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Since 1967

The debate between traditional and modern is an age-old one. We see it in architecture, fashion trends, and restaurant styles. Opposing sides either lean on the comfortably familiar or are energized and lured by the new, daring techniques.

In marketing too, the debate between the traditional and modern rages now more than ever. At its core, at this particular point on the ever-moving needle, traditional marketing often means TV/radio commercials, billboards, printed flyers, and direct mail.

Modern marketing relies upon digital display ads, social media, pay-per-click models, e-blasts, web content, and audio/video ads within streaming services. In trying to reach both young and old audiences, businesses and organizations (especially those without a trusted agency adviser) may struggle to navigate these choices.

We often hear clients ask us, as they debate between “out with the old” and “in with the new,” which option should be the victor? Our answer is complicated — neither one always wins.

Is that answer too wishy-washy for you? Then here’s a better question to ask instead: What will stand out? When you make clutter-busting your primary goal, you realize that “traditional” and “modern” are just the names on the two toolboxes in your hands.

Successful advertisers (and agencies) are the ones who first ask the question, “How can we make our message and/or delivery unique?” then pick from their two open toolboxes accordingly.

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Direct Mail

To choose distinct over extinct, here are a few ways to approach a clutter-cutting strategy:

– Take a closer look at what each side of the traditional/modern bridge has especially going for it, and put your money there. For instance, the organizational pride communicated through a thick paper stock or the thoughtful charm of a handwritten note often can’t be beat. Nor can the ease of engagement of the smartly animated digital ad for shoes I Googled yesterday.

– Look for opportunities to take a piece of the modern and cross it over into the traditional, and vice versa. Like the TurboTax Super Bowl ad that got my attention because it used that all-too-familiar “Skip ad >“ graphic I was accustomed to seeing only in the YouTube universe, or the local hospital billboards to which we added animation and colored lights to make them extra engaging.

– Don’t be afraid to get a little quirky. We recently slapped some stamps on beach balls, Sharpied a quick message on them about how fun it would be to work with us, and then sent them to our top prospects in the mail last summer. Yes, they really did roll right into our prospects’ offices. Dare you to ignore that while you delete your first 20 promotional e-blasts before breakfast.

– For those who can’t bear to move that far offline, maybe clutter cutting looks like simply paying attention to a trend your customer cares and posts about, then customizing a LinkedIn message with some more reading material on that very topic. Turns out acts of thoughtfulness are sadly distinct, too.

You could probably help me flesh out this list more, just by thinking of the last marketing piece that made you think, “Well, there’s something different.” When you see those examples, print them and throw them in a folder with a sticky note like my 50-something business partner does, screen shot and save them to Google Drive like my 20-something digital-strategist colleague does. Whatever the medium you choose, help them stand out and inspire.

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