Is traditional marketing dead? Looked

(Original column appeared September 2017, updated September 2022)

Traditional marketing is dead – why can’t people understand this?

This thought was shared recently at a gathering of local business people. It was not the first time.
Because the person in question was so confident in their claim, most people just nodded. I asked why.

Stacy Cornay Communication Concepts

Suddenly I felt like the dinosaur in the room.

“Why? Because no one is using it! If you haven’t fully transitioned to digital marketing,” she claimed,
“then you totally miss the boat.”

Oh good? I wonder who is actually missing the boat. This idea is not new. With the advent of digital
marketing and social media, many people believe that the future is all digital and that attempts
market in a more traditional way will not work.

Let’s take a look at this.

Marketing, by definition, is a means of selling products and services. To do this, you must contact
others. Marketing is all about reach – how many people can you reach who might be interested in what you
are selling?
It’s more than just a scope, however. It’s about achieving the right goals within a given budget. Achieve a
million people won’t matter if they’re not the right million people.

Over the past decade, marketers have consistently predicted that their traditional ad spend
would decline, including printing. According to data from the 28th edition of The CMO Survey, on average,
marketers reported an annual decline in traditional ad spend of -1.4% between February
2012 and 2022, compared to a 7.8% annual increase in overall marketing budgets during this same

However, recent evidence suggests that a change is afoot. Contrary to the historical trend, in August
2021 and February 2022, marketers predicted that traditional ad spend would grow by
1.4% and 2.9%, respectively.

Five years ago, the Pew Research Center found that 68% of all American adults use Facebook. In comparison,
28% of US adults use Instagram, 26% of all US adults use Pinterest, 25% of all US adults use
LinkedIn and 21% of all American adults use Twitter.

According to Pew Research conducted in 2021, YouTube is the most used online platform and
there is evidence that its reach is increasing. 81% of Americans say they use the video-sharing site, up
by 73% in 2019. Reddit was the only other platform surveyed that experienced statistically significant results
growth over this period – from 11% in 2019 to 18% today. These findings come from a
nationally representative survey of 1,502 American adults conducted by telephone from January 25 to February 8

What does all this mean? Traditional marketing is not dead.

People engaged in marketing should develop plans that include a mix of tools to achieve their goals
in their budgets. Clearly defining your audience will allow you to choose the right mix of media.
Things to consider include age, income, gender, interests, geographic location, and more.

I remember my mother saying, “If everyone wanted to jump off a bridge, would you
this?” It was usually when I wanted to do something fun. And, I usually thought, yes! However, I find
I think of this myself when I hear business people say that the only way forward is digital. Digital is good
especially used in conjunction with other tools. But instead of jumping off the bridge with everyone,
consider charting your own course.

Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Publicité. She may be
reached at 303-638-7127; [email protected];; Concepts; Twitter @CommConceptsPR; or Linked to.