I answered my front door at the weekend to find a pair of red socks lying brightly on the doormat.

The neat little white and grey package with minimal black print and estate agent Strutt and Parker’s red logo said this: “It’s not every day a property agent gives something away. But then it’s not all agents who work their socks off on behalf of their clients. To discover how hard working we really are or to find your local office, visit www.struttandparker.com”.

Now it must be said, they are very large red socks, clearly meant for a man (are they assuming it’s the man of the house who is responsible for selling the family home? That’s a point to explore in another blog).

But I was impressed, let me tell you. What struck me was the “getting local” approach. Going to where the customer is, literally, right to their front door. Strutt and Parker has 42 branches across the UK, nearest to me is in Glasgow some 18.4 miles away. But someone came to my house, rather than emailing me or posting me a direct mailer or telephoning me.

It reminded me of a recent blog by Tom McCallum, an ex-pat Scot now living and working in the Cayman Islands (clearly no need for warm socks there, lucky so-and-so). The link to his blog is here – http://mccallumsolutions.com/2010-the-year-of-the-customer – but to summarise briefly, Tom believes the essence of Marketing 2.0 … don’t make the customer come to you, go to them.

Clearly in a time where digital, social, new media is focused on Tweeting and Facebooking and Linking In, profile raising with clever viral campaigns and must-have iPhone apps, it was truly refreshing to see a long-established business using traditional methods to great effect.

And it proved another concept that I now adhere to, that shared by author Scott McCloud (I found him quoted on Seth Godin’s blog) who believes that marketing is what happens in between the overt acts of the marketer. It’s what happens, he says, when you’re not trying, when you’re being transparent and when there’s no script in place.

He puts it like this:

“It’s not marketing when everything goes right on the flight to Chicago. It’s marketing when your people don’t respond after losing the guitar that got checked.

“It’s not marketing when I use your product as intended. It’s marketing when my friend and I are talking about how the thing we bought from you changed us.

“It’s not marketing when the smiling waitress appears with the soup. It’s marketing when we hear two waiters muttering to each other behind the serving station.”

Clearly, it’s not marketing to deliver a pair of red socks to your target market. It’s marketing when I share the story with others and say how much I liked the approach. And it’s marketing that works when I decide to sell my home and I call Strutt and Parker first.

I genuinely loved the gimmick. Indeed, I’m wearing said too-large socks now (I promise not to raise a lawsuit for personal injury when I trip over the toes) and I’ve shared this story with a number of business colleagues and friends (traditionally, using the personal communication method). I’m also blogging about it and I’ll be Tweeting a link to my blog (the new media approach).

It’s an important lesson in the need for balance between good old-fashioned marketing and good new-fangled marketing.

Find the one that suits your business best and go with it.