Are These Marketing Tactics Really Outdated, Or Just Misused?

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Phone Scan QR Code

Marketing tactics are constantly evolving.

What works today, might not work tomorrow. The business landscape is always changing, as new platforms emerge, more competition arises, and new marketing strategies are implemented. Customers change too - their priorities, the devices they use, and their expectations for brand values are constantly adapting to new environments and opportunities.

Many formerly popular marketing tactics are now considered outdated in the face of new advancements; think traditional newsletters and brochures, snail mail, and even billboards and trade shows.

But, in some cases, these so-called “outdated” tactics have actually just been misused. Often, these strategies were not optimized for customers and their needs, or reduced the quality of the brand’s content and image due to poor implementation. If they are utilized in fresh new ways that address today’s customers, these tactics can be very successful.

Check out some examples below.

1. QR Codes

Remember those black and white barcode squares that businesses featured in advertisements? The ones that you could scan with your smartphone and the encoded address or action would be accessed automatically?

QR codes were a popular marketing tactic during the 2000s, but they were riddled with problems. They suffered from poor placement, with ads displayed in subway stations on the other side of the tracks, or flashed on TV commercials for only a few seconds of air time. In many cases, they also weren’t optimized for users, with codes leading to broken links, irrelevant landing pages, or generic corporate websites that weren’t targeted to the specific user. They also weren’t intuitive to use. Many users were deterred by the process of downloading a separate QR scanning app, and gave up before even trying.

Some marketers may consider QR codes to be outdated, but they have recently been implemented by several major businesses in new and improved ways. It started with “Snapcodes”: QR codes incorporated into the Snapchat user experience. You could scan them to add a new friend, unlock fun Face Lenses and World Lenses, or even create your own Snapcode to link your friends to any website of your choosing.

Another example is Spotify, which implemented QR codes to enable users and artists to share their music more easily with others. Other social mobile apps such as Venmo and Facebook Messenger have implemented QR codes as well, and Bird - the dockless electric scooter company taking over many US cities - requires a user to scan a QR code in order to start riding. 

It’s clear that QR codes are not dead; they just need to be used in the right way. If you plan on using them within your marketing strategy, make sure that they’re accessible, optimized for mobile, and that they serve to enhance your user’s experience. Draw in your customer with an implementation that makes their lives easier, and you’ll be rewarded too. 

2. SEO

The reputation of Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) has been tarnished over the years by “black hat” techniques, which ultimately hurt a brand’s Google rankings and image.

Whether it’s keyword stuffing, churning out constant or irrelevant content around keywords, or massive link building, not only do these tactics ultimately signal to search engines that you’re trying to trick their algorithms, but it also discourages your site visitors from reading and engaging with your content. All of these SEO tactics were popular at one point, but now leave consumers with a sour taste in their mouth.

While these bad tactics are outdated, good SEO can be very successful if implemented in the right ways. You can still develop content around keywords, but just choose a few and don’t overdo it. Instead of spitting out tons of content, focus on going more in-depth about what is relevant to your audience and put more promotion behind your posts. Create content that will give you valuable natural backlinks, rather than trying to take shortcuts and risk sacrificing your content quality and brand image. Look beyond the Google Keyword Planner and try doing keyword research on Reddit or Wikipedia, or by using tools like SeedKeywords.

By approaching SEO in the right way, this marketing tactic can work wonders for your business. 

3. Brand Taglines

A brand’s tagline (or slogan/motto) used to be the foundation of its image. Almost every major brand had one, and it was the primary method of choice for making a brand different, memorable, and adored.

Today, customer priorities have changed and their attention spans have gotten shorter. They are constantly bombarded with branding and information, and prefer short, digestible content. Additionally, most brands today are distinguished less by products and features, and more by their values and personality. In the face of all of these changes, the tagline is perceived among marketers as a tactic of the past.

Although the tagline itself may be outdated, the principle behind it remains very useful. Using succinct and direct messaging can still be a powerful way to connect with potential customers.

Try using a hashtag to define your brand instead of a tagline. Not only are hashtags optimized for mobile and today’s customer needs, they also will increase your likelihood of being found on social media. Nike successfully implemented this tactic by turning their tagline into a hashtag, “#JustDoIt”, which they include in all of their Instagram captions and tweets.

Now that marketing has become as much about values as it is about products, consider turning your tagline into a mission statement instead. TOMS implements this tactic with their short and memorable “One for One” mission statement, which promises to help a person in need every time one of their products is purchased.


By thinking outside the box and approaching these tactics from a different angle, you can find new and effective ways to connect with your target audience.


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