Once upon time and not so long ago we didn’t have the internet! Yes, can you imagine a day when we didn’t have access to billions of pages of information at our finger tips and shock horror, we survived!
And so, ironic as it may appear, this post you’re reading on the web is looking at ways for your business to market on a shoestring without the internet…
If you’re part of what Nielsen have now coined Generation C or Generation Connected i.e. the 18-34 year olds that are seemingly permanently attached to one device or another that probably doesn’t even bear thinking about?
But those of us just a few years older remember well how we coped with marketing without the help of the web. Indeed we remember a time when there was no such thing as a mobile phone either and a telex machine which you may now giggle at in “history” books about the 80s was the height of communications sophistication!
Marketing before the web?
So, how did businesses actually market themselves without the use of the web, when you didn’t have access to stats from
anywhere in the world or the ability to update an ad where despite numerous checks a typo has slipped through?
Well, we engaged in what we’d now call Traditional Marketing or to some, the old-fashioned way. Activities would possibly have encompassed some or all of the following;
- Point of sale material
- Outdoor advertising
- Newsletters (and not necessarily the email type either!)
- Print advertising
And where do they stand in today’s digital marketplace where return on investment can be quantified if you run a pay per click advertising campaign as opposed to spending on an expensive print ad on the front page of a national or local newspaper where you simply wait for the calls?
Well, the answer is that they’re actually still quite important. More so than all the digital evangelists in the world would have you believe in fact.
I’m a huge fan of social media and the web in general and quite probably spend a considerably longer number of hours online that most due to the work I do for clients and indeed, for our own business. On occasion however where there’s a glitch with broadband or the offline world keeps me away from the web it can be quite refreshing to actually pick up the phone and speak to people as opposed to sending an email!
There are even in 2012 quite a lot of businesses who don’t even have a reliable broadband connection or any inclination to log on to the web for anything other than booking a flight for their well-earned holidays. And of course there are some people who just don’t do computers, people who aren’t happy that the day is coming where you’ll only be able to purchase a smart phone or amazingly still have little confidence in something as simple as an ATM card?
So, just how do you make a connection with people if you or your customers don’t particularly like the web?
Well, as time and industry have moved on it may cost you more but some of the businesses I’ve worked with strongly believe in and practice some of the following, which won’t break the bank;
# 1. Phone Calls
Obviously this can vary depending on your customer base, but sometimes a phone call can bring in a far more profitable result for your business than any number of emails or clever social media campaigns. As any good salesperson knows, listening is the number one skill needed to close the sale and where better than a phone to do this?
# 2. Customer Events
Bring your customers to you and tell or show them what you and your staff do? You’ll know what’s best for your business and sometimes an evening or afternoon a month might work, other times it might be a few events per year. Ultimately though once you’ve got them over the threshold you’ve made a good start. And yes some may be there for the nibbles, but more often than not you’ll get the goodwill back in business and over time it might even become a tradition.
# 3. Mailshots
We’ve all been on the receiving end of bundles junk mail in the letterbox but what about a real letter with some very interesting business information and content that’s appropriate to them? Yes it would cost considerably more than an email newsletter with postage alone probably being the biggest factor. But although you can’t track an open-rate chances are it will be higher than your average email if it’s managed properly – and that would of course include a strong call to action which you should plan to monitor.
# 4. Added Value Offerings
If you know your customer comes in once a month for a particular option, reward them with an incentive to come back in for a new service or product. This is something you’d arrange during their visit and can be printed on the back of a receipt or handed out as a flyer when the customer is paying their bill.
# 5. Sponsorship
Easy to implement, often costing less than you might expect too but looking after the kit for a local kids sports team where of course the audience is of doting parents is a branding opportunity that is often missed. Local schools, church groups or senior citizens clubs are also often not considered and yet are the places some of your customers may go on a frequent basis?
# 6. Business Associations
While all the emphasis has moved to social networking, you should never neglect the local business or trade association where over time you’ll regularly find trust blossoms into fruitful business relationships. Often you’ll find that the cost of any such association is quite insignificant when you weigh it up against the business gained throughout the year.
# 7. Local Newspapers
Depending on your location the distribution might be anything from a few thousand to several million, but ultimately all media outlets are on the lookout for relevant information all of the time. If you’re looking for a spot in the national newspapers you’re obviously competing for space with many, many others. If however your target audience is local you may well find the local free-sheet a very receptive audience, especially when you consider they’re probably working on quite a restrictive budget too.
# 8. Print Media
Prices can vary enormously for an ad in the print media although in recent years the overall costs have dropped considerably. You can however even amongst the most expensive of options find that rates may vary dramatically depending on the type of ad you place or even the day of the week. For those who aren’t particularly web-savvy you’ll often find the paper has an online edition which automatically gets a copy of your ad with no additional effort from you too and maybe even the attention of those customers you weren’t specifically targeting in the first place – an added bonus!
# 9. Point Of Sale Material
If your business is in retail you’ll have a plan in place to display your wares in windows but if space permits, review what alternatives are available in close proximity or even inside your own premises that may offer additional space for information or special offers – vacant units are frequently a godsend and you’re removing an eyesore from the high street at the same time! Update your material regularly too, if a window display looks the same for too long people will switch off.
Why you may ask have I looked at marketing without the web? Well, as I’ve illustrated above there are myriad options available when it comes to getting attention for your business and you don’t necessarily need to spend time up-skilling or struggling with the online world to market your business.
And of course if you do decide to up-skill or are perfectly happy with your grasp of social media and / or the web, what’s to stop you adding these suggestions to your marketing plan this year anyway?
A version of this post first appeared on TweakYourBiz.com on 29th February 2012, written by Debbie McDonnell who is the owner of The Marketing Shop and also a contributor to the business blogging community TweakYourBiz.com