Is offline marketing dead?

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It’s easy to get so caught up in social media, PPC advertising, content marketing, and SEO that you forget about the staple offline marketing methods and mediums. However, despite the widespread use of online marketing, these offline tactics still have a place.

The Value and Appeal of Offline Marketing

According to Joshua Saxon of IE School of Human Sciences & Technology, the average consumer is exposed to as many as 10,000 brand messages per day. This includes visual, auditory, and experiential brand messages. Some marketers say the number is much lower, but they’re usually referring to the number of brand messages we actually pick up on.

For example, Jay Walker-Smith, president of the marketing firm Yankelovich, believes most people experience direct exposure to as many as 5,000 messages per day – a number that has spiked rather significantly since people experienced just 500 per day in the 1970s.

“It seems like the goal of most marketers and advertisers nowadays is to cover every blank space with some kind of brand logo or a promotion or an advertisement,” Walker-Smith said. 

To a large degree, this desire to fill space with branding messages has become an online obsession. Social media, search engines, blogs, ecommerce sites, email marketing, eBooks, webinars…the list of places where brands invest in online marketing is getting bigger by the year. But just because brands are flocking towards these online mediums, doesn’t mean traditional offline methods are ineffective. In fact, the argument could be made that they’re more effective than ever before.

Online marketing may seem like the only way to go, but businesses shouldn’t assume it’s the only way to reach their customers. Believe it or not, they’re fatigued by all the digital messaging they’re exposed to around the clock.

“One of the biggest mistakes a marketer can make is to frame a campaign in terms of what they themselves want to achieve,” Saxon explains. “Of course, it’s essential to have goals as part of any actionable plan, but thinking of things exclusively in terms of your company’s goals and ignoring what the customer wants can lead to bad practices.”

What do customers want? In most cases, the answer is relevancy. They want relevant brand messages that hit them in timely moments. Online marketing can do this, but so can offline marketing. And in a world of fake news and clickbait, there’s something appealing about the tangibility of offline marketing.

Leading Offline Marketing Methods

Now is a great time to invest in offline marketing. As more brands focus their efforts on online mediums, it creates less noise offline, which allows savvy marketers to sweep in and get their message in front of their audience with much greater ease.

In terms of what works in 2018, here are a few of the most effective methods:

  • Flyers

Sometimes simple is best. Even in 2018, flyers are one of the best offline marketing options brands have at their disposal. Not only are they extremely cost-effective – 1,500 double-sided color flyers cost less than $200 – but they’re also practical. When placed in high traffic areas, like shopping malls, college campuses, and subway stations, they get a lot of exposure.

The key to a good flyer is to make it engaging and simple. It needs to be engaging enough that it draws people in from far away, but simple enough that people don’t feel overwhelmed or confused. Much like a landing page, a singular call-to-action is best.

  • Networking Events

Marketing doesn’t always need to end in an immediate sale. Sometimes there’s more value in getting the brand’s name out there and establishing a reputation.

“Find an event related to your industry and prepare an educational and meaningful speech. This leaves a lasting impression with peers who share a position in your industry and creates a visual representation of your business,” marketer Patrick Shock advises. “If you don’t feel you have enough industry authority to deliver a speech to peers, it’s still helpful to attend the events. Introduce yourself and network with others. The relationships you build could help move the marketing dial elsewhere.”

  • Business Cards

For service businesses, a business card is one of the better items. But aside from designing a compelling business card, the key is to know when and how to distribute them.

Business cards shouldn’t be handed out without rhyme or reason. Instead, they should be handed out after having a meaningful conversation or interaction. This forges a connection and makes it more likely that the card will lead to a follow up contact.

  • Product Demos

One of the biggest shortcomings of online marketing is that customers are unable to touch, feel, and interact with the products that are being pushed on them. In offline marketing, this isn’t an issue.

For brands that are marketing new and innovative products, demonstrations – whether on a busy street or at a tradeshow – can help customers see value. They’re memorable, effective, and high returning.

Moving Beyond the Screen

Clearly, online marketing is important in today’s marketplace. It would be foolish to assume otherwise. But for brands that don’t have unlimited budgets and are looking for ways to enhance exposure and engagement, offline marketing is something that should be pursued as well. Whether it’s a grassroots method like circulating flyers in a highly populated area, or a hands-on product demonstration at a trade show, options abound for brands that are willing to roll up their sleeves and get back to the basics.

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