional marketing strategies are nearly as old as civilization itself—and they’re still effective today.

What is traditional marketing?

Traditional marketing is a rather broad category that incorporates many forms of advertising and marketing. It’s the most recognizable typse of marketing, encompassing the advertisements that we see and hear every day. Most traditional marketing strategies fall under one of four categories: print, broadcast, direct mail, and telephone. (See also Cross-Media Marketing)

Print marketing is the oldest form of traditional marketing. Loosely defined as advertising in paper form, this strategy has been in use since ancient times, when Egyptians created sales messages and wall posters on papyrus. Today, print marketing usually refers to advertising space in newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and other printed materials intended for distribution.

Traditional Marketing Categories

  • Print: Includes advertisements in newspapers, newsletters, magazines, brochures, and other printed material for distribution
  • Broadcast: Includes radio and television commercials, as well as specialized forms like on-screen movie theater advertising
  • Direct mail: Includes fliers, postcards, brochures, letters, catalogs, and other material that is printed and mailed directly to consumers
  • Telemarketing: Includes requested calling and cold calling of consumers over the phone

Broadcast marketing includes television and radio advertisements. Radio broadcasts have been around since the 1900s, and the first commercial broadcast—a radio program supported by on-air advertisements—aired on November 2, 1920. Television, the next step in entertainment technology, was quicker to adopt advertising, with less than ten years between its inception and the first television commercial in 1941.

Direct mail marketing uses printed material like postcards, brochures, letters, catalogs, and fliers sent through postal mail to attract consumers. One of the earliest and most well-known examples of direct mail is the Sears Catalog, which was first mailed to consumers in 1888. (See also Direct Mail Marketing)

Finally, telephone marketing, or telemarketing, is the practice of delivering sales messages over the phone to convince consumers to buy a product or service. This form of marketing has become somewhat controversial in the modern age, with many telemarketers using aggressive sales tactics. The U.S. federal government has passed strict laws governing the use of telemarketing to combat some of these techniques. (See also Telemarketing)

Who implements traditional marketing strategies?

Because it encompasses so many different strategies, nearly every company selling a product or service uses one or more types of traditional marketing as part of an overall advertising strategy. For the most part, this form of advertising depends on the company’s available marketing budget.

Mid-sized companies and large corporations are most likely to use TV commercials. Advertising on television is usually the most expensive form of marketing, with prices depending on the time slots and programming content. For example, a 30-second commercial during Super Bowl 2012 was around $3.5 million, more than $100,000 per second—and that figure doesn’t include production costs.

Bigger companies also use direct mail more often, as the design, printing, and mailing expenses can add up to substantial amounts. Mid-sized and large businesses often use all forms of traditional marketing in one way or another.

Entrepreneurs and small businesses, who may have limited marketing budgets, most often use print marketing in newspapers or newsletters to advertise to local customers. Many also place local radio advertisements. Some use direct mail, and a few may employ limited telemarketing.

While network television commercials are usually out of the budget range for smaller companies, local cable programming has made television advertising more accessible for these types of businesses, with costs running as low as $15 for a 30-second spot, plus production expenses.

Most Memorable Traditional Marketing Campaigns

Traditional marketing campaigns often have the advantage of staying power. They can become iconic, and instantly familiar to millions of people. The top five memorable campaigns of the 20th century, according to network television powerhouse NBC, are:

  1. McDonalds: “You deserve a break today”
  2. Nike: “Just Do It”
  3. Marlboro’s “Marlboro Man”
  4. Coca-Cola: “The pause that refreshes”
  5. Volkswagen: “Think Small”

How is a traditional marketing plan developed?

The strategies for developing a traditional marketing plan vary widely, according to the form of advertising used and the type of business. In some companies, particularly small businesses, the entire staff will contribute to planning and execution. Larger companies often have marketing departments dedicated to creating advertising campaigns that use traditional marketing.

Interesting Traditional Marketing Stats

  • Television is still the most effective form of advertising, with the highest ad revenue in the United States—totaling $78.5 billion in 2011
  • In the UK, 57% of people consider television advertising the most impactful. The second highest is newspaper advertising, at just 15 percent.
  • Radio advertising generated more than $17 billion in ad revenue during 2011. This form of advertising is also the least ignored, with nearly 70% of listeners keeping the station tuned in during commercials compared to the second highest—television, at just 20 percent.
  • Print advertising generates nearly $30 billion in ad revenue every year. While revenue for print media has slightly declined as online revenue rises, this form of marketing is still effective for many businesses.

Sources: Nielsen, GfK; ON Advertising

The first step in developing a plan is to choose print, broadcasting, direct mail, or telemarketing. This choice depends on the budget and the marketing message conveyed. For example, a store that’s announcing a sale will use more immediate impact strategies like broadcasting or print, while a business launching a general awareness campaign might choose direct mail, which stays in consumers’ hands for a longer period of time.

For print and broadcast marketing, the business must arrange to purchase advertising space. The timing of this step depends on the lead time, or how far in advance the advertising space must be purchased. Some print media, such as wide-circulation magazines, have lead times of several weeks. For example, an advertisement in Sports Illustrated magazine must be reserved at least five weeks in advance and longer for premium placement. Other markets have shorter times, with some newspapers allowing next-day ad placement.

The development of marketing materials also varies depending on the form. Direct mail and print campaigns require graphic design and copywriting. For telemarketing, the advertisers write a script for the sales representatives (or outsourced telemarketing company) to follow. Radio ads may be either produced and pre-recorded, or scripted and read by on-air personalities. Finally, television commercials can either be written by the marketing department and produced in-house, or contracted out to production companies.

What types of careers work with traditional marketing strategies?

Brand Manager

What do they do?

Marketing Career Salaries

  • Brand Managers
    Median income: $76,100
    Top earner: $87,169
  • Advertising Sales Director
    Median income: $113,434
    Top earner: $156,266
  • Media Director
    Median income: $71,914
    Top earner: $91,250

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A brand manager is responsible for planning, developing, and directing the marketing efforts for a particular product or brand. This may be an entire company, or a line of products within a large company.

Brand managers coordinate the activities for a team of marketers involved in several facets of operation, including research and development, production, sales and advertising, purchasing, distribution, packaging development, and financing. These professionals decide on marketing strategies, conceptualize and oversee marketing campaigns, and control the brand’s public image through advertising.

Education and Skills

A typical brand manager will hold a four-year bachelor’s degree in marketing or advertising. In addition, most large companies require at least four years of experience in lower marketing positions, such as sales representatives.

Advertising Sales Director

What do they do?

The job of an advertising sales director is to manage the entire advertising strategy of a company from all directions, including business, sales, and technical perspectives. Typically in charge of a team of sales representatives, these high-ranking managers oversee the development of sales materials, campaign implementation, and advertising budgets and projections.

Education and Skills

An advertising sales director must hold a four-year bachelor’s degree in marketing, sales, or advertising, and typically needs a minimum of 10 years’ experience in sales and marketing. Most businesses hire advertising sales directors who have proven track records in marketing success.

Media Director

What do they do?

A media director typically works at an advertising agency that develops and implements marketing strategies for other companies. The job of the media director is to manage the purchase of print space and broadcast time for clients.

These professionals work with a client to choose the most effective avenues for traditional marketing, usually through market research and statistical models. They are also responsible for working with media sales representatives to place the advertisements.

Education and Skills

A four-year bachelor’s degree in sales, marketing, or advertising is required to become a media director. As with most management-level marketing professionals, a media director also needs at least 5 years of field experience, with a proven record of results.

How can a marketing school help you succeed?

Our Recommended Schools

  1. Grand Canyon University (GCU)

    GCU's Colangelo College of Business offers leading edge degrees that address the demands of contemporary business environments.

  2. Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

    Explore the bond between business and consumer behavior with a degree in marketing.

Traditional marketing is a diverse field, involving many different strategies and methods. Earning a degree through a marketing program provides the knowledge and skills required to effectively use traditional marketing techniques — from print to broadcast.

Coursework in marketing programs are designed with traditional marketing strategies in mind. Many schools offer degree programs geared specifically toward print or broadcast marketing, such as Broadcasting Media and Graphic Design. This includes subjects like communication, which helps professionals understand the most effective ways to design and deliver traditional marketing campaign. Marketing programs will also have courses on consumer psychology, which teaches a strong understanding of buying habits and motivations. (See also Consumer Psychology)

To learn more about how a degree in marketing or advertising can help create effective traditional marketing campaigns, request more information from schools that offer these courses.