retail marketing 101 grow store

1950s America is sometimes referred to as an “advertiser’s dream”. With the war over, the economy growing, and TVs in most homes, advertisers could reach their audiences in the living room.

Many of the ads that were made at the time would never be released today; they were often sexist, offensive, or downright dangerous.

From the 1930s to the 1950s, “doctors recommend” was a popular tag line for cigarettes. 

Marketing and advertising are now very different from decades ago – but some businesses are still solely relying on the traditional marketing tactics that worked back then. With digital/online marketing growing all the time, however, some businesses are making the mistake of only relying on digital marketing.

Case in point: game companies are paying gamers up to $50,000 an HOUR to play new games and advertise them.

The reality is that it’s not a case of either/or: smart business owners need to be using both traditional and digital marketing to grow. It may be retail marketing 101 but it makes sense.

So just what counts as traditional marketing and what are the tactics you should be using?

advertising examples marketing

Marketing 101: What is traditional marketing and which tactics are best?

What is traditional marketing?

Traditional marketing is a little harder to define, as it generally means any kind of marketing that has been in use for years.

Which is a pretty wide definition. When you think about it, in another few years, that definition could include digital marketing tactics like social media marketing. After all, Facebook was created 15 years ago now.

Generally, traditional marketing has four main types:

  • Print: For example, advertisements in newspapers, newsletters, magazines, etc.
  • Broadcast: Radio and TV, advertisements before movies in the cinema.
  • Telemarketing: Calling potential customers to sell a product.
  • Direct mail: Anything that is printed and sent directly in the mail.

Instead of thinking of it as traditional marketing being “older” types of advertising, instead think of it as offline (traditional) and online (digital).

Deciding which tactics to use will depend on your budget and target audience. Some marketing tactics make a lot more sense for one type of retailer than another. For example, edgy fashion stores will see great results with photos and videos on Instagram, while a grocer will likely get customers from mail drops to the local neighborhood.

Some of the most successful marketing in the world has been from traditional marketing campaigns. After all, every year, companies spend millions to advertise in TV slots during the Superbowl. Likewise, Nike’s ‘Just Do It’, Budweiser’s “Wassup?” ads, and the “Got milk?” print ads are all iconic traditional marketing campaigns.

Of course, they also had big budgets.

The vast majority of local businesses aren’t going to have the budget to pay creative agencies for concepts, TV ads, or print ads in some of the biggest publications in the country. Instead, retailers need to be smart – and targeted – about how they spend their budget.

how to drive more customers to your store retail marketing

Marketing 101: The advantages of traditional advertising

You’ve probably taken your fair share of cold calls from companies contacting your store to ask if you’re interested in digital marketing. Digital marketing is more targeted and less expensive, they’ll say.

In a lot of cases they’re right – but traditional marketing still has plenty to offer.

Traditional marketing has a sense of longevity about it. People also trust it more. They’re far more likely to trust an ad they see in a newspaper than a similar ad on social media.

You’re also more likely to reach different types of people with traditional marketing. Sure, advertising on TV might be way out of budget, but radio advertising on local channels is inexpensive – and a good jingle will stick in listener’s heads.

It’s also great for reaching local people. Think about it: when you get mail, how often do you open it? Chances are, most of the time. Whereas you could spend all day scrolling through Facebook on your phone without actually reading/interacting with any of the ads you’ll see.

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Marketing 101: examples of traditional marketing for retail that work

Using the four main types of traditional advertising, let’s look at some marketing campaigns that really worked.


KelOptic is an online opticians based in France. The business teamed up with agency, Y&R, in June 2014 to create a print advertisement campaign to “turn impressionism into hyperrealism” – or, in real terms, to fix blurry vision.

brilliant print ad

It’s a brilliant idea that’s beautifully done.

To keep the costs down, aim to create marketing materials that are visual, print well, and will stand out. Don’t just create an ad that states who are you are or what your business does; give the reader a reason to come into your store. If you’re testing the water of print ads, why not try an ad in a local newspaper with a coupon that offers 10 percent off?


This ad spot from Ikea is completely over the top – but it’d stick in your mind and that’s what any marketing needs to do.

Broadcast ads can feel out of reach of most retailers. The truth is that they are. Most small businesses don’t even have a marketing team – let alone a budget to buy ad space on TV.

Instead, keep it local and focus on radio. Long-term contracts with local radio stations can mean a discount. Focus on creating a catchy ad that sounds natural – but remember: you don’t want your ad to be boring!  


Telemarketing can get a bad reputation for being annoying. How many times have people been interrupted from their day by a phone call from someone they’ve never heard of trying to sell them something they may not even need?

Telemarketing also won’t work for most retailers. Chances are, someone isn’t going to come into your store to buy milk because you called them to say that your milk is 5c cheaper than the store a block over.

Have a reason for your call and keep it short and sweet.

does telemarketing work

Direct mail

Direct mail is marketing 101 – it’s an old one but it works. It can be as simple as a coupon or information about products in the mail, or as complicated as an intricate design piece.

Many businesses underestimate direct mail. They shouldn’t. According to the Direct Marketing Association, direct mail achieves a 4.4 percent response rate compared to 0.12 percent for email.

Direct mail can be used for retention and for gaining new customers. Think about it: direct mail is a pathway directly to the person’s home or office address. Whatever you send, they’re likely going to read it. Most people receive many emails a day, whereas they might only get a couple of things in the mail a week.

Make sure any direct mail you send is visually interesting and that it gives the recipient a clear idea about what you want them to do next – whether that’s calling into your store or redeeming a coupon.

marketing 101 advertising

Traditional marketing and local marketing: big wins for small businesses

Local marketing is any marketing that aims to get more local people into your store. For most retailers, local marketing is what keeps them in business.

Traditional marketing is at its most effective when it’s local and smart. Even if your store has been in the neighborhood forever, you can’t presume the locals will shop with you – especially if they have a phone or laptop and can make that same purchase while at home.

Reaching local people is much harder than it used to be because your audience is being marketed to all the time by other businesses.

You need to meet them where they are. In many cases, that means combining traditional marketing and digital marketing. Marketing tools like Pointy are also hugely important as it can put your in-store products online and make them searchable.

If you can effectively reach local people, you’ll have a big advantage over online stores or big-box retailers. Your customers buy in-store because they want convenience and the knowledge that you have.

However, they need to know that you’re there.

Being smart with digital marketing, traditional marketing, and local marketing will grow your business – and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Interested in using smart technology to grow your customer-base? 

Watch a 2-minute Pointy demo to see how we can get your in-store products online and in front of relevant customers in your community. 

🌟<<If you’re interested in what Pointy might do for your store, you can watch a walkthrough by clicking here or on the gif below.>>🌟

Lisa Sills
Lisa Sills

Lisa is a content strategist at Pointy. She’s passionate about the world of digital, books, and all things retail. When not in work, you’ll find her on her bike (probably in the rain because it’s Ireland) or carefully curating her cat’s Instagram.

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