Editor’s note: Editor’s note: This post was written by Rohan, who creates digital master plans at E2M Solutions for companies seeking advanced search marketing services. He also works on mobile UX improvement for startups and sui generis brands at OnlyDesign.org. Hit him up on Google+ for a chat on any of these areas.
“Online marketing will wipe out traditional marketing.”
“Digital is the future of marketing.”
“Offline marketing is for dead brands.”
These are common doomsday predictions about offline or traditional marketing that have been parleyed around endlessly in the last decade. The trouble is, these ‘predictions’ do not explain the fact that brands still spent only about 21% of their marketing budgets in 2013 on digital marketing. 2014 is expected to see that number going up to 24.6%.
Some of the most successful marketers in the world spent about $4million for a single 30 second TV spot during this year’s Super Bowl.
Image source: Today’s Super Bowl Ad Face-Off
The Wall Street Journal estimated that about 54.3 million people would flock to Times Square, New York in 2013 to gawk at the most expensive advertising billboards in the world.
And we’re saying traditional marketing is dead?
The jury is still out on that. As an online business owner, you have pretty much every resource you need to start marketing and grow your sales on the web and mobile.
However, you also need to recognize the importance of offline marketing and ensure that you leverage it to the fullest.
Let’s take a look at some inexpensive, yet extremely efficient ways of promoting your business offline…
Sponsor local sports teams
McDonald’s sponsored the Winter Olympics in Sochi this year and the Summer Olympics in London in 2012. Though McDonald’s spent millions of dollars on the sponsorship, it also got fabulous brand visibility thanks to being a part of the largest sporting events on the planet.
Your brand may not be the next McDonald’s, but you can definitely sponsor the local sporting heroes and share the limelight with them.
Image source: The Front Page Online
The upside to sponsoring local sports teams is that unlike the millions that McDonald’s forked over, the hit on your wallet will be exponentially lower.
Partner with local associations and give their members exclusive deals
Reach out to your target audience through the social groups that they are a part of, such as the Rotary Club or Lions’ Club, or followers of a particular church. Offer exclusive deals to members and see them snap it up!
This strategy is similar to what you probably already do on social media e.g. offering a special deal exclusively for your Facebook fans.
Advertise on local radio stations
Radio is an extremely effective and inexpensive medium that allows you to do geographic targeting with your brand messages. Target drive-time slots and create ads that make the customer interact with your brand – a contest, a giveaway, anything that prompts real-time action – and see your brand clout soar.
As an advertiser, you can wrangle an interview with the radio station that will put your brand center-stage and enable you to speak to your potential customers instantly.
Give out coupons at partner stores
A discount or a coupon is seen as real value by consumers. It is also a great way to ensure that a customer will walk in through your doors to buy your product, while simultaneously getting branding through the physical coupon itself.
If you own physical retail stores, make sure you give customers coupons they can redeem for their next purchase. If you do not have your own outlets, you can always reach out to gas stations or other non-competing retail outlets and offer special deals to their customers.
Get a snappy business card and leave them around everywhere
A business card is the offline version of your website. It tells people about your business and helps them reach out to you when they need your services. Design your business card with the same amount of care and personalization as you put into your website. Let it be memorable and your job of making your brand stick in people’s minds is already half done.
Notice how the card has contact information on both pieces!
Make it easy for your target audience to find you. Leave behind your cards (a bunch of your cards) at the dentist’s reception desk, at the local library, at the cash register or on tables of a popular coffee shop – anywhere you think your future customers hang out.
Participate in speaking engagements
These events are typically attended by people who are interested in your product or industry. The good ones are also covered by media – local or national. It’s a great way to promote your brand on other mediums without spending a penny.
Use offline media to drive visitors to your online presence
Create a QR code that can be scanned with any smartphone and put it on a sticker, receipt, poster or billboard.
Image source: Charlotte Gilhooly
Once a customer scans the code, it will lead them to your website where you can close the sale.
Give out branded goodies to customers across everyday touch points
Free branded goodies don’t have to be tacky. Create well made, more importantly, well designed gift items that you can give to potential customers. Make sure the item is not plastered with your brand messaging and looks nice enough for a user to carry around.
The possibilities of gifting are endless and depend entirely on your product or service and the amount of money you have at your disposal. For those on a shoestring budget, you could start with inexpensive branded bookmarks and distribute them at your local bookstore or library. With a little more money, you could give away smart looking branded tote bags at your local grocery chain – they are slightly expensive to make, but they pay for themselves in the long run by acting as mobile billboards each time your customer uses them.
Over to You
It’s critical to connect your offline and online marketing, as Andy Lombard justified on Marketing Land.
Offline marketing can be viewed as expensive from certain perspectives. Its impact on your business is not easily measurable either. But traditional advertising is often the closest you can get to your actual users. You don’t always have to spend a fortune on TV, billboards, broadsheet advertising or in-flight magazines. I hope I’ve managed to convince you that there is a better way.
So stop limiting yourself to one medium because of preconceived notions of what “works” for an online brand.