Going Analog: Adding Offline Tactics to Your Small Biz Marketing Mix

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Although I specialize in digital marketing for solos and small biz owners, I frequently remind my clients: “Don’t forget the analog world!”

What I mean by that: Offline matters just as much as online, in many cases (if not most).

Why Digital Marketing Alone Isn’t Enough

For one thing, all of your targeted prospects may not be online.

It’s easy to forget in this day and age that there are still folks out there who don’t have internet access. There are still others who have access, but just don’t live online as many of us seem to.

Another reason that digital-only may not be sufficient for you is that digital contacts necessarily implicate a certain loss of the personal touch. A carefully crafted email newsletter or blog post may go far, but how much farther would a handwritten personal note take you?

Yet a third scenario that might require analog marketing efforts is the situation where you’re facing a glutted niche. In such cases, always with yet another competent provider right around the digital corner, incorporating some offline marketing tactics can help you easily stand out in a crowded field and help you differentiate yourself in your prospects’ minds.

Finally, if you have any designs at all on targeting a local segment of your market, it will look downright odd if you aren’t pursuing offline and more personal avenues of marketing.

There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to marketing any small business. But relying solely on digital means to market yourself is like attempting to sail across the ocean in a rowboat by yourself. You might make it — but how much easier would the trip be if you had a little help?

Eight Proven “Analog” Marketing Tactics to Try

If you’re intrigued by the prospect of adding or beefing up the offline component of your marketing plan, consider the following suggestions, all of which have been tried by various Stage Presence clients with some success:

  • Local Media Buys: Advertising is a tricky thing to get right. But in smaller, specialized publications and radio markets, it could bring results to justify the high cost. Know your local market intimately before you try this route! 
  • Direct Mail: For all the eye-rolling and hand-wringing over so-called junk mail, there’s a reason direct mail is still around: It WORKS. 
  • Meet the “X” Day: On the other end of the financial investment spectrum is this little gem of an idea that works especially well for service providers. Simply schedule a long afternoon at a local coffee shop, and offer free fifteen-minute consultations and a free cup of coffee for every person who signs up. Talk to the coffee shop manager in advance and secure a discount on the coffee! 
  • The AIR Interview: AIR stands for “Advice, Information, and Referrals.” The idea behind this approach is a one-on-one lunch interview with a potential prospect, wherein you reassure the interviewee you’re not marketing yourself at all — you just want (as the name suggests) Advice, Information and Referrals. The trick here is that you cannot market yourself during the interview. A little harder these days to get busy prospects to agree to this than it used to be, but if you do it right, you can make some wonderful contacts that can be later developed appropriately. 
  • The Personal Note: One of the least expensive options and one that just about every solo and small biz owner could benefit from. Some of my clients have made this a permanent, regular part of their marketing plans by setting a goal of sending five personal notes a week to different contacts they’d like to develop. Get some high-quality notes, pre-printed with your name and number. If you want to boost the networking aspect of this tactic, do some research – congratulate the recipient on a promotion or recent accomplishment, or enclose a printout of an article you know they’ll find of interest. 
  • Chamber of Commerce: Does require a membership fee, but it’s a great way of helping your business become part of the business community in your city or town, and confers a number of benefits that can help with professional development and marketing. 
  • Workshops and Lunch & Learn Lectures: Schedule a lunch-time hour during the work week, and prepare a short 20 minute informational lecture on some aspect of what you do. Host it in a local restaurant’s event room, if possible, and make it brown bag. Don’t charge for the event, but make sure attendees have some kind of swag to take with them with your contact info preprinted on it (pens, notepads, etc.). The key here is to make it helpful for attendees. Nobody wants to pay for their own lunch to listen to a 20-minute commercial. 
  • Volunteer/Charity Sponsorship & Support: If there’s a local cause you support, why not have your business support it too? Be aware that if it revolves around a contentious issue, you may risk losing part of your targeted market if they disagree with its viewpoint. 


Photo credit: clogozm via photopin cc

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