Traditional Media And Time-Tested Best Practices Still Play An Important Role In Today’s Marketing Plans

The phrase “old school” has been turning up everywhere lately, from movie titles to song lyrics to fashion headlines.  We’ve heard it used as a noun, a verb and an adjective.  But as it relates to media planning, while it seems that all the “cool” marketers are focusing on social and digital media, traditional media — print, broadcast, outdoor, direct mail, signage, public relations — still has an important role to play in terms of driving traffic and sales for your stores.  Said another way: “Old school” traditional media is still very cool, and the keys to successful media planning will never go out of style.

Over the last few years, business people and marketers have become enamored with social and digital media.  It is the bright shiny object everyone wants to possess and better understand; businesses are seeking the magic answer on the right way and the best way to effectively incorporate social media into marketing plans.  Let’s face it, the number of options can be overwhelming.

Back in the day — as us “old-schoolers” like to say — media planning was easy.  You worked with your marketing team and ad agency on developing your messaging, you purchased your print or broadcast media (or both) and you measured success based on reach, frequency and cash register rings.  Storytelling was basically one-dimensional, and brands were driving the dialog.

The Rules Have Changed

The Internet and social and digital media have changed the rules of engaging with consumers.  No more simply pushing out messages to influence consumer purchase decisions and where they will shop. It’s a new reality where consumers are consuming media on their terms, on a multitude of devices and many times making purchasing decisions on the fly in real time.

We have also evolved from one-way message delivery to a world where consumers seek to express themselves — through tweets, posts on Facebook or videos on YouTube, reviews on Yelp, or photos on Pinterest or Instagram. Brands no longer control the conversation so companies need to find thoughtful ways to actively participate in the conversations taking place each day.  The endgame is to increase the amount of trust and goodwill consumers feel for a brand and a business, which will translate into positive recommendations and financial transactions.

The relationship between consumers, brands and retailers is more robust than ever and retailers have the opportunity to generate awareness, consideration and interest for what they offer to consumers each and every day: convenience.  And that’s where traditional media continues to play an important role.  A healthy media mix that employs traditional as well as social and digital media can be a powerful way to grow business and create vocal brand advocates.  The key is to find the right media mix that that aligns to your marketing objectives, and fits your unique brand, company, customer and budget.

Surveys of retailers and evaluations of media purchasing trends by businesses show that traditional media continues to be the foundation of a successful media plan, with social and digital media growing, as businesses seek to complement their messaging strategies by using new media channels to effectively engage with customers — it is not an either/or proposition.

Never Out of Style

Make your media work harder for your brand and your business by reminding yourself of these tried and true, “old school” keys to success:

  1. Always begin with a clear communications strategy and goals.  Think of your media plan as an orchestra.  Every component of your media plan is like an instrument and your messages need to be in harmony, with a consistent tone, look and feel that defines your brand and your business. “What” you want to communicate should drive “how” and “where” you will communicate.
  2. Plan around your consumers and their behaviors.   Millennials operate, think and consume media differently than Boomers.  Moms dropping by your stores after school to pick up snacks for the kids think differently than the general contractor who stops by in the morning for coffee and to pick up waters and drinks for his crew. [For example, your billboard advertising or morning drive-time radio might promote your new value priced coffee offering and grab and go breakfast items which will appeal to those general contractors, while your outdoor signage at the gas pump might promote new frozen treats or beverages that will appeal to moms who are filling up before taking the kids to soccer practice]
  3. Broadly define your market  The consumer should be the focal point of media planning efforts but a number of other important constituents can positively influence your brand by supporting the key messages. 
    • Store employees are the face of your brand to your customers each and every day.  What are you doing to encourage your associates to be the best they can be and to empower them as ambassadors for your brand?
    • Stakeholders — not just your banker and your investors, but also friends, family members and colleagues.  Don’t forget to keep them informed around what’s going on with your business and any news you are communicating.  Seek their counsel and enlist their support to “get the word out.”
    • Local media: In addition to having a positive relationship with the companies you purchase media from — the local newspaper or radio station — seek to proactively establish a relationship with local news media that cover local businesses .  Investing even a small amount of resources and energy in nurturing these content-driven relationships can pay huge dividends for your business.
    • Community: Everything you do as a local business resonates in your community.  Find ways to show public support for local charities, key initiatives, as well as working with your local rotary club or similar organizations made up of businesspeople like you.
  1. Turn brand lovers into brand ambassadors. Taking care of your best customers never goes out of style.  Are they being greeted by name when they enter your stores?  Are they made to feel welcome?  Your most frequent customers are obvious fans and can also spread positive messages about your business.  Studies have shown a correlation between an increase in positive word of mouth recommendations and sales growth for businesses.  What are you doing to engage your brand lovers and transform them into vocal advocates for your business?
  2. Measure what’s working and what’s not.  There has been an exponential increase in the ability to measure the effectiveness of your media, thanks to the increased presence and usage of social and digital platforms.  Look for ways to optimize your spend on what’s moving the needle based on the goals you established up front for your campaign.

Old school is definitely still cool. And something else that will never go out of style? A well-developed marketing and media plan that drives traffic and sales to your stores, creates loyal customers, and establishes a unique personality for your brand and business.


Published in the December 2013 edition of NACS Magazine.  The National Association of Convenience Stores is an international trade association representing more than 2,200 retail and 1,600 supplier company members.

Ira L. Gleser is president of Atlanta-based Amplify Marketing Communications (, a firm dedicated to helping brands and organizations connect more effectively with clients, customers, prospects and stakeholders by “amplifying” their value proposition and key brand messages. He can be reached at