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Marketing trends that have stood the test of time

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When it comes to marketing trends, “digital” is the word on everyone’s lips. Screens are replacing paper for all manner of daily tasks – word processing instead of typewriters; email instead of paper invoices; e-readers instead of books. Digital marketing trends have changed the very nature of how brands create a loyal customer base – and they’ve had to, given just how impervious customers are becoming to brash marketing messages. Today’s customer is more knowledgeable and sceptical than fifty years ago. However, not all marketing trends of the past are extinct. Let’s take a look at some marketing trends that go way back – some being used for hundreds of years.

Branded stationery isn’t just useful: it’s one of the subtlest forms of endorsement. 

Businesses have been using branded stationery for hundreds of years. While the branded pencils and pens only made their debut in the mid twentieth century, business cards and letterheads first appeared at the start of the nineteenth century – and are still being used today. Branded stationery markets your brand externally and internally. Your brand logo, when paired with the colour and design of your stationery, paints a clear, tangible image of your business. As well as being useful, it creates an explicit and lasting impression of your brand. Within your company, branded stationery has a huge impact on your staff’s identification with your brand. After all, you want your employees to be brand ambassadors - not just workers.

Brand mascots become characters in their own right – that stay with you for life.

Advertising characters, or mascots, are such a prominent part of the marketing landscape that you might even take them for granted. But if you think back to your childhood, these mascots were the primary way in which you engaged with a brand: Ronald McDonald, Coco the monkey of Coco Pops and the Michelin Man. They’ve even worked their way into everyday conversation: “She’s like the Energizer bunny!” Back in the 1920s, Coca Cola started using Santa Claus in its Christmas advertising and it’s thanks to them that Santa started wearing red and white. Such is the power of these characters: they personify a business and are a way for an audience to form an attachment to a brand.

Sports sponsorship is a way to associate your brand with today’s heroes.

The modern hero (or heroine) no longer brandishes a sword and shield – they brandish rackets, rugby balls, bats and even vehicles. The sheer number of dedicated sports fans coming together to watch something at the same time is a marketing opportunity that brands have capitalised on heavily. It all started in the seventies with big brands sponsoring motor racing. Back then it was Marlboro and Camel adorning the racers’ jerseys and cars. Today, we have ABSA supporting our Boks, RBC behind Ernie Els’ and DHL backing the Stormers. This is one marketing trend that is unlikely to die out.

Everybody loves getting something for nothing – specials, discounts and free samples go back to time immemorial.

Consumers may be becoming ever more price conscious – especially after the recent recession – but when have people ever not been price conscious and looking to get as much for their buck as possible? It would be almost impossible to pinpoint the exact moment in time when discounts, special offers and free samples became a mainstay marketing trend, but it’s likely that the ancient bazaars of the Middle East would have offered free samples of food and money off for bulk buys to entice customers in. In the modern era, you can easily see the power of discounted items have on buyer behaviour, given that special offers take prime place on any website or in any brick and mortar store. 

Strategic partnerships are another marketing trend to leverage resources and extend marketing reach.

In strategic partnerships companies team up and pool resources, people and connections so that both parties benefit. This has been going on since the time when the world was made up of a collection of tribes, rather than the nations that exist now. The same idea can be applied to businesses that partner with others that offer products complementary to theirs. Seartec – suppliers of cutting edge office automation technology – and OfficeBox is an example close to home. The partnership between Apple and IBM is another example of how companies with different but complementary qualities can extend their marketing reach and amplify their assets. OfficeBox prides itself on its extensive stationery range. Get in touch today if you want to know how we can help you with stationery branding – at cost price.

Image credit:nanowrimo.org

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David Adams
04 August 2015
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