7 Ways To Tell Your Marketing Is Stuck In The 80’s

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I liked the ‘80s.

Not for the fluorescent socks or for those sexy leg warmers the girls used to get around in.

I loved the Karate Kid.  I wanted to be him.  Well, not Ralph Macchio, ‘cause he was kinda skinny and had a bad haircut.

I wanted to be a Karate champion and do the ‘crane’ –  you know, that move he did at the end of the movie to defeat his nemesis Johnny Lawrence.  You don’t remember? The move that could not be beaten!  It was awesome.

I even thought about taking up Karate.  But I didn’t ‘cause then I decided I wanted to be a fighter pilot after watching Top Gun.  Because they get all the girls, you see.

Ahh, the naïvety of youth.

But some things are better left in the ‘80s.  Sure, we had fun, but times have changed.  Marketing has changed, but I’ve come to realise some businesses are still stuck in the ‘80s.

Is your marketing stuck in the ‘80s? If you’re doing any of these 7 things, there is a fair chance it is.

1.    You just wrote a cheque in the thousands for your yearly yellow pages ad.

The yellow pages was the must-have advertising in the 80’s.  And it worked – back then.  Unfortunately, times have changed and so has the consumer.  There is so much more your business could do with the money you spend on yellow pages that will deliver far better results.

2.    You just had 1,000 promotional pens delivered with your business name on.

You know what we all didn’t have in the ‘80s? Laptops, smartphones and tablet devices like the iPad.  Sure, we still write things down, but not as much as we used to. Save your money on the pens, they might be good for your ego but they won’t bring in any business.

3.    You’ve just typed out your monthly newsletter on Word and emailed it as an attachment.

It’s great that you have a monthly newsletter, but typing it out on Word and emailing the attachment is a thing of the past. There are so many cost effective email marketing programs such as MailChimp and Aweber, amongst others. So, ditch the attachment and start using them.

4.    You still use the phrase “We need to get our name out there”.

I cringe when I hear business owners say this.  Why? Because they use it to justify bad marketing.  All too often, businesses will spend money, get no return and then justify it with “It’s helping get our name out there”.  As a small business, all your marketing should deliver are prospects to you.  Anything else is just fluff.

5.    You just came up with the tagline “Your (insert business category here) specialists”.

Taglines are used to promote the benefits of your product or service to the consumer.  Try to tell customers what they can expect from doing business with you and don’t be generic.

6.    You think your unique selling point is offering “free  quotes”.

Here’s the thing: everyone provides free quotes.  I do. So do my competitors.  I would never lead any advertising messages with it.   It does not make you unique.  It helps with conversion, but people want to know how you’ll solve their problems and won’t pick up the phone because you provide free quotes alone.

7.    You’ve bought an email list and intend to SPAM everyone on it.

In the ‘80s, not very many people had an email address.  It was new and exciting and people liked to receive emails.  We also didn’t have the SPAM laws we had today. Change your thinking to ‘building’ an email list as opposed to ‘buying’ an email list.  It will be much more effective and keep you on the right side of the law.

So it’s the 2010s now.  It’s time to trade in the Walkman for an iPod. Get rid of the Atari and upgrade to Xbox Kinect and get with the times.  Your business, your clients (and your kids) will love you for it.

About the author

Chris Dale Chris Dale is the founder and Managing Director of MarketingHQ. He is a Certified Practising Marketer with over 15 years senior marketing experience. He helps small and medium sized businesses create great marketing strategies and systems that grow their businesses. You can connect with him on or on LinkedIn.

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