Is Your Franchise Marketing So 1990s?

Posted on September 4, 2015


I have an idea.

Let’s use our flux-capacitated-Delorean and go back to the 90s.

Just kidding.

The 90s were cool and all. But let’s be real. The 20-10s are much better than the 90s. Smartphones, WiFi, eBooks, Facebook, Grumpy Cat memes, John Maxwell podcasts, LinkedIn, eBay. I’m content where we are.

Though most of the world has moved forward in the digital era, many local businesses still market like its the 90s …

Most young adults think like this: if your  business is not marketing like its the 20-10s, we’re not listening.


10 Traditional Marketing Tactics we Stopped Listening to.

Specifically, here are 10 things that no longer work.

1. Flyers.

traditional marketing

In this day, the effectiveness of a flyer depends on its creativity. So, if you’re a great graphic designer, you can move to the next tip.

Most of us, however, are not great graphic designers.

Because of this, our flyers don’t work. They’re not sticky enough. In other words, after people see our flyers, they don’t remember what they say.

And if we can’t remember what the flyer says, that flyer is useless.


2. Billboards.

traditional marketing

We’ve all seen billboards driving, walking, tricycling.

Though flyers take time to create, they are relatively inexpensive.

Billboards, on the other hand, are not.

To be fair, billboards are not totally ineffective. Here are some statistics from a few years back, which are somewhat surprising.

  • 71% of travelers look at the messages on roadside billboards
  • 58% learned about an event they were interested in attending
  • 58% learned about a restaurant they later visited
  • 56% talked about something funny they saw (56%) on a roadside billboard
  • 33% have been reminded to tune into a TV program, and 44% to a radio station
  • 26% noted a phone number and 28% website address

Those numbers aren’t great. But it’s better than nothing.

Still: billboards are an expensive piece of advertising. And they, too, are dying.


3. Yellowpages.

traditional marketing

Does anyone know why we still use phone books? I don’t.

If you’re advertising in a phone book, and you’re trying to reach new people, just stop. Hardly anyone uses phone books anymore.


4. Radio.

traditional marketing radio

In the 90s, marketing on radio worked.

Not so much anymore.

Here’s the thing: we grew up with traditional advertisements on radios. And we grew to dislike them. Advertisements were always distractions from the main event, the music. Dislike grew into apathy, apathy into indifference. Now we are desensitized to your best presentation of yourself. Sorry. We just are.

And here’s another tip: do not advertise on Spotify.  Companies that use Spotify advertisements are making a terrible mistake. Nobody likes Spotify commercials. I don’t feel more thirsty after a Coca-Cola Spotify commercial. The only advertisements that work on Spotify are for musicians. And even that is questionable.


5. Cable TV.

traditional marketing

Just like the radio, advertising on TV is a dead end.

Again, we grew up disliking commercials. They distracted from the TV program.

We still dislike commercials, unless they are Super Bowl commercials.

In addition, the world is shifting to YouTube and Netflix. You don’t want to invest in a medium (cable TV) that is dying.


6. Local Newspapers.

traditional marketing

I love newspapers. I read the New York Times and Wall Street Journal every day. But as the former editor-in-chief of a local newspaper, I know from experience the results of local advertisements.

And they’re not good.

Most digital babies of Gen Y don’t take the ads seriously.

Again, local newspapers are a dying franchise. Be careful where you put your money.


7. Company T-shirts.

traditional marketing

Okay, I gotta be clear on this one.

Company t-shirts are great. And sometimes they work.

The mistake businesses make is to only give shirts to their employees.


8. Direct Mail. 

traditional marketing

I call direct mail, instant trash (or instant recyclable for the Eco-savvy).



9. Business Cards. 

traditional marketing

These are great to have if you’re a salesman. Bad to have if it’s your marketing tactic.

Truth be told: business cards are easily replaced with Social Media sites. Tell me your name and I’ll find you on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google +, and Twitter. I’ll find all your information there.


10. Embarrassing Sign Twirlers.

traditional marketing

At one time, sign twirling was original, entertaining, and downright hilarious. Now, I just feel bad for the guys. Twirling a sign outside your jewelry shop does not make me want to go in.

Sometimes, customers will be nice and say, “I came in because of your sign twirler.” Most of the time, these people have big hearts, and they hope you will tell the sign twirler, “Good job today, Ricky.”

Pretty soon, these guys will have to find new jobs. Or go to college.


11. Bonus: Pay-per-Click Ads

traditional marketing

Now this one will cause some controversy, because a lot of businesses use pay-per-clicks. Thinking they are engaging in next-gen-marketing, these businesses proudly pump dollars into Google adwords.

But I see a time, close on the horizon, when pay-per-clicks won’t work. I have no statistics to back this up. I just feel it, intuitively.

Move to the 20-10s: Begin Inbound Marketing

Marketing in the 20-10s has not only shifted from print to digital but from outbound to inbound. 

If you want to engage in 20-10 marketing, you will have to learn inbound marketing.

And what is that?

That, my friend, is the subject of my next article.

Stay tuned!


One response to “Is Your Franchise Marketing So 1990s?”

  1. David says:

    Great article man! You hit the nail on the head!

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