The fact that digital now dominates the marketing landscape worldwide has led thousands of business owners to reach the same conclusion:
Offline marketing is dead and buried.
For the most part, the assumption suggests that in an era of new-generation digital marketing, there’s little to no value to be gained by focusing on offline channels. Indeed, thousands of businesses that once have invested heavily in print advertising, TV ads, billboards and so on now direct at least 90% of their marketing budgets the way of digital.
But at the same time, the overwhelming majority of successfulmarketers continue to sing the praises of offline marketing. At least, when used strategically and in conjunction with a strong and holistic digital strategy.
Digital marketing is undoubtedly the bread and butter of most businesses, but there’s a handful of reasons as to why offline marketingis still very relevant:
In-person interaction has unique value and influence
One of which being the potential value and positive impact of in-person interaction. All the technology in the world cannot provide a comprehensively faithful replication of in-person meetings and one-to-one interaction. If you have the opportunity to meet with potential clients, partners or anyone else of importance in person, you’re almost guaranteed to build a connection much stronger than had you met and communicated via digital channels. It’s a little like a person walking into a store and speaking directly with a customer service representative, as opposed to simply calling a helpline or sending an email. The in-person option carries so much more weight and value.
Offline marketing can reach enormous audiences
It’s also worth remembering that while younger demographics now live their lives almost entirely online, the same cannot be said for alldemographics across the board. Particularly when it comes to seniors and consumers living in less developed nations worldwide, offline marketing can still pack a powerful punch. As such, to abandon offline marketing channels entirely is to completely turn your back on those who don’t yet buy into (or even access) contemporary digital services. From newspaper advertisement to leaflets to radio ads and so on, there are still millions who take heed of the messages they receive via more traditional advertising channels.
It can be surprisingly cost-effective
Depending on which offline marketing channels you choose to explore, it can also be a surprisingly cost-effective strategy. Due to the ever accelerating popularity of digital marketing, traditional marketing is becoming more affordable than ever before. Even if looking to place advertisements prominently in newspapers and magazines, it doesn’t cost nearly as much to do so as it once did. In addition, you’ve every opportunity to print your own offline marketing materials for next to nothing, should you wish to do so.
The timeless impact and appeal of offline
It’s no secret these days that the vast majority of people completely ignore the marketing messages they encounter online. Primarily due to the fact that they have to – research suggesting that the average consumer now sees in the region of 4,000 ads per day. But what’s interesting is that when it comes to offline marketing materials, consumers seem significantly more likely to take heed of the respective message. It may have something to do with the perceived time and effort that’s gone into producing the material in question, or simply the world’s widespread scepticism of all-things digital.
Putting Offline Marketing to Work for Your Small Business
One of the primary contributors to the popularity of digital marketing is accessibility. Irrespective of the size and nature of the business in question, there are literally thousands of potentially profitable digital marketing channels to explore at the click of a mouse.
By contrast, offline marketing is typically regarded as a more time-consuming concept. One that doesn’t guarantee the same potential ROI.
In reality, offline marketing is not only accessible, but also exceptionally versatile and well within the reach of just about any small business. Once again, the key to success with offline marketing lies in its strategic inclusion in a wider, multichannel marketing strategy.
As for potential avenues to explore, some of the most cost-effective and potentially lucrative examples of contemporary offline marketing include the following:
1. Free press publicity
There are two enormous benefits that accompany positive press coverage. For one thing, newspapers and news outlets in general are still predominantly trusted by the masses. Hence, anything positive said about your business is likely to carry significant weight for your target audience. Secondly, provide the press with something interesting to say about your business and they’ll promote you free of charge. It’s simply a case of thinking long and hard about why they might wish to do so.
2. Branded merchandise
Over the years, the associated costs of branded merchandise have plummeted exponentially. Particularly when it comes to the usual staples – pens, pencils, stickers and so on – they can be picked up right now for next to nothing. The fact that comparatively few people can resist a freebie makes this a great approach to offline marketing. Along with spreading the good word about your business, you’ll also score points by handing things out for free in the first place.
3. Low-cost newspaper ads
Set your sights on local newspapers (or magazines) and you may be surprised just how affordable prime advertising real estate can be. This is particularly useful for smaller and newer businesses, which in the early days at least could probably benefit from casting their nets over a relatively modest geographic area. It’s far easier to succeed at the start as a smaller local business, as opposed to attempting to take over the entire country/world overnight.
You’d be surprised just how many people in prominent positions are more than happy to endorse your products and services if given the opportunity to experience them for free. From local newspapers to radio stations to influencers at every level, provide them with a sample of whatever it is you do and ask if they’d be happy to endorse it. The worst they can do is say no, though it’s unlikely anyone you encounter will turn down the opportunity to take home a freebie or two.
Embrace every opportunity to network and build strong connections with others within your niche. This kind of in-person marketing ensures that the human face and personality of your brand is what’s encountered first by those you’re looking to do business with. It’s often said that the stronger your professional network, the more likely you are to succeed. In addition, be sure to keep a database of the personal details of each and every individual you meet along the way – you never know when you might need them.
6. Hosting events
Putting on some kind of business event – especially if there’s free food available – can be a great way of attracting and influencing others. This is a particularly useful approach if working as a B2B organisation, essentially hosting your own networking event with you as the life and soul of the party. These kinds of events will cost you next to nothing to organise and chair, though could help you build genuinely invaluable business connections for the benefit of your company.
7. Trade shows and expos
It’s always worth remembering that you don’t necessarily have to stand a booth at a trade show to take full advantage of the event. Even if you turn up simply as a visitor, you can still market the living daylights out of your business to the show’s vendors and attendees alike. Stock up on printed materials, practice your pitch and collect as many business cards as you can lay your hands on.
8. Coupons, flyers and handouts
Speaking of which, traditional printed materials can be a great way of spreading the word about your business and whatever it is you do. See if you can organise some kind of deal with the local shop, newspaper or magazine to have your printed materials slotted inside relevant publications. Leaving piles of coupons and handouts in random places can help, but it’s better to approach the distribution process strategically.
9. Direct mail
In most instances, a response rate of no more than say 2% or 3% could cover the entire cost of a direct mail marketing campaign. What’s more, direct mail marketing is statistically more likely to appeal to all the demographics than contemporary e-mail marketing. You’ll need to invest the required time and effort in the development of a winning strategy, but the potential power and value of direct mail marketing cannot be overstated.
Last but not least, you could always seek to establish mutually beneficial arrangements with other businesses within your niche. Pinpoint other companies with products or services related to yours, contact them directly and discuss the available options for promoting each other’s businesses. This can be a great way of both expanding your reach and minimising the associated costs of your offline marketing strategies.