9 Tips for Marketing Innovation in an Old School, Traditional Industry –

Barbie Espinol
Thinking Cloud? Think Again
Thinking Cloud? Think Again

Traditional industries often struggle with marketing innovation. Banks, law firms, manufacturers, and others are quick to rely on what works, thinking “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

But these industries are often dry, and need something extra in their marketing strategies. They’re not as sexy and creative as fashion, art, food, or travel, though they can be with the right ideas.

We’re in an amazing time for marketing innovation. Disruptive technologies like mobile-delivered coupons based on television commercials, movie trailers that adapt in real-time depending on the viewer, and augmented reality are just a few of the newest opportunities marketing offers. And there’s no better industry to leverage the newest and hottest trend than an old-school industry.

1. Leverage Facial Recognition

Facial recognition holds a lot of power for marketing, especially in traditional industries. Virtually any company can use this technology to promote its products and give away free stuff, which every customer enjoys.

Companies like Unilever used this technology to create viral challenges in exchange for free products, such as ice cream. You’ll recall that Unilever offers personal care brands, but it also makes ice cream. With a vending machine and the “Share Happy” campaign, the company leveraged racial recognition to award people with ice cream bars for smiling. The campaign went viral on social media, organically.

Facial recognition can also be used for digital displays and signage to detect demographic information like age bracket and gender, serving more targeted audiences. These messages are contextualized and tailored to the audience, increasing engagement.

2. Hyper-Targeted Ads

Targeting ads is nothing new, but ads are getting more specific with the help of technology innovation. Every person leaves a digital footprint online (where most people are shopping) that can be tracked by data mining. Marketers have incredible volumes of data at their disposal, so there’s no excuse for generic advertising.

Consumers can be targeted based on hyper-segmentation, delivering ads to the people most likely to engage with them. For example, you can send ads at the right time to customers that are nearby your bank or retail store, or within your defined audience segment, or both, to let them know about a flash sale. 

3. Create Immersive Augmented Reality Experiences

Augmented reality is a huge game-changer in marketing, especially with the effects of the pandemic and more people shopping virtually. This technology can help shoppers put products and services into context, such as trying on a watch or glasses virtually, even going as far as allowing them to play with the features.

AR can also be used via apps to help customers better, such as offering a GPS overlay with icons to show nearby coupons, store locations, and more.

4. Adopt Virtual Currency and Incentivized Ads

Virtual goods are growing in value. Many app games feature incentivized ads that offer credits or in-game goods in exchange for watching ads or engaging with sponsored content. Virtual currency also offers value in exchange for surveys and feedback.

Building referrals is an important part of growth, especially for traditional industries. Virtual currency or discounts can be offered to customers for promoting products they like with friends and family. When customers share a link to a sale, for example, and friends click the link, the customers get a credit.

5. Maximize QR Codes

Quick Response (QR) codes are pixelated squares that are similar to a barcode. Many products have them, restaurants use them for virtual menus, and they’re used for security verification on apps and accounts. Televisions also display them. All the audience needs is a smartphone with a camera and a QR reader app to scan the code, which opens a web page, shows text, and more.

Brands can use QR codes to link to a locator app and find nearby stores or retail locations, access content, or find product information. They’re also empowering businesses to do spot targeting within a geographic location, which has plenty of value for location-based marketing.

6. Use IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a multifaceted marketing innovation that can be used for a variety of creative campaigns. These devices are connected on a network and gather data from customers, providing drilled-down data to provide contextualized experiences.

Like hyper-targeting, IoT empowered marketers to analyze customer buying experiences and get incredible insights into the customer journey as they interact with smart devices. IoT can also pair with other technologies on this list, including QR codes and AR experiences.

One exceptional example of IoT in marketing for traditional industries is smart product labels. A simple QR label on a product can direct users to related products, trivia, discounts, or how-to guides. This is especially valuable for tech companies with complex products.

For example, a customer may order a printed circuit board prototype with a QR code on the box, which directs to a page about bare board design or a discount on future purchases.

7. Be Present on Social Media

Social media is here to stay, though many traditional companies are hesitant to start and maintain a presence on the most popular platforms, especially on the newer channels like TikTok.

There’s no way around it – consumers expect brands to be online, whether it’s their favorite clothing label or their local bank. They want to get to know the brand’s culture and story through social media content and interact in the virtual space, no matter how “dry” the industry may seem.

And even if brands aren’t online directly, customers make sure they are. Customers will leave a review about their experience and discuss a brand on their social media accounts. Because of this, brands need to take control of the conversation and manage their online reputations.

If you’re not on social media, now’s the time to start. If you are, come up with a strategy to promote your brand and content on the channels that have the biggest portion of your audience. Depending on your industry, that could be Facebook or TikTok or YouTube.

Even a dry brand can gain leverage with content on social media. For example, a video about the basics of a printed circuit board could capture users’ attention, leading them to read more in-depth posts about the topic and eventually making a purchase.

It takes time to build a following on social media, but it’s worth the effort and patience. Several tools are available to improve marketing efforts and plan content marketing effectively, such as content scheduling, campaign management, and calendar management.

8. Provide an Omnichannel Experience

Traditional industries need not only marketing innovation, but innovative thinking, to succeed. Some of the most creative campaigns have come from traditional companies, such as Esurance, Trident gum, and Tipp-Ex correction fluid.

Along with that, companies like Progressive Insurance put themselves in the minds of the customers to improve the experience. Instead of sticking with what worked, Progressive revolutionized the industry by adopting direct channels, a website, and online quotes. At the time, these ideas were as new and disruptive as AR and IoT.

Ultimately, this changed the way people shopped for insurance and focused on the entire process, all the customer touchpoints. Omnichannel marketing does the same by integrating all customer channels to create a unified, positive brand experience, whether customers are shopping in-store, at an event, on the website, or on social media. Customers can start in one place, like a social media page, and finish on the website.

Omnichannel experiences are making waves everywhere, from healthcare to finance to legal. Many brands, no matter the industry, understand the value of putting the customer first and providing a consistent, personalized experience across all channels.

9. Create a Marketing Mix

One of the challenges of old-school industries is marketing to a wide audience. Finance and healthcare companies, for example, often have audiences across different age groups, genders, locations, and income brackets. It’s not enough to stick with just traditional advertising or just digital advertising – modern companies need both.

Old-school methods, such as radio ads, television commercials, and direct mail are still valuable to companies and target a specific audience. Likewise, social media, online content, and high-tech marketing innovation like AR and QR codes have value for younger, tech-savvy generations.

The best way to reach both is with a mix of traditional and digital marketing that uses available technology in creative, contextualized ways. Depending on the audience, a touch of everything from direct mail flyers to word-of-mouth referral programs to social media shopping can be effective.

Harness the Power of Innovation in Your Old-School Industry

Traditional industries are what make the world go round. They’ve survived numerous revolutions and disruptions without faltering, but for some, refusing to grow with the times can leave them at a disadvantage in an increasingly competitive market.

Not all marketing innovations are ideal for every traditional business or industry, but including more innovative ideas into the marketing mix can keep old-school companies in the spotlight for growth and profitability.

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