Don’t miss the 21 offline marketing ideas listed below. It’s easy to believe innovation and results can only be driven digitally, but some of the best advertising and marketing takes place away in the physical world. The best marketing strategy will combine offline marketing with various digital elements to make sure you’re covering all the touch points for your brand.
Offline marketing is an obvious choice for any business with a local customer base. But it’s impossible to think of any successful global brand which doesn’t make extensive use of physical media to raise awareness and drive leads or sales.
If you’re feeling a little jaded and need some inspiration, just take a look below
1. Boost Your Staff
When was the last time you looked at how your staff interact with customers and the impression they give? There’s no better way to give a great impression than well-presented, personable staff that can effectively solve the problems your customers face. Just ask a variety of brands who put employees at the centre of their marketing strategy, including Virgin, Zappos and more.
2. Make the Most of Business Cards
It’s worth investing in good quality business cards for all staff, and ensuring that you always have them handy. You never know when you’ll need to share your details. In addition, lots of business networks and events will have places to share your card. It can be worthwhile hiring a designer either via a crowdsourcing website or by going directly to someone who can work with you across your branding.† You could also hold a contest or create a design project with a local school or college. Get inspired with this Pinterest board.
3. Capitalise on Branded Merchandise
Every company will end up with a pile of branded merchandise after events and promotions. Why not plan ahead for ways you can help the local community and spread the good name of your brand – pens, bookmarks, mouse mats etc can be donated to a range of local organisations and charities. And many business leaders are active philanthropists and volunteers, so you never know who might see your name in a positive light, away from the noise and competition at a trade show.
4. Consider Sponsorship
Not every business can afford to sponsor Manchester United, but luckily you don’t have to. Supporting a local sports team can be a great way to reach the community, and who knows if a world-class or Olympic star might be lurking. Local events and organisations also value sponsors and will be far more accommodating than if you’re the smallest of 50 companies all contributing to a much larger event.
Some local groups might appreciate other resources than financial sponsorship – for instance, office space that could be used as a meeting place, or other support your business could provide.
5. Provide Plenty of Prizes
Competitions and prizes are hugely popular in digital and offline marketing. And you’ll often find offering a number of smaller value prizes will work better in gaining entries than one very large prize, as entrants will believe they’ve got a better chance of winning. And with every entry comes the opportunity to gather customer data and make contact at a convenient later date – as long as you don’t abuse that privilege.
6. Make your Print Material Special
Flyers and pamphlets still provide an important role both in event marketing and direct mail. Check, check and check again for typos, spelling mistakes and other errors before any material is sent out.
This is another chance to be a little innovative and go beyond standard design templates – just consider where the recipient will be when they get your print material, and whether it’s still practical for them to read, keep, and save.
Some local businesses provide print newsletters for customers, which can be a great way to keep your community informed, and link with other local firms as advertisers.
7. Celebrate Holidays with Cards and Gifts
In some business verticals, Christmas cards and gifts may be relatively common. But a well-designed and thoughtful personalised greeting or present can show your company really cares about customers or clients.
Alternatively, you can show your company values by donating to charity or supporting a good cause on behalf of your clients.
8. Specific Group Discounts
You can support relevant groups locally and nationally by offering a specific discount for them. Not only does this allow members to feel privileged, but it also provides something the group itself can advertise as an incentive for coming along to prospective new members. Opportunities for bulk buying and discounts can also lead to large sales boosts.
9. Speak to relevant journalists
It’s far easier to get favourable coverage from a newspaper or magazine journalist if you’ve had a chance to meet them and get to know them a little without it being part of an actual PR pitch.† This doesn’t mean stalking them – but taking the chance to chat at business events, meetings, and other social opportunities.† This makes them far more likely to notice your press releases from the hundreds they receive every day – so make sure you then offer them something newsworthy. Try this site for locating a journalist near your business.
10. Think about billboards
Whether you’re looking at static or mobile outdoor advertising, consider whether you can be a little bit edgier or innovative to ensure you stand out amongst the crowd. And make sure your Call To Action is relevant and clear, particularly if you’re by a roadside when customers will be speeding past.
For traditional mobile billboards companies like†Blueline Media†offer transit based advertising across most US cities. †Technology is rapidly changing this industry with startups like Immersive Labs,†who use webcams to determine the gender and age of people looking at their boards and display segmented ads accordingly. Cisco have also developed billboards that determine a drivers speed, messages are then delivered in a readable length for each driver.
12. Fix your packaging
Whether or not you sell physical goods, there are countless opportunities to add some marketing and branding boosts to your delivery. Providing customers with some free stickers is a simple and cost-effective way for fans of a brand to spread the word. If you’re providing a service, stickers and branded pens left behind can all still work for you.
13. Ask for Advice
Benjamin Franklin famously observed that by asking someone for a favor, they’re more likely to help you than if you’d even helped them in some way. One way a business can benefit from this psychological principle is to establish an expert advisory panel of valuable connections – from other businesses, or of high value customers etc. Meetup is great for connecting with like minded people.
14. Make the most of Trade Shows
Whether displaying or attending, make sure you have a clear objective for trade shows and exhibitions. Whether you require contacts in a certain field, or a set number of business leads, make sure your primary aim is clearly stated and communicated to everyone attending from your company. Your promotional ideas, material and tactics will need to change to suit your objective. Try this trade show database to locate one for industry.
15. Network, network, network
There are opportunities to build a business network by attending events in even the smallest town. Make sure you’re aware of all the relevant business networking opportunities in your area and actively attending as much as possible. Events like these can be a lifeline for any referral-based business. Again Meetup.com is a great place to find local business groups in your area.
16. Celebrate your success
Don’t be shy about celebrating the success of your business. Make the most of press releases, testimonials and recommendations, and even parties to celebrate achievements. An annual celebration of being in business is a good way to meet more potential business leads and network, as well as reward yourself and your employees.
17. Enter Relevant Awards
There are awards in every industry and location. Make sure you’re entering relevant local awards on a regular basis, and be prepared that national awards will tend to have an associated level of quality and quantity when it comes to entries.
18. Get Artistic and Project Your Business
It’s not suitable for every project, but the cost of outdoor projection is becoming less and less. And that includes the 3D projection used to show detailed film on almost any structure. Previously used mainly by music and entertainment companies to promote movies and videogames, the cost is constantly coming down as the technology improves – and smaller scale approximations are also available to do something a bit different.
Alternatively, why not speak to a few local artists and see what ideas they might have? Not everything will always be suitable, but you could get something amazing, from chalk street art to something much more complex.
19. Make the most of your location
Make sure you use your physical location, particularly if it is interesting in some way, or it involves a physical retail space which you can use to drive your online marketing. Make sure you have clear prompts if you wish your customers to ‘check in’ via Facebook, Swarm, or review your business online as well as in person. You could even have a laptop or tablet available for customers to use, as long as you’re careful to clear all data in between users.
And you can display the same information physically. Rather than a guest book, what about a photo wall of happy customers?
20. Pop up in vacant spaces
Pop-up shops and restaurants have received a lot of press recently. Behind the hype, it’s a great way to make temporary use of a vacant space, and local councils and landlords are often happy to help any activity that improves the local area and encourages longer-term tenants.
It can be something closely related to your business, or something to benefit the local community – a cafe, art exhibition or charity event.
21. Guerilla Marketing
The definition of Guerilla Marketing is when people can’t be sure whether it’s marketing or not. For instance, organising a Flash Mob of dancers or zombies in a city centre, organising a street festival, or a themed tour of your local area,or temporary graffiti and street art. Just make sure any artwork is easily removed and you’ve got the relevant permissions to remain legal. Chalk art is a great way to get an impact which can be removed without a cost attached.
Jane Freeman (@Digital_Jane) is a freelance content marketer based in the UK and working on projects worldwide.