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Traditional Marketing: How to Measure Marketing

traditional marketing measure

Everyone these days is so focused on digital marketing. Ranking first on Google. Having social media presence. Developing an email list. These are all great channels and benefit from having low fixed costs and easy to monitor performance analytics. However, the majority of business is still conducted offline. We’ll call it traditional marketing.

Restaurants. Professionals (doctors, lawyers, insurance agents, financial advisors). Consumer goods companies. Tourism and hospitality. Retail. Financial services. Manufacturing. Agriculture. They all use traditional marketing methods equally or more than digital. All of these businesses will likely have a physical presence and often that will be brick and mortar. Likewise, most customers will find these businesses by actively seeking them out in their local area, walking/driving by, or getting referrals from people they know. The point is simple… despite the exciting new technologies and benefits to digital marketing, there’s still a massive need for physical marketing. Print, local radio and tv, signage, and internal marketing documents are still valuable portions of their traditional marketing needs.

We’re writing this article for a dual purpose. First, we have a Print Marketing Learning Path and this is an educational article. For marketers, businesses, and people in the professional world, these are all valuable considerations. And if you are not one of these people, this article fits well into Reverse Tide’s theme of thinking differently and creatively.

So the question is… how else can businesses deploy their marketing resources? And then equally as important, how can they measure marketing’s effectiveness (including the traditional marketing sources)? Let’s explore a variety of ideas…


Yes, there are still plenty of people that live in an offline world and use coupons to save money! Companies will distribute their coupons via many means… newspapers, mail, in store booklets, online printables, as part of packaging, and more. People love good offers and love to feel like they’re getting a good deal. Every study overwhelmingly points to the psychological factors in such promotions helping sales.

Measuring coupons is probably the easiest thing there is. Within the coupon text, bar code, or QR code you make a unique identifier. That way when it’s used (scanned), the software applying that coupon will track and count the unique identifier. So let’s use an easy example. You put a coupon in 5 different newspapers. When scanned from newspaper 1, it has the unique identifier NYT1 and is tracked by your software. Then you have a separate identifier for each of the other 4 newspapers. And maybe more for each date you advertise so you can track performance by weekday or other such factors. Now you can add up usage relative to how many were printed and determine what the response rate is. You know which products are more susceptible to coupon use. And you can easily compute the ROI of each.

Newspaper/Magazine Ads

Yes, people do still read the newspaper and other print publications. Advertising still has a solid ROI if done correctly and it’s also a way to develop a relationship with them for their website as well (different newspaper advertisementaudiences from each). The benefit of advertising here is that it’s targeted by topic. If you’re a sporting goods company, advertise in the sports section or in a sporting magazine. If you’re a financial product, go to the business page or a specialized financial journal/magazine.

Then as you’re thinking about measurement, you want a way to identify how customers are converted. If customers have to buy the product using a phone number, perhaps use a separate phone number for each publication you advertise in. If they’re going to a website, give them a special coupon code to enter upon purchase or a special URL that redirects them but tracks their activity. As mentioned with coupons, you can utilize unique QR codes. There are tons of possibilities and thus no excuse not to measure performance.

Radio/TV Commercials 

This remains the biggest source of spending in the advertising world. It can certainly pay off and should when you have that gigantic budget dedicated to this channel. So you absolutely have to track its success rate.

You can use all the different methods we’ve talked about so far. Send people to your website through the ad… and make it easy for the customer to remember and for you to track. If we were advertising Reverse Tide for example, we would tell people to go to reversetide.tv for a special offer… and then have that offer waiting at this domain. Another way is to have a special offer available for this ad. So you might call the product by a different name or have different pricing. You might even make certain products exclusive to that channel in a testing phase. You can always rely on ratings and audience size as well. There is no shortage of analytical opportunities.


This traditional marketing method is pretty tough to measure. How do you know if customers are responding favorably to your logo or colors? Are such things actually having an effect on business? This is where a focus group can help. Chances are, your branding is less relevant if your product quality is great. However, it can have an impact. So poll your customers. Outsource this to a local marketing agency. Survey a few random people. Focus groups work really well to provide real analytical measurements to topics that can’t otherwise be tracked.

Direct Mail 

This was a huge traditional marketing method and while people think this has gone out of style, there’s a lot of opportunity still here. In fact, if less people direct mail marketinguse this channel and less people are receiving mail in general (they get invitations, bills, etc by email now), you have less competition. And perhaps your competitors opt out of this channel because they think direct mail is dead. It’s your opportunity now!

This is probably the easiest one to track. Marketers will label each campaign by a special code. There are so many ways to define a code but let’s say it’s “the postcard we sent the first week of November to the state of Arizona”. Then in the content of any marketing material there will likely be a call to action. Call a number, go to a certain store, go to this website… and of course the marketer can then use all the tricks we’ve mentioned.

Marketing Brochures 

Ok, this one is tricky. Say you’re looking at cars and decide to take a brochure with its features and pricing. Or maybe you’re at the dermatologist office getting a mole checked but see a brochure with information about skin beautification treatments. Or maybe you’re at a trade show and see a product that looks interesting. Businesses use brochures in their business to advertise and keep customers imarketing brochurenterested after the fact.

Perhaps the best way is to have someone count who is taking the brochures. In the example of the doctor’s office, you’re already tracking patient info and can notate this in their records (for eventual follow up). If it’s the car dealership, you can try to get the information but at a minimum, track how often the brochure is accepted. Nobody will take a physical document home unless it’s reasonably intriguing. So that can measure whether the brochure is effective or not (and makes for interesting tests as well).


There are many ways to advertise through signage. It can be the giant billboard marketingbillboards you see on highways. Maybe the ones you see on buses and train station benches. Maybe the ones at sporting arenas. How can you measure if this has any impact? You can try the unique offers and codes we mentioned before. You can try to correlate response to traffic patterns or response times. All in all, this is a more difficult one to assess. Which brings us to our last method…

Ask Your Customer!

This works for every one of these methods. When they visit your website or business location, ask them how they heard about you or who referred them. Maybe even give them some incentive, as the ROI of that offer might be pretty good. If you can ask every customer and get a reasonable response rate, you’ll have no trouble determining which methods are most effective. This is the most traditional marketing method of all and will never go out of style!

Finally, don’t confine thinking to response rate and ROI. You can use predictive analytics effectively as well. By using existing customer data or purchasing it from a third party, you can tightly narrow your mailing lists down (and increase ROI). If you’re not certain which brochure or sign gets the most attention, you can use A/B testing. Predictive analytics can be equally and sometimes more effective than analytics post-campaign (although why not do both)!


Hopefully this was helpful. All these traditional marketing methods are still equally and sometimes more effective compared to digital methods. And you can measure that first-hand for proof. If your competitors as a marketer or as a business have abandoned these traditional strategies, it’s your gain in finding customers preferring such channels. And for those that aren’t in the marketing/business, going against the crowd is very often a winner!


If you haven’t yet signed up for our Print Marketing Learning Path but are interested in this topic, take a look. Or alternatively, if you prefer Marketing Fundamentals or Digital Marketing, we offer this as well. Marketing is important in any profession and Reverse Tide is the leader in providing comprehensive and affordable learning curriculums, as well as excellent career resources. Check these out today!