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Offline marketing strategies: The good, the bad and the ugly

Offline marketing strategies: The good, the bad and the ugly

Last updated 12th Apr 2022
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Offline marketing isn’t dead. In fact, there are many traditional marketing strategies that are just as effective today as they were decades ago. These are still worth investing in alongside online marketing. 

There are also a few marketing strategies that have become defunct due to advancements in online marketing. These are the strategies that rightfully should be avoided.

On top of these good and bad strategies, there are also a number of ‘ugly’ strategies: these may or may not work depending on how you implement them. 

So just which offline marketing tactics are still worth pursuing? And which are best avoided? This post offers a breakdown of all major offline marketing strategies – including the good, the bad and the ugly – so that you know exactly where to focus your marketing efforts.

The Good:

Networking events

Networking is still one of the best ways to attract new clients. Simply by meeting new people and talking to them, you can build new leads. By connecting with fellow business owners, you can agree to promote each other’s companies. Other events may directly lead to you meeting clients or people who know potential clients. 

What are some examples of networking events? You could try hosting or attending a seminar, you could join a local business social group, you could organize a launch party or you could get involved in hosting community events. Pretty much any event that allows you to meet new people can be a chance for networking. 

Business cards

Business cards are the quickest and most convenient way to exchange contact details offline. You can hand them out to people at networking events, post them through people’s doors or even leave them in strategic places such as waiting rooms. On top of including your phone number or company address, you can also include your email address or QR codes to your website and social media pages in order to convert customers digitally (this makes them a great form of hybrid marketing – a mix of offline and online marketing).

Business cards are very cheap to create and print off. This makes it a worthwhile investment – in some cases, you may only need to generate a single customer for it to pay off. 

Promotional products

Promotional products are free items that can be handed out at marketing events or given to customers alongside purchases. A few examples include bags, pens, baseball caps, yo-yos, umbrellas and drink flasks. Because such products have a practical use, they can continuously remind users of your brand – they may encourage someone who attended your marketing event to make a purchase at a later stage or they may encourage a previous customer to use your company again.

Promotional products are generally pretty cheap to produce making them worthwhile. You can find companies online that produce these products.

Radio advertising

Radio adverts are very effective at building brand recognition and generating leads. A lot of people still listen to the radio at work or in the car – as a result, they have a large reach. 

While not cheap to produce and distribute, radio adverts can pay off and there are clever ways of reducing the cost. This guide offers more information about creating radio adverts. It’s worth noting that audio adverts can also be targeted online through online radio stations and music streaming platforms – they’re not solely an offline strategy. 

The Bad:

Cold calling

Cold calling is generally unpleasant for the caller and the recipient. Studies show that it’s increasingly becoming less effective. This is for a variety of reasons – one major reason cold calling is becoming less effective is because modern technology now allows people to tell who is calling them and so fewer recipients actually pick up. In some places around the world, certain types of cold calling are even banned.

Some skilled salesmen may still be able to sell over the phone, however it’s usually after a lot of failed attempts. Making phone calls costs money and often it’s a marketing strategy that results in a loss. You’re much better off using emails or finding ways to encourage inbound calls

Phonebook advertising

Very few customers pick up a phonebook any more when looking for a company to use. Search engines like Google and Bing have pretty much taken over. Many phone book companies have died or have gone online – there are only a few still in circulation.

Unless your customers are largely aged 60+, you won’t convert many customers via phone book advertising. Even then, you may not make back the money that it costs to run a phonebook advert. SEO is a much better strategy for pouring your money into.

Physical newsletters

Newsletters are still an effective way to keep existing customers engaged – however the majority of companies now send them via email rather than via snail mail. This is because emails are cheaper, faster and more eco-friendly. 

If you still have a physical mailing list, consider taking measures to convert this into an email mailing list. You’ll save a lot of time and money, while reducing your carbon footprint. 

Newspaper ads

The number of people that read a physical newspaper has been dwindling for the last couple  decades. You’re unlikely to reach many people through a newspaper advert for this reason.

Newspaper adverts can be quite expensive and you may not make your money back. Online PPC adverts are a much better way to build brand exposure and generate leads.

The Ugly:

Flyers

A popular marketing strategy is to hand out flyers. Flyers are cheap to produce and can display lots of information including photographs, contact details and a brief description of your business. Unfortunately, flyers can be easily ignored and handing them out requires time, whether you’re posting them through letterboxes or handing them out to passers-by on the street.

If you do decide to market with flyers, you need to have a clear strategy as to where to target your flyers. Posting them through random doors or handing them out to random strangers on the street likely won’t get you any customers – you’re better off targeting specific buildings or going to specific places where your target market is likely to hang out. Make sure that flyers are professionally produced and that they contain all the right information to help secure leads (it’s worth adding QR codes to your site and your email address to help secure online leads). 

Billboards & posters

Billboards and posters aren’t as effective as they used to be. The introduction of smartphones has definitely had an impact — people are more likely to be looking at their phone when walking somewhere or taking the bus, resulting in them barely noticing billboards and posters around them. 

That said, a well-placed, well-designed poster or billboard can still be effective. Finding ways to modernise your posters and billboards by integrating digital technology can be one way of encouraging more leads. This could include using a digital video billboard or using a traditional paper poster but adding QR codes to link up to your online marketing. When locating your billboard or poster, think about places where your target consumer is likely to hang out. It’s worth noting that billboards are much more expensive to produce and display and therefore require a much more careful strategy in order to pay off (you can read information here on how to successfully use billboard advertising).

Trade shows

Running a stall or booth at a trade show can be an effective way to build customers and network with other business owners. However, most people end up making a loss from trade shows because of just how expensive they are to take part in — on top of renting a stall or booth, you’ll likely have to spend money on banners and marquees and free giveaways.

For a trade show to be profitable, you’ll need to convert lots of customers. It’s often a case of going big or going home – by hosting competitions, demonstrating your product, using eye-catching displays and using creative free giveaways, you can create a buzz and get customers seriously interested.

Magazines and brochures

Some companies like to produce their own brochures and magazines for displaying products or reporting company news. Websites have pretty much replaced the need for magazines and brochures, however there are still some instances where a magazine or brochure can be effective. 

Brochures can be great for placing in waiting rooms – a car dealership may decide to use one to show off its range of cars or a tattoo studio could use one to show off various designs a bit like a portfolio. Company magazines are much better suited to larger companies due to costing more time and money to make (especially if there are going to be regular new issues) and can similarly be placed in waiting rooms.

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