Marketing Tradition in 5 Easy Steps

Last Sunday was Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a special ceremony that welcomes back New York Yankee players and managers from years past and gives fans of the team a chance to show their respect for some of the greatest names that baseball has ever seen (I won’t ever apologize for my Yankee pride). This post isn’t about the Yankees, but it is inspired by them. Because the Yankees, more than any other organization that I can think of, market themselves on tradition.

Some organizations in some industries build their brand around tradition. Tradition means something to people. It means loyalty, consistency, longevity, and stability. It feels like respect, and it lets customers know what to expect.

If part of your message is about tradition, here are 5 things you need to know to help your marketing.

1. What is tradition?

Tradition is all about taking something that works, and sticking with it. Tradition works for financial institutions, education, organization with older customers, and organizations who’ve been around a long time. Tradition is not easy, it takes effort to build and hold on to. It’s built from the ground up, with all employees learning what it means to be a part of the team, and what the customer expects with each interaction.

Not all traditions are the same, obviously. So it’s important to define your company’s traditions for yourself before getting started. The New York Yankees market a “tradition of baseball excellence”.

2. What has it meant to your company?

For a message of tradition to work, everyone in the organization has to believe in it. Almost like a secret society, the hiring and training process needs to involve heavy emphasis on what it means to be a part of this team. Zappos is well known for instilling great customer service skills in every new team member.

When your employees believe in the tradition, it takes on a life of its own. And in every interaction with a customer, that tradition will come out.

3. What does it mean to your customers or clients?

When marketing tradition, it has to be for a reason. If you believe that the tradition that your company values gives you an advantage over the competition, you have to explain why. What value have you provided to customers past and present as a result of that tradition? That’s what a new customer wants to know before they take any action, and it’s what you advertising and promotional material should communicate. It could mean better service, higher quality, the notion that you’re safer or more secure.

4. How can you convey that message best?

Tradition is about consistency. Because of that, the marketing of that tradition should be consistent. Throughout all facets of your marketing campaign, you need to be thinking of the underlying theme of tradition. Television will allow you to speak genuinely, showcase leaders or employees demonstrating what tradition means to you. Print ads should be familiar and formulaic. Your website should be detailed, containing messages from people at the top of your organization, maybe a quote from the founder, and testimonials from customers who attest to what that tradition has meant to them.

Tradition also needs to be truthful. It’s hard to fill the gaps if you get caught in a lie. Because tradition is more personal than a lot of other points of differentiation between companies, it will be even worse for you if your company does not deliver on the value that you promote. So consistency in customer experiences is almost as important as consistency in marketing.

5. Who cares?

There will always be people that your marketing just does not speak to, whether you’re marketing tradition or not. So you need to make a decision. Either those people are outside your target audience and you are okay if you lose out on their business, or you work some other things into your marketing specifically to attract those customers. Personally, I think it’s okay to admit that your market is not infinite. And consistency here is key, so creating alternative marketing messages might hurt you in the long run. But I leave that decision up to you.

What did I miss? Share your thoughts on marketing tradition in the comments below.