As a culture, we spent a great deal of time online. We get our news from social media channels, talk to friends on Skype, and use Twitter to discover new products and creators. It can seem like small businesses that spend money on print or offline advertising aren’t making their marketing dollar stretch like it could. But is that entirely true? The answer is no. The best and most versatile companies use a mix of online and offline advertising in order to make their business as successful as possible.
While the vast majority of Americans do use the Internet, there are still plenty of rural areas that don’t get good broadband access, and struggle to get online, as well as people who have chosen to avoid Internet technology, either as a lifestyle choice, because of accessibility issues, or because they’re older and prefer not to learn a new technology.
Wondering which offline advertising methods are still worth the payments?
Advertising in industry specific trade journals
While many different print media outlets are suffering as more and more customers transition to online news gathering, there are other, very specific outlets which continue to do well. Neighborhood specific papers, trade journals specific to your industry, and ads on public transit, billboards, and in the yellow pages, can still be avenues by which you get customers.
If your town hosts any kind of regular event, from a farmer’s market to an annual celebration, you should consider whether or not it’s an event that will attract your audience. Not all events have crossover; if you’re marketing a B2B service, sponsoring a parade isn’t necessarily the perfect move. Getting involved in a farmer’s market, however, might be. You need to carefully analyze what visibility you’ll get with any event sponsorships, but ultimately, having your name associated with a positive, well received event will be good for your business.
Flyers, Brochures, and Booklets
On the Internet, white papers and downloadable ebooks are a great way to present customers with information that helps develop you as a content leader in their minds, showing your expertise and giving them convenient takeaways that let them develop their understanding of the industry.
White papers and ebooks, of course, developed from businesses wanting to continue to use their analog equivalents of flyers, brochures, and booklets. Waiting rooms and coffee shops are still full of brochures, flyers, and pamphlets that may be of interest to those who are a captive audience. As digital printing technology has driven down the costs of producing high quality booklets and pamphlets, it only makes sense for businesses to make the most of these technologies.
Radio stations still need to fill their ad time in order to stay online, and with many stations offering the ability to listen online, there’s a good argument still to be made for investing in radio advertising. If you decide to do this, however, make sure your ad sounds positive and professional.
If you have a company where service providers are driving around town, it only makes sense to pay for branding on their vehicles. This is the kind of advertising where you really just want to get your name to stick in people’s brains, so that when they need a flooring installation, lawn care maintenance, or moving help, they are more likely to pick your ad out of the phone book.
What should my company’s mix be?
There isn’t a clear guideline. Any business that has a physical location that customers can go to should have at least some physical advertising; any small business that uses a website and takes online orders should have at least some online or social advertising. From there, deciding what your company’s mix is going to be has to do with many different factors, including:
- What’s the rest of your industry doing? If everyone in your town has abandoned ads in the yellow pages, it might be worth putting one back in yourself. If you’re the only attractive company there, you might get a bigger share of the business.
- How is Internet access in your town? If you live in one of the many rural communities where good broadband access is still several years away, and your business relies on local customers, you may want to maintain only a minimal online presence.
If you’re not sure where to go with your advertising mix, your local chamber of commerce can be a great resource for understanding the local implications of focusing more online or offline. It’s also work connecting with an industry mentor to get a better understanding of what specific needs your industry can fulfill.