Traditional Marketing Communication Tools

With the advent and increasing use of digital marketing tools, small business owners might begin to overlook the role of traditional advertising, promotions and public relations in their communications mix. Identifying old-school marketing techniques and reviewing them when you do your marketing planning helps you create the most effective strategies for increasing your sales.

Marketing Communications

  1. Business owners not trained in marketing might think magazine ads, TV spots, billboards and direct mail pieces are examples of marketing, but they are actually a subset of marketing, which is the overall strategic planning involved with bringing a product or service to market. Once that effort is completed, you create marketing communications, such as advertising, public relations and promotions, as tactics to support your marketing strategies.


  1. Advertising differs from other forms of marketing communications in that it usually uses someone else’s medium to send your message. Traditional advertising vehicles include print publications, such as magazines, newspapers, local shoppers, conference program books, annual directories, phone books and newsletters. Long-time broadcast advertising options include radio and TV, with local radio stations and low-power stations or cable channels the TV choice for businesses on a budget. Long-used outdoor advertising options include billboards, car and truck signs, skywriting, commuter benches, rapid transit vehicles and taxis and sides of buildings.


  1. When you send your message using your resources, the result is often classified as promotion. Traditional methods of creating promotions include in-store signage and point-of-purchases displays, direct mail, sales, discounts, rebates, contests, free samples, leaflets, flyers and brochures, event, association and league sponsorships, celebrity or organizational endorsements, logo items -- such as key chains, mugs and caps -- and signs on your property.

Public Relations

  1. For generations, businesses have sought free publicity from media outlets. The fine line between free publicity and free advertising often depends on the amount of value your message has to the audience of a newspaper, magazine or TV or radio station. For example, sending a press release to local newspapers that you are having a sale is a blatant attempt at getting free advertising. Sending press releases that you are donating a portion of your pet store sales to help the local animal shelter lets consumers know they can help pets by shopping at your store.

Communications Plan

  1. To stretch your budget, create an annual media plan that takes your sales and cash flow into consideration. This will help you chose the right mix of traditional and digital marketing communications to promote your business during high and low points. For example, if you have seasonal sales, you might need to advertise and promote your business before your busy season, at a time when you have less cash to do so. An annual media plan might schedule more social media and public relations during these periods to maximize your budget.