Old School Marketing Strategies That Work For Social Media Today

You can’t talk about old school marketing without at least thinking of Don Draper and Mad Men. While it’s difficult to imagine Don getting online and Skyping with his clients, some of the marketing strategies and tactics showcased in the popular TV series are still very usable today.   

Thorough Research

David Ogilvy, the so-called father of advertising and the man credited as the “Original Mad Man” once said, “Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.”

Ogilvy had a lot of positive experience at Gallup’s Audience Research Institute that made him realize the value of using data long before Big Data even existed. Research-supported copywriting and ideas that are backed by smart research are the vital assets every marketer should use.  

There are many ways to make social media data work wonders for your marketing strategy. Establishing key performance indicators is the first step towards gathering the most valuable information for your business. You can find many useful analytic tools on the market that provide crucial data such as sentiment, account growth, demographics and engagement rates across your social media accounts.

Learning the Rules to Break Them

The Advertising Hall of Fame features more game changers that rule followers. William Bernbach, an ad expert and creative director that co-founded Doyle Dane Bernbach back in 1949, once said that rules are what the artist breaks, and that memorable never emerged from a formula.

Bernbach broke the rules with “The ad that changed advertising,” which was a campaign for Volkswagen. It was the end of the fifties and people in America were still very much in love with big, stylish cars made in the US, so when given the opportunity to advertise a small, rather ugly, cheap, foreign car, Bernbach decided to change the game.  

We aren’t saying you should break the rules on social media because this could get your account suspended. We’re saying to twist the rules in your favor. Be innovative. Step out of the box, or better yet, realize there is no box and let your creativity fly freely.

Avoiding Sleazy Tactics

Helen Lansdowne Resor is the world’s first known female copywriter and was on the marketing scene way before the ‘50s and all the powerful ad men campaigns. She was keeping advertising real and convinced good copy should never be deceitful. She was convinced copy has to be believable, and created ad campaigns that told the truth without ever being over the top.

Social media marketers can learn a lot from this tactics. First and foremost, no copy should be too exaggerated or over the top. People are skeptical when it comes to trusting brands today because so many brands promise one thing, and then deliver something else. So many platitudes and superlatives are used in the marketing world, that people have stopped believing them. Instead, big words and excessive superlatives arouse doubt.

Second – you should never lie. Do you know that millennials won’t hesitate to call out your brand on social media? Yup, think about that the next time you publish a copy that tells the world your product is a life-changing unicorn elixir.

Getting Straight to the Point

Jane Maas is the co-creator of the “I New York” slogan. Short in words, and with a minimal design, it reached epic heights. Maas has shared her tactics and her direct approach to marketing in a book she co-wrote with a colleague. In the book, she explains how the level of attention you reach in the first five seconds is the highest one you will get, so you need to make sure the impact of your campaign is instant – and intense.

The advice is specifically applicable to video marketing in today’s advertising world when attention spans are shorter than ever before. You have to catch your audience’s attention right away or lose it for good.

Using the Perfect Images

Back in the late 1920s, John Gilroy created a campaign for Guinness beer and called it “My Goodness, My Guinness.” The adverts pictured a zookeeper trying to get his beer out of crocodile’s wide open jaws, from the arms of a polar bear, or from a kangaroo’s pouch.  

The funny misfortunes of the zookeeper and his beer were widely accepted, and the right images had everything to do with said success. The artwork was so famous and consistent in the style that it became one of the most extended ad campaigns in world history.

You can ramp up your social media game significantly by using the right images. We live in a visual world, and marketers need to understand the photos they post have to complement style and branding guidelines. Place a company or brand logo wherever possible. When you keep consistency in style, your followers will be able to recognize your brand wherever they see it.

Tailoring Ads According to Your Customers

One size doesn’t fit all. Tom Burrell was the first Black man in Chicago advertising, and he quickly came to realize there was a diversity problem in advertising. What worked for white people didn’t necessarily work for people of color. By tailoring copy and messages for specific communities, he was one of the first men in advertising to include ethnic micro-targeting. He founded his agency and quickly established himself as an authority in crafting copy for African-American citizens. Fedica community building and audience segmentation are powerful tools to search, curate, segment and target the relevant audiences.

Similarly, you need to find your audience on social media, and you need to talk to them using their language. You can’t expect one copy to have the same effect on everyone. Tailoring your text according to your audience on social media is a must.

Context Still Matters

The wrong context can kill a campaign. Take Schaefer beer Ad print from 1970 for example. They wanted to commemorate the company being America’s oldest lager producer, so advertisers created a minimal layout with a tagline that said: “1842. It was a very good year for beer drinkers.”

So, what’s wrong with the tagline? Nothing other than the fact 1842 was a year when many black people were enslaved in the United States, and the ad went horribly wrong with African American audience.

Getting context right is crucial because the opposite might destroy your brand’s image on social media – and beyond.

Having a Conversation With the Audience

Back in the ’50, advertising executive Shirley Polykoff managed to convince women in the US to color their hair. All she did was post a question “Does she… or doesn’t she?” across hair dye commercials – and she managed to reassure women that hair coloring could look natural.

You can use this tactic on social media to get outstanding results. Ask your audience essential questions, make them want to engage and have a conversation with you and your brand. People want to feel their opinion matters, and they want to feel appreciated. Always take the time to answer comments and questions. As Shirley said, “Copy is a direct conversation with the consumer.”

Old school marketing strategies are of great value in today’s advertising world. What worked 50 years ago will still work today because the nature of humans doesn’t change at its core. Use these tactics to reach to the right audience, at the right time, and in the right way.