In a recent post, we talked about how to make the most of your digital content online, but whilst we live in a digital age, marketing is not just a digital discipline. With the proliferation of online marketing channels, social media, email, search engine marketing, pay-per-click etc. it is easy to forget that marketing has been around for centuries before the internet. Most of these ‘real-world’ channels are still out there. There are many opportunities to promote your business and engage with your marketplace away from the internet. Sometimes, because there is so much focus online, using offline options as part of your marketing mix can help you to stand out. One of the key reasons for the rise and rise of online marketing is cost. Most traditional offline marketing channels (newspapers, magazines, TV, Radio, postal services etc.) are ‘owned’ by someone. They then charge you every time you want to use their channel to communicate with your market. The internet changed that. With some notable exceptions, once you pay for access to the internet, how much and when you use it costs no more. The communication process is, to all intents and purposes, FREE! The costs of online marketing normally relate to buying the creative and/or technical input of third parties. If you are willing to learn and have a go yourself, internet marketing can cost you nothing other than your time. Clearly, this is extremely appealing to many SME business owners. However, in the ‘dive for digital‘, offline marketing is easily forgotten. In reality, the work you put into developing your online marketing can be extended effectively offline at minimal extra cost. Let’s have a look at some of the options:
Write once – use many
In the link at the top of this post, I refer to an article showing how you can use the same content online on different platforms – well it doesn’t just have to be online. There are still thousands of print journals out there, all with space to fill:
- National Press
- Local Press
- Sector Trade Journals
- Networking Group Magazines
These publications all need news and other content to fill their pages so tell them your news. So long as it is relevant and of interest to readers, there is every likelihood they will print it. If you regularly deliver good editorial content (even if you are also using it on your website or elsewhere) you may even find you get a regular slot. Okay, many print journals rely on advertising revenue to survive so there may be a bit of quid-pro-quo. If you want to build a long-term relationship, combining a modest amount of well-targeted advertising with a regular flow of good content can make your advertising budget go a very long way! Actually, a key to quality editorial content is to avoid using it as a sales pitch whereas, in an advert, you can pitch however you wish – though these days I reckon overselling can be a real turn-off to customers!
I know, exhibiting is expensive. Even so, you don’t have to go to the cost of taking space and standing there for 2 or 3 days to get value from an exhibition. The beauty of exhibitions is you have lots of businesses all gathered together in one place. While there, they have the sole purpose of talking to people. If you work in a niche market, even better. Exhibitions in your sector can be really fruitful marketing grounds. If you are visiting an exhibition as a marketing project, remember that the theory is the visitors are there to be sold to and the exhibitors do the selling. If you turn up on a stand and try to sell to the people there you will get a frosty reception. I have even seen shows where exhibitors put up notices saying ‘No Sales!’ The key is to remember it isn’t about selling. It’s about contacts and relationships.If you visit an exhibition expecting to come away with new customers, you are likely to be disappointed. However, if you go with the aim of making new contacts and the possibility of future partnerships, your visit may be more fruitful.
Never forget: It's a process, not an event.
Long live the Mailshot
Very few SME businesses use the post for marketing these days. Yet precisely because if this, it can be a great communication channel. The key is targeting. Like many businesses, you may use email marketing. Let’s face it, email newsletters are at the heart of my business! Yet regular mail can be a great medium for targeted follow-up. If you use a dedicated email marketing tool such as MailChimp, you have access to statistics. These show who opens and clicks on your messages. Tracking these stats, you can build a picture of who shows interest, even if they haven’t been in touch. How can you move them to the next level? A cold (to the recipient) telephone call might appear a bit too pushy. I was recently in the midst of browsing a company website when their sales rep called me. Big Brother IS watching you! On the other hand, a personal letter could be a great introduction to a follow-up call. It could even trigger a call from them to you.
Mix your marketing
Open any book on marketing and you will find yourself reading about the Marketing Mix. Just like life, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to your marketing. The best results come from a carefully considered and consistently implemented mix of marketing approaches. The online world certainly offers powerful resources to push your marketing ahead but remember to keep the real world in the mix. There are are some great opportunities that, used effectively, can help to give you an edge.