15 Offline Marketing Tactics for Small Businesses That Really Work
There’s no denying that a large percentage of businesses today have turned their marketing focuses towards the worlds of online and digital marketing instead of offline marketing. And rightfully so; approximately 1.66 billion people worldwide purchase goods online in 2017.
As the world changes and consumers rely more and more on the Internet to both shop and to make decisions on where and how they want to spend their money, online and digital marketing is going to continue to dominate in the future. However, the fact that online marketing is the future doesn’t mean that grassroots, offline marketing tactics are entirely obsolete.
In order to stand out from the competition and grow year over year, most successful businesses have realized that being able to combine and balance their offline marketing and online marketing efforts is truly the best way to go.
Even in 2018, there are still demographics that can be reached more easily through offline marketing than online campaigns. And despite the fact that online and digital marketing strategies can be very effective when implemented correctly, there are offline tactics that you can implement that can offer an even better return on investment, especially when marketing your brand and business locally.
Here are 15 offline marketing tactics that still work and can still boost leads and sales when executed correctly.
Make Your Packaging Stand Out
One of the quickest and easiest ways to catch the attention of potential customers is by working on the way you package your products. With a little creativity, any business can come up with a cool design for their packages, bags or boxes in which they sell their items.
If your product is sitting on a shelf next to similar items being sold by your competitors, having eye-catching product packaging can very easily give you a real advantage. Even when you’ve already made a sale, try to make your bags or boxes with which your customer leaves your store look interesting and attractive.
There’s a very good chance that other people will notice what your customers are carrying, see the logo of your company on the packaging and get interested in your business.
Engage Local Media
Make friends with your local television and radio stations. Buying ad time on local stations is still pretty cheap these days and if your business depends a lot on your community, getting airtime on local stations will be great for getting the word out about you.
Become close with members of the local media should be a staple of your local marketing plan and getting to know the people who work at local radio and television stations is a good place to start.
Good relationships can lead to many things outside of simply buying ad time from them. They can invite you as a guest to talk about your business when a topic comes up that is related to what you do, for example.
Rent Billboard Space
Another local offline marketing tactic that’s always worth investing in is buying ad space on billboards. However, in order for them to be successful, you need to make sure that they both look great and that they are located in a high-traffic area of your local community, preferably somewhere close to your business location.
Billboards aren’t very cheap, but the return on investment can be massive in terms of exposure and new business if you’re doing it right. Make sure that the most important details of your business are very visible; your contact information, physical address and website address, most of all.
Talk to the Press
Despite what online media is telling you, print media is definitely not dead and buried. There are plenty of people who still purchase newspapers and magazines or at least browse them at local restaurants, doctor’s offices, hotels and other businesses that offer their customers printed publications to peruse.
Identify the most popular newspapers and magazines in your area and try to form relationships with them. Outside of, once again, simply buying ad space in these publications, there are many more avenues you can take to gain exposure through local press and printed media.
Journalists are always looking for sources when putting together stories. If they know you and identify you as an expert source based on the topic that they are researching, there’s a good chance that they will ask you for a quote or an interview. Not only is that free press and advertising, it’s also an opportunity for demonstrating your expertise pertaining to what your business does.
Create Branded Merchandise
Believe it or not, people love wearing business related merchandise – especially when it is a business they love. Remember in the 1970s when just about every popular beer brand was putting out sweaters? People love branded merchandise.
Have you ever said “no” to a branded pen or mug that a business was offering you? Of course not. Giving away branded merchandise is a perfect way to get your name out and make people aware of your business.
You shouldn’t even be afraid of trying to sell branded merchandise because people will buy it if they love your business and want to show their support. If you come up with a great design or a funny/clever slogan, there’s no chance you won’t both make money and increase your brand recognition by doing so.
Network All the Time
Even the smallest businesses in the smallest towns, operating in the tiniest niche markets have tons of opportunities to network. All you have to do is make sure that you are always talking to people, no matter where you are at the moment.
You never know when you’re going to meet someone that can help you grow your business in one way or another. Talk to your neighbors, clients, fellow small business owners – opportunities can appear anywhere!
There are also more obvious avenues that you can take when it comes to networking. You can attend trade shows in your region that are related to your industry or attend and even try to get a speaking engagement at conferences that are related to what your business does.
Networking can put you in the perfect position to run cross-promotions with other businesses who may be able to offer services and products that are complementary to yours. On top of networking, you’re going to have to do a little bit of research too.
Check out your local business ecosystem and identify other businesses that you might have something in common with first. Then make your introduction, get to know them and ask them if they would be willing to participate in a cross-promotion.
You can then brainstorm ideas that will be beneficial for both businesses.
There’s always room to grow.
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Revamp Your Storefront
Image is everything when it comes to attracting new customers. If you do have a physical location, make sure that it looks fantastic. Signage is very important. Make sure that your signs grab the attention of passers-by by making them colorful, big and bright.
Make sure that your storefront is consistent with the branding inside your establishment and do your best to make it appealing. Ask yourself, “would I be inclined to enter this store, restaurant or bar strictly based on what I can see from the street?”
When weather permits, bring some of the atmosphere from inside of your establishment out front. You can display some of your products outside of the store and interact with people on the streets to get them interested.
Connect with Your Community
Participating in community events is another great way to spread your brand locally and get everyone to notice you. Investing in a community sponsorship or donating to causes that are important to your community are both great ideas if you have the funds available.
Sponsor a local little league team and get your business’s name on their jerseys. Host a fundraiser at your place of work and hand out branded merchandise to people who participate.
Getting involved with the local community humanizes your business. Stop being an unknown, faceless business entity by allowing the community to get to know the people behind the business in order to create brand familiarity and loyalty.
Distribute Printed Materials
Using Google AdWords is great, but people still respond very well to printed materials. Physical advertising is still an excellent way to promote your businesses because flyers and pamphlets, especially well-designed and interesting ones, are a lot harder to ignore than banners and ads on the computer.
Another good idea to think about when distributing flyers and other printed material is adding coupons at the end that people can use to check you out. It’s a great way to influence that first step towards getting a customer into the door and making their first purchase from you.
Hand Out Business Cards
Distributing your business cards is still a very good offline marketing tactic for a couple of reasons. One is that it’s really cheap to make business cards. The other is that it provides you with an easy way to connect and stay in contact with people that you meet while networking.
You don’t even have to give them out personally in order to distribute your business cards. You can pin them to relevant bulletin boards and leave them in public places which you would expect people who might be interested in your business to frequent.
It’s a cheap and very versatile offline marketing tactic with tons of potential.
Try Viral Offline Marketing
Want to shake things up a bit and try to grab a bunch of attention quickly? Try some guerilla marketing tactics to “go viral” in your community. Getting your company to go viral is not something that’s only possible in the Internet realm, it can happen anywhere.
The point of these types of offline marketing promotions is to get a lot of people talking about you and your business in any way possible. If you think that you have a team that’s creative enough to work on a project like this, let them tackle it.
Do you have a company car or a delivery bike for your restaurant? Give it a paint job that makes it stand out. Organize a flash mob on the street or a live concert in your store to get people’s attention. Offline marketing tactics like this are only limited by the scope of your imagination.
Talk to Customers
The most important aspect of running a successful business is keeping your customers happy. But how do you know what your customers want and what makes them happy?
Why not just ask them directly?
Chat with customers whenever you can, whether on the phone or when you interact with them in person. Start the conversations off talking about anything and then try to slide in a couple of questions related to your business to get feedback.
You can even create customer surveys. Hand them out to your regular customers and even offer discounts to anyone who takes the time to fill the questionnaires out.
Send Actual Mail
There’s no denying that having a great email marketing strategy can be incredibly beneficial for your business. But that doesn’t mean that sending snail mail doesn’t work anymore.
Many people still prefer physical, offline marketing offers. Sending snail mail also feels a lot more personal and sincere, maybe simply because of the fact that the people receiving this sort of offline marketing material understand that it takes a little bit more time and care to send snail.
Sending business newsletters and special offers via mail also gives you another great opportunity to offer coupons and discounts that could potentially get more people to head out and check out your business to see what it’s all about.
Develop Your Staff
Having great people working for you can be one of your most important offline marketing assets. That’s why it never hurts to invest in developing your staff and allowing your best employees to grow professionally within your company.
The way your staff interacts with your customers and the amount of knowledge they have about your business, services and products are both very important when it comes to making a good impression on customers.
What you can do is make sure that your staff is prepared, knowledgeable and able to represent you and your business to the best of their abilities. Customers will rave to their family and friends about great customer service and positive word of mouth marketing is the absolute best type of marketing you can have.