Marketing has seen a paradigm shift with the rise of all things online and mobile. Creating a business Facebook page, tweeting about industry news, sending sale push notifications to customers… the channels we use to talk to leads and customers are evolving every day. While these platforms are remarkably effective — hey, we wouldn’t be in business if they weren’t — most successful businesses practice a combination of online and offline marketing strategies to generate leads and boost sales.
Sidewalk ads, branded giveaways (like pens or shirts), and local donations are all examples of offline guerrilla marketing. These simple actions are easy ways to spread the business name in subtle but effective ways. Below we pay tribute to the old-school marketing strategies that still do the job today.
1. Distribute business cards whenever possible.
This is perhaps the easiest and cheapest option, which is why it tops the list. You can pass business cards out to neighbors and businesses, pin them to public bulletin boards, slip them into relevant books or magazines at the doctor’s office, and do just about anything else you want with them. For such a tiny object, business cards hold huge potential.
2. Donate gift certificates or products as contest prizes.
Is the town high school holding a silent auction? Is there a charity event that offers prizes? Donate. This is a simple way to establish a personal connection with the public while participating in a good cause. At the very least, winners will put your product or service to use, and you might even gain referrals and visibility out of them.
3. Speak at events.
Find an event related to your industry, and prepare an educational and meaningful speech. This leaves a lasting impression with peers who share a position in your industry and creates a visual representation of your business. If you don’t feel you have enough industry authority to deliver a speech to peers, it’s still helpful to attend the events. Introduce yourself and network with others. The relationships you build could help move the marketing dial elsewhere.
4. Communicate with local print publications.
Despite the consistent rise in online media, print is still effective. Pitch a press release to a magazine or newspaper that targets your audience. Press releases are a simple way to showcase an important event or milestone for your business, and the right publication could land you valuable attention. Stay active and form as many relationships with the press as possible — they’ll come in handy.
5. Send snail mail.
Even in the age of email, snail mail is still an acceptable marketing method. You’d be surprised how many people prefer physical offers. It’s more costly and you miss out on the data you get from email campaigns, but you’ll stand out amongst your email-only competitors. Send coupons or new product updates, product samples, newsletters, or anything you think might promote your business the best. This is definitely a more personalized approach to marketing.
6. Make cold calls.
Put together a list of potential customers and call them up. Well, first establish a cold-calling strategy, then call them up. Tailor the conversation to each customer and be mindful of their time and needs. Though it’s typically more of a sales move, cold-calling can help you build collaborative relationships with other businesses and potentially gain some new customers along the way.
7. Participate in trade shows.
Trade shows put you under the same roof as the competition. You can study their pitch, check out their marketing materials and generally gain real insight into their strategy. Of course, trade shows are also awesome opportunities to showcase your product and market your company. Network with other professionals and look for opportunities to grow by working together
8. Revamp your packaging or presentation
Strengthen your brand by reevaluating your presentation. How do you compare to the competition? Looks matter — your branding and store design speak volumes. Maybe it’s time to refresh outdated looks that aren’t sending the right message to potential customers. Take time to revisit and iterate; the slightest change could make a big difference.
9. Celebrate successes.
Host a party, business gathering, or some form of celebratory event to share your success. Maybe you reached you landed a big partnership or launched a new service. Reach out to the local press to spread the word. Take the opportunity to acknowledge your team and encourage future successes. Your celebrations are bound to catch the attention of your target audience and secure you some future business
10. Sponsor a community event.
If finances allow, this is a phenomenal way to spread your name far and wide. Instead of just tabling at an event, take the lead and sponsor one. Plan a 5K or team up with a non-profit to host a fundraiser. When you’re the host, you can handle the merchandise. Give out branded goods, coupons and pamphlets and discount cards. This builds a positive brand image that people respect.
These tips range widely in cost and effort, but they can each impact your bottom line and mix up your marketing efforts. So welcome new technology and strategies, but don’t forget their offline roots! You can have a bit of fun along the way.
By Patrick Schock