Offline marketing has taken something of a backseat in recent times, so Josh Hall asks: is it still an effective marketing medium for business?
The emergence and growth of digital marketing methods, and all of the associated benefits, has meant that many firms are ploughing all of their resources into the internet at the expense of conventional marketing techniques.
But, for all of the advantages of the internet, offline marketing still has its place. Many firms continue to thrive using only offline marketing – and many others could benefit from adopting a ‘back to basics’ approach. Often the most effective campaigns are those that make use of a broad range of techniques and tactics, both online and offline.
So what are some of the most important offline marketing concepts, and how can you use them to generate those all important leads?
As well as direct marketing, you might want to investigate offline advertising. Although local newspapers are having a tough time, a significant proportion of people outside cities continue to read them. A well constructed ad with a clear CTA could be a big lead generator.
There are plenty of other places that you might consider advertising. Point of sale marketing is particularly effective; while customers are waiting at a till they are likely to be naturally drawn to eye-catching graphics in their field of vision. So, why not try approaching other local businesses to see if you could leave some flyers with them?
This can also help you to build up invaluable relationships with other firms. Think about promotions that you could run with other businesses in the area. For example, customers that spend a certain amount with you might get a discount elsewhere, and vice versa.
Direct marketing has fallen out of fashion in many organisations as it can be quite expensive and sometimes difficult to measure results. However, it can still be an efficient way of generating high-quality leads. Direct marketing means delivering your message straight to potential customers, and encouraging them to respond to a call-to-action (CTA).
Direct mail remains one of the most popular forms of direct marketing, and it can have important uses for local businesses. For example, takeaway restaurants send leaflets to every house in their delivery area and still find this an effective way of generating custom. But why stop at takeaways? Local hairdressers, beauty salons, butchers, grocers, and many other shops and businesses can benefit from similar promotion.
Direct mail campaigns often use a discount code for both incentive and tracking purposes, and a typical CTA might be, “Quote this code for 20 per cent off”.
Direct marketing can have significant costs. If you are using direct mail you must pay for literature to be printed and delivered; if you are using telephone marketing you must have someone to man the phones. You should also remember that direct marketing can be very unpopular with customers. Ensure that you take a sensible, thoughtful approach; for example, make sure that you do not deliver leaflets to houses with ‘no junk mail’ signs on the letter box.
For some businesses, trade shows are an undervalued marketing resource. If you rely on business-to-business transactions (B2B) for any of your income, you should seriously consider exhibiting at relevant trade shows.
These events provide a valuable opportunity to make personal contact with prospective clients. Direct advertising and other unsolicited advances can be useful, but personal contact and a face-to-face conversation are often far more successful. Try to exhibit at, or at least attend, the most popular trade shows in your sector. Exhibiting can be costly – particularly at the larger events – so before going ahead with it, make sure you will be getting a decent return on your investment.
With that said, you need not necessarily make a sale at these events to make them worthwhile. It would be unusual for you to come away from a trade show with contracts signed. Instead, consider them an opportunity for lead generation, networking and brand promotion – just like conventional advertising methods.
Effective offline marketing
Finally, there are a few general concepts and guidelines that you should consider when using any advertising method. The environment is saturated with advertising, and if yours is to stand out you need to think creatively.
Make sure that your adverts are directed at your target market. Talk about them and their needs, not about you. Metaphor, simile and humour can all be effective if used well – but do not build your marketing material around a bad joke for the sake of it. Finally, try to present an offer in your adverts. Make clear what you are offering, and how you are different from your competitors.
Offline marketing is still a valuable tool, particularly if your customer base is unlikely to use the internet as their primary source of information. With a well thought out campaign across a variety of different media, you can secure more leads and improve your profitability.