The digital age is here and now, and every company nowadays is turning to the internet and social media to peddle their wares. And why shouldn’t they? Website building and e–commerce platforms allow you to set up your online presence in mere hours; social media allows you to reach massive audiences around the world at a moment’s notice; and web content management tools allow you to track how effective your marketing campaigns are without the need for statisticians to have to do the math.
But as the saying goes, old habits die hard. As effective as online marketing methods are, they aren’t the one-size-fits-all solution. The Internet is new–fangled technology, and because of that it cannot spread your brand to every possible demographic. What if your target customers are senior citizens?
They may have a hard time finding your company if it only markets through social media. In these situations, it may be time to disconnect, break out the old pen and paper, and start marketing offline. Here are a few ways you can boost your brand without the aid of the Internet.
1. Paper beats rock
Paper is a powerful thing. It has been the primary medium for recording our history and our culture, and it has more than proven itself capable of withstanding the test of time. Paper is so resilient, in fact, that we do not see our technology rendering it completely obsolete for at least another few thousand years. Long before the Internet and mobile phones, print advertising ruled supreme as the marketing tool to have besides outright word-of-mouth. And even to this day, it still works and it still gets the job done, so print advertising is a great way to get people talking about your brand.
If you want to go down this route, you have a huge list of options to choose from, which can vary both in cost and in scale. If you’re a small business, handouts are a great place to start. Print eye-catching flyers and brochures that will point potential customers to your company, and always print a few business cards to have on hand, so you have something to give to anyone you meet who may want to get in touch with you later on (this is especially important regardless of the size of your company). If you plan to go bigger, you can call attention to your brand with larger posters and billboards. They work best if they are placed in conspicuous, high-traffic areas where they can be seen by a lot of people every day.
Regardless of which of these options you choose, the key here is to get creative. Print ads have been around for decades, so you can reasonably expect people to ignore simple advertisements. Fancy designs or good-looking ads just don’t cut it anymore – people have already seen them before. So if you really want to catch people’s attention, innovate. Get clever with your choice of words and designs. Subvert people’s expectations. Give your ads something that lets them stand out from the crowd so that people who see them are more likely to stop and take notice. One great example of this in action is a billboard advertisement for a car, which intentionally placed a typo in the wording to get people’s attention, playing on our tendency to judge the mistakes we spot.
2. Get to know people – and get them to know you
For anyone who works on a freelance or a per-commission basis, knowing someone is everything. People who work as musicians or graphic designers will very likely get most of their gigs or jobs from friends of friends of friends or some other far-reaching connection in their network. As a business owner, building networks may not have as drastic an impact as it has on the working musician, but it is still important nonetheless. Having a solid network will help you – and, in turn, your brand – to be recognised and remembered.
A great place to start building your own network is by joining industry events such as trade shows. Trade shows and fairs attract both businesses and customers alike, so there is much to take away from these events. As a business owner, you can showcase your products to gain customers and clients; you can learn new marketing strategies from larger players in the industry, which you can apply to your own business; and you can join local business organisations which gives you more opportunities to connect with other business and potential clients. In these sorts of events, your business cards become your most powerful tool to get people to remember you, so always have them at the ready.
People tend to remember faces better than names, so it’s always a good idea to put a face behind the brand so people can remember both. Besides attending trade shows, a great way to get people to associate your face with your brand is to take opportunities to speak at events. Speaking engagements will give you a chance to connect directly with your target audience, so you can use this to showcase your company and its products or services.
A great speech will also build your credibility as a business owner (or even an employee), and in doing so you can gain the trust of your employees or your superiors. If you don’t yet have the reputation needed to be able to speak at an event, attending the event is still a great way to gain further knowledge and build connections.
3. Set up promotions and giveaways
The previous tips all focus on making the brand known to the customers; however, what good is a brand that people know but don’t support? A couple ways to convince people to buy your products is through promotions and giveaways. Offer discounts on your products for certain demographics to encourage them to buy from you.
Set up contests and competitions featuring your products as the prizes; alternatively, you can give your products to a third party as part of their contest or giveaway promotion. Manufacture merchandise with your brand name on it – pens, stickers, notebooks, bookmarks, and more – and have them ready as giveaways to complement your showcase during events.
If you have a surplus of company merchandise, consider donating them to a non-profit organisation who may find some use in, say, pens and notebooks – doing this will advertise your brand and help your local community in the process. One tip to bear in mind is the quality of the promotional products. Although small businesses will want to keep their costs low, poor quality items that break easily, can actually tarnish your brand look instead of promote it.
4. Use what’s already there
Print advertising doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to print your advertisements yourself. Instead, you can simply take advantage of media that is already in circulation to spread awareness about your brand. Try to get advertising spots on newspapers and magazines; taking this idea further, you can utilise your connections with journalists and writers to help promote your brand through interviews with you or reviews about your products. You can also do the same with radio stations to get your brand name heard on the air waves.
5. Get creative
As we’ve mentioned before, creativity is key. Innovate. Think outside the box. Take the road less travelled. These tips are all tried and true ways to spread your brand awareness, but beyond that, you will have to rely on your intuition and what you know about your target audience in order to reach them.
Guerrilla marketing methods are proving very effective in boosting brand awareness; their unorthodox nature breaks away from common marketing tropes, which is really good at grabbing people’s attention. This may be an option you can consider.
But in all things, balance is still very important. In this day and age, a business cannot rely solely on offline marketing, the same way a business cannot rely solely on online marketing. The perfect marketing strategy uses a combination of both offline and online marketing methods. It is up to you – the marketer or the business owner – to figure out the rest.