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Monday, April 22, 2024

Tips for Marketing Innovation in an Old School, Traditional Industry

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Old School, Traditional industries are prime for disruption. Think Netflix with entertainment rentals, Uber and Lyft with conventional taxi services, and Airbnb with established hotel chains. These industries are usually conservative, asset-heavy, and most importantly, slow to adopt. They’re just waiting for the next big shakeup.

For decades, businesses relied on the tried-and-true methods of marketing—word-of-mouth, print, broadcast, direct mail, and outdoor. While these “old school” methods still have merit, industries that rely solely on them are missing a world of opportunity with digital marketing.

Here are some tips for marketing innovation in an old-school, traditional industry.

Shift to a Customer-Focused Approach

Most businesses think they focus on the customer. After all, the customer is always right. A customer-focused approach isn’t just about customer service, however.

Adopting a customer-centric strategy is about creating a seamless, deeply personalized experience for the customer across all touchpoints, whether it’s a brick-and-mortar business or eCommerce. Even a business in a traditional industry amasses incredible data about its customers, providing all the necessary information to tailor the customer experience.

For instance, at Gerber Labs new customers ordering PCBs and would always ask similar questions regarding printed circuit boards (PCB). Based on these customer questions we decided to develop in-depth blog articles addressing these topics. 

As a result we developed content answering our customer’s top questions like how to buy a circuit board, what are printed circuit boards, explaining PCB to beginners, differences between 2-layer and 4-layer PCB, and how to estimate PCB cost. Our customer centric approach was to provide all the necessary information to educate our potential customer and gain trust. 

Of course, customer experience looks different in different industries. It’s all about bringing the successes of the brick-and-mortar world into the digital world. Plenty of tools are available to create a seamless experience and consistent brand interactions, such as customer relationship management technology, self-service with chatbots and automation, voice commands, and SMS messaging.

Implement the Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT is the interconnectivity of digital devices, such as a “smart” thermostat, refrigerator, or medical monitoring watch.

In the world of new and flashy innovations, IoT is one of the most profound disrupters of the marketing world. IoT is a vital tool for helping businesses send the right message to the right customer—at the exact moment they need it on the right device.

IoT also collects data from customers to provide valuable insights into customer behavior and personalization. Marketers have the information they need to deliver highly targeted ads and recommendations to their audience, providing an intimate and unique experience for virtually every customer. IoT can also analyze customer buying tendencies, discover insights into where a customer is in the buying journey, and resolve customer concerns.

Leverage Local SEO

Location marketing is a part of the digital customer journey that brings a customer from an online search to offline interaction with a brand. Most people have used a “near me search” with a desktop or mobile device to find what they need, whether it’s a restaurant, grocery store, or doctor.

When you perform this search, Google ranks the top results according to proximity. While the reviews and hours factor into the decision, most people are going to choose from the closest locations.

Optimized location search is simple. Businesses can improve local SEO by ensuring the hours of operation, address, location name, phone number, and website are all current and accurate. The Google My Business profile should also be optimized to include the most current location information and promotions.

Businesses can leverage their location even further by optimizing profiles on other common platforms like Foursquare and Yelp. Customers not only search for local businesses on these platforms, but the higher the entry quality on these platforms, the better the local SEO.

Automated marketing tools are available for location marketing as well. Using a central hub with all the relevant information, a location marketing tool can communicate with all the relevant platforms to keep the data consistent and current. This tool can also help with reputation management by sending notifications about posted reviews, so businesses can respond swiftly.

Mix Digital with Traditional

Despite many consumers searching for businesses online, plenty of people still enjoy an in-person experience. Brick-and-mortar businesses rely on traditional marketing because they believe that digital marketing doesn’t apply to local customers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Consumers are savvier than ever. Before setting foot in a physical location, most consumers will research a business to see its online presence and gain information about its brand image. This not only applies to retail shops, but community banks, independently owned hotels, and local restaurants. Customers will write reviews and share their experiences on social media, whether the brand is present or not.

Because so much of the market is online, it’s vital for traditional industries to merge the digital with the conventional. Word-of-mouth advertising is similar in a digital environment, but it’s on a much larger scale. Along with print and television ads, businesses can include social media or digital ads to reach a wider audience and attract people to the website.

Embrace Social Media Marketing

Social media is one of the biggest untapped opportunities for traditional industries, especially with brick-and-mortar locations. Many old-school businesses forgo social media marketing and focus efforts locally. In doing so, they miss a potentially massive market.

Getting started with social media can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be done all at once. Instead of focusing on all social media platforms, choose the ones with the largest target audience. Like Google My Business, make sure all the information is accurate and current.

Building a social media presence takes dedicated commitment and effort over time. You can promote your pages with on-premise brochures or flyers and ask staff and customers to follow you. The following will grow with consistent, valuable posts.

Photos and videos are excellent promotional tools for social media. Product sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes videos, and employee highlights attract attention and promote brand trust and transparency. Giveaways and promotions also increase engagement, especially if the contests include prompts like “follow this page, share this post, and tag a friend to enter.”

Social media is another area that benefits from marketing automation. Several automation and analytics tools are available and offer features like content scheduling, calendar management, and ad campaign management to streamline the process.

Traditional Industry Gets an Upgrade

Traditional industries often include businesses that are the pillars of the community and rely on the same methods that worked for decades. Marketing innovation is disrupting industries of all types, however, and traditional industries can’t afford to get left behind.


Author Bio: Justin Ou is one of four Co-founders and Marketing Manager of Gerber Labs, an Orange County based engineering startup that is currently rolling out a platform that makes custom printed circuit boards (PCB’s) accessible to electrical engineering students, hobbyists and small businesses.


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