Marketing: Then and Now

A snapshot of advertising changes over 10 years

Let’s drift back to the magical year of 2007. On average, American’s were spending about $3.40 a gallon for gas. Apple unveiled the very first iPhone. A little outfit called Tesla made the car show rounds, showing off the its Roadster; it went into production the following year. 2007 also saw the first issue of SpaRetailer hit mailboxes.

As we mark our first decade, we look at which marketing channels worked in 2007, which work today and which are poised to take SpaRetailer and the industry into the next decade.

In 2007, digital and social media were becoming popular marketing mediums, and the Great Recession was just around the corner. Then, as now, so many saw it as a cheap way to collect leads and attract customers. A preponderance of businesses went all in, only to have a harsh awakening as response rates plummeted. “I was aware of social media and SEO marketing back then, but it wasn’t a large component of our marketing strategy,” says Dennis Marunde of Arvidsons, which operates in the Chicago area. “In ’07, we were using traditional media such as Yellow Pages, newspaper, radio and direct mail.”

In his use of social media in 2017, Marunde says it’s all about connecting with customers via stories, not sales pitches. “Back then we viewed social media like everyone else,” he says. “We’d announce a sale or special and thought everyone would flock to us; did we get a wake-up call! It’s wrong to try and apply marketing techniques that work on traditional media with social media. We primarily use it to promote different events or community-oriented events.”

Marunde says Arvidsons has successfully used Facebook to promote a wellness event at its stores, which featured free professional neck and shoulder massages and organic fruit smoothies. Another event his team promotes via social media is its adopt-a-pet drive, where Arvidsons raises money for a local nonkill animal shelter. These types of posts capture social audience attention, and get likes and shares more so than news of a hot tub sale. “You have to test,” says Dennis. “The internet has made my company a better one.”

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Ken Leonard, owner of Carefree Spas serving the Indianapolis, Indiana, area, boils it down this way: “Then as now, no matter which media you use, the measure of success is sales,” Leonard says. “You must be able to see a profit and track the mediums used to advertise.” Ken has 30 years in the spa business and illustrates changes in marketing by pointing to the phone book. “Thirty years ago, the Yellow Pages was a big deal; it validated the fact you were in business to the world. Today, the ad you used to pay $700 for is highly negotiable. With some haggling, you can probably get the print and online ad on the Yellow Pages website for $90 a month. That’s worth it to me.”

Leonard’s current marketing toolbox is similar to 10 years ago, minus newsprint. “We use social media, email and television,” he says. “Television was good for us two years ago and it was difficult to be heard over political spots last year, so we backed off TV temporarily. We’re not really advocates of radio based on past experience. The Indianapolis Home Show is always a great performer for us for sales and customer leads.”

When Ken’s company gets an online lead, it quickly starts a dialogue with that person and invites them into one of its showrooms. “It’s an abbreviated educational process to find out what’s important to them.”

The marketing bottom line in 2017: Test new channels, media (on- and offline) carefully to see what works best for your business. You’ll make stronger connections and increase sales. Just remember, to sell to people, especially on social media, you must become more like them.