Old School Still Rules: Why Some Marketing and PR Tactics Will Never Change

Recently, Ad4! Group has been reflecting on our 20 first years managing all things marketing, public relations, and web development for hundreds of clients. One thing we’ve realized is that although every year has brought advances in tools, technology, trends, and tastes, there are some aspects and approaches in our field that haven’t really changed — and probably never will. Here are a few basic principles and best practices that our Ad4! team believes we will still be integrating into our work over our next 20 years.

You have to understand your audience

Remember the days before social media … or even before the internet? We know; it’s hard to imagine a time without Google and endless scrolling, but it did exist, and companies still needed marketing and public relations strategies. And one of the first questions any agency — including Ad4! Group — would ask those clients was, “Who is your target audience?”

Whether you’re creating blogs and TikTok videos or text for a newspaper ad or billboard, your efforts will fail if they don’t reach and grab the attention of the folks who might need or want your product or service. You have to know a lot about those individuals, including:

  • Who they are: Life stage, economic status, education level, family status, etc.;
  • Where to find them (so you know where to place your message);
  • How they like to communicate (so they will understand your message); and
  • What they want or need to hear (so the message is well-received).

Today’s technology allows us to create personas of your ideal audience down to highly-individualized levels and reach them individually at a hyper-local level. However, while the methods may have evolved, the concept behind them — knowing your audience — has remained the same.

Conventional media can be an influential partner

There’s no doubt that the way we get our news is drastically different than it was when Ad4! Group first hung out our shingle 20 years ago. Just check out this graphic from Pew Research, circa June 2004:

Just two short decades ago, most people relied on sources like television, radio, and print publications for their daily news, with a good portion also consulting email via the internet.

Today, people are still receiving their news through television, radio, and print publications, with a good portion also going online … they’re just using their mobile devices instead of a clunky desktop for that access. When people need to find out what’s going on in their own backyards, they turn to these traditional, trustworthy sources for details.

Since 2004, Ad4! Group founder Felica Sparks has cultivated close and long-lasting relationships with influential folks in all aspects of media — from the local television networks to newspapers and radio outlets. These professional affiliations are crucial when it comes to finding the perfect mix of advertising and promotional options. Whether you need to publish a press release, hold a press conference, schedule an interview, or just place ads on a weather app, it helps to know people (and Felica knows a LOT of people!).

Not everything has to be digital

While our Ad4! team will be the first to admit that digital technology has provided incredible opportunities for marketing and public relations over the last two decades, there’s still something to be said for the OG techniques — especially things that exist in the physical realm. Sometimes the best solution is a great combination of both tangible and digital assets.

Let’s say you’re opening a new restaurant in your hometown. Of course, you’ll create a website, social media pages, and a listing on Yelp, and maybe you’ll even tap into your local Chamber of Commerce email list. But you’ll also want eye-catching signage — grand opening banners, street-side feather flags advertising your daily specials, and maybe even a billboard on a nearby thoroughfare. You’ll need to consider window clings, lobby posters, and even ads for your bathroom stalls. And to get the word out to your target audience, you might also print flyers and business cards to hand out when you visit local businesses and saturate your neighborhood with direct mail. All those tactics — in addition to the digital approaches — will help you become a household name and a daily dinner destination.

There are plenty of other practices and principles that are still just as effective today as they were back when Ad4! Group was born. And after 20 years, we’ve gained experience and expertise in a wide variety of those approaches as well as all today’s technology brings to the table. Let us help you create personalized marketing, advertising, and web strategies for your particular needs.