Contemporary campaigns hark back to the old days

When did the humble letter go from obsolete to a symbol of quality and romanticism? These days, an item of mail left on a desk stands out and requires more attention than yet another marketing email.

We recently participated in a couple of CMO networking events, and one of the key trends to emerge was that campaigns are blending contemporary and traditional techniques. Whether it’s a return to print publishing (as demonstrated by Facebook’s decision to launch a magazine in 2018), a preference for events where people can talk face to face, or the use of physical, handwritten letters, there’s no doubt that marketers are harking back to times gone by.

Of course, that’s not to say that digital methods are being side-lined. Where would we be without SEO, social media, emails and online ads? It’s just that marketers see the value of supplementing these digital channels with more retro techniques.


Snail mail
Perhaps the most surprising medium to return to favour in recent years, snail mail has crawled its way back into marketers’ tool boxes. Last year’s B2B Marketing Awards was won by international law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner’s ‘We can’t tell fortunes, but we can protect them’ campaign, which sent fortune-telling tea and fortune cookies to high-net-worth individuals in Asia.

We recently used Valentine’s Cards as part of our wildly successful Tudder campaign with Hectare Agritech. The cards introduced journalists to the Tudder app or ‘Tinder for cows’. The campaign used traditional, as well as modern, methods to grab attention in a fun, original and personalised way that befitted the wider campaign.

According to Neil Patel, direct mail, despite its fall in popularity, has a high open rate compared with email. And, while email and PPC marketing has a response rate that averages just 0.6%, direct mail response rates average 5.3%. Ultimately, the cost of direct mail is relatively high, but ROI is reportedly 10 to 30 times higher than digital efforts.

Print titles
Prior to Facebook, LinkedIn launched its own print magazine in 2017, and digital-first companies such as Airbnb, ASOS and Net-a-Porter also have their own titles. While independent publications close down, businesses are adopting this traditional style of communication, perhaps in an attempt to portray knowledge, trustworthiness, or even, paradoxically, objectivity. Far from the brochures or catalogues of old, these new branded publications imitate the sleek designs and high-quality editorial standards of the independent titles.

Events never really went away. But they remain an important tool for marketers, and especially B2B marketers. They’re traditional in the sense that they rely on face-to-face meetings and use of physical, as opposed to online, space. And when it comes to explaining a piece of tech kit, there is nothing more effective than face-to-face conversation.

In fact, we found that more than half of the 600 tech buyers we surveyed for our Tech Heads 2018 report used IT events to learn about new B2B tech suppliers or products. When looking at IT professionals only, 71% relied on IT events.


Ultimately, whether traditional marketing tools could bring originality and creativity to your campaign comes down to your objectives. As ever, nailing down a solid strategy right from the start and then picking the most appropriate channels for your goals is the best way forward. However, it pays not to discount offline and even old-fashioned techniques. By taking a step back in time, you have the opportunity to command attention for all the right reasons.