Marketing Strategies: Popular vs. Effective

Written by Howie Fenton,
Senior Technology Consultant, NAPL
Let’s do an exercise. Let’s say you were asked where you invested your marketing dollars and which of those investments were most effective. Do you think there’d be a relationship between investments and success? Do you think those two lists would overlap? What if they didn’t?
Well, we just recently did exactly that. In the 2013/2014 NAQP Sales and Marketing study, we asked which marketing strategies were used the most and which marketing strategies were most effective.
When companies were asked: “Select all the marketing areas you invested in this year or plan to invest in next year, and rank the top-five,” the responses were:
42% – Direct Mail
39% – Website
36% – Brochures/Sales Literature
25% – Membership in Business Organizations
22% – E-mail Marketing
15% – Social Media
14% – Search Engine Optimization
However, when asked to rank effectiveness of each the following, these were the top answers:
79% – Shop Tours
72% – Brochures/Sales Literature
72% – Websites
68% – Telemarketing
68% – Membership in Business Organizations
68% – Direct Mail
If you compare these two lists, a lot of interesting conversations can result. For example, why are shop tours listed as most effective, but not an investment priority?  I would guess that you could argue that offering a shop tour does not require much of an investment, but others might argue that updating your equipment and training your staff does require investment.
In the current environment of websites and social media, some might say the idea of shop tours has fallen out of favor. You certainly can say it’s an “old-school” marketing tool.  But it’s hard to argue with the fact that people say it’s the most effective marketing strategy they use.
And I think it’s important to recognize that not all shop tours are the same. As someone who goes on shop tours several times a month, I can tell you there is a big difference between an unrehearsed shop tour given by someone who doesn’t really understand the benefits and value of the equipment, staff, and procedures…compared with a shop tour given by someone who does understand. I can see the value of a great shop tour from a mile away but only see them in about one in ten companies.
Another interesting conversation focuses on where these two lists overlap and where they don’t. For example, direct mail, websites, membership in business organizations, and brochures/sales literature are on both lists. However, some tactics including e-mail marketing, social media marketing or search engine optimization does not appear as effective. Digging deeper, we might ask why.  Is it because they are less effective? Is it because the companies don’t understand how to utilize the technology? Or some combination of both?
I don’t know the answer. Why do you think e-mail marketing, social media marketing or search engine optimization are investments but not more effective?

Howie Fenton is a consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on benchmarking performance against industry leaders, increasing productivity, and adding digital and value services through customer research. For more information click here.

Related Posts


  1. Lawerence November 5, 2013 -

    Excellent post. I am experiencing some of these issues as well..

  2. vkellie November 5, 2013 -

    Regarding the effectiveness of e-mail, social and SEO marketing, would be interested to know what tools printers are using to measure that effectiveness — is this visceral or metrically measured? A factor which may be affecting the overall effectiveness of print marketing is that a cohesive brand message of “why print” seems to be lacking in the industry — one that permeates messaging from associations, print shops, the industry as a whole. “Got Milk” was one such effective strategy.

  3. Howie Fenton November 11, 2013 -

    Here is a article i just discovered that talks about measuring the effectiveness of Social Media. Its called the 48 Social Media KPIs and is available here:

  4. Excellent Article! Nowadays most people uses social media’s for marketing their products. Because to all other strategy it is more easy to reach the products world wide.

  5. Cathrene Duremdez December 3, 2013 -

    As we are currently on the marketing process of our startup, I can say that email marketing is not that effective in reaching out target audience/users and it is very tiring to do. Some recipient might think that your message is spam because they did not give you permission to send a promotional or advertisement emails to them.

    Just wanted to share my experience with marketing.

    Thanks for this article. We might try some of the marketing strategies cited here that can be applied to our startup.

  6. Bill Michael December 4, 2013 -

    Thanks for sharing your insight, Cathrene! While each marketing strategy has its own purpose, I wholeheartedly agree with you on the experience you shared with email marketing.

    In fact, Target Marketing just recently published an article on this very topic, citing that “email is not replacing direct mail any more that texting has replaced normal phone conversations.” They each have unique advantages and purposes. The full article is worth a read, check it out here:

  7. Ellen January 21, 2014 -

    Thanks for sharing this post! This can be a great tool for businesses that are looking to revamp their marketing strategy.

  8. Benjamin February 24, 2015 -

    This is a great article, thanks for posting this! We have been spending a majority of our marketing dollars on Facebook PPC ads and Google Adwords and have been seeing some success with this strategy.

    Professional Document Solutions

Comments are closed.