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Back to Basics: 9 Offline Marketing Tactics That Still Work in Today’s Digital World

Updated Oct 11, 2023

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It’s easy to discount offline marketing tactics as digital becomes the standard across industries, but don’t be fooled — offline tactics can still be effective in our digital-first world. Even the most successful digital marketing campaign can and should be accompanied by traditional marketing methods for the best possible results.

What is offline marketing?

Offline marketing is any method you choose to advertise your business outside of the digital landscape. This includes traditional media like television, billboard ads, radio and print marketing. While digital marketing has become vital for modern businesses — with the digital advertising market set to increase about $697 billion by 2030 — the offline marketing industry is still growing, according to Prophecy Market Insights. Statista reports that by the end of 2023, worldwide annual spending on traditional advertising is expected to increase to nearly $306 billion, up from 2022’s $304.9 billion.

Using this type of media, you’ll likely find yourself paying a cost per mile (CPM) or cost per thousand advertising impressions, of $140 to $1,300 for print ads while digital ads will have a CPM ranging from $2 to $12.

While many advertisers have been focusing more on digital marketing, you’ll want to consider offline media outlets as well. Your company should focus on having an offline marketing strategy to ensure you are reaching your target audience. Some of the people you’re trying to reach may not be online as much as others. In other cases, the products or services you’re offering have no online presence and, therefore, are better off being marketed offline.

How offline marketing tactics support online efforts

Building brand awareness

With so many voices vying for attention online, it can help your company to build its brand awareness through more traditional marketing ventures. By having an offline marketing strategy, advertisers can reach users who are not in front of their phones or computers and on social media constantly. It also can make certain brands stand out from competitors when they have a multimedia advertising campaign.

Reaching your customers

Your organization’s target audience may not be present entirely in one medium. Some can be found on social media, while others may be offline reading the newspaper. It’s important for both your business and advertisers to think about who the target is and how to reach them. By marketing to audiences through different channels, advertisers have a better chance of reaching their entire intended audience rather than just one portion of it.

Making your business look tangible

Some customers can be skeptical if your business seems to only exist online. Many of them want some sort of proof that the business they are partnering with is real and will provide the product or services they are purchasing. By having a footprint outside of the online world, you show prospective customers your company is reputable.

Top offline marketing strategies

Here are nine offline marketing tactics that work in today’s digital world.

Direct mail and postcards

In a world where technology seems to be changing by the hour, it may come as a shock that one of the most consistent methods of marketing is still a good old-fashioned letter delivered by the post office. That’s right, snail mail still works. The biggest objection to using physical letters tends to be the perceived cost of implementation. However, a closer examination of the data reveals the investment is well worth the price: according to the 2023 State of Direct Mail, 74 percent of marketers reported that direct mail delivers the highest ROI across the channels they use.

There’s no spam filter to get through and no one clicks the Delete or Send to Spam buttons, either. Lists can be procured from a broker or you can mail geographically. If the offer has any interest, it will be placed on the refrigerator, corkboard or review pile and has a good chance of being repeatedly seen.

This gives your offer more exposure, without being invasive, since email and text offers can easily get lost in the recipients’ inboxes.

Piggybacking off the sales letter, postcard marketing is an effective way to blast your advertisement directly into a targeted market and at a low cost to boot. With the post office’s Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) service, you can take advantage of a bulk rate without a permit, while selecting the ZIP codes you want to target.

Predator Nutrition, a United Kingdom-based supplement company, ran a campaign by mailing holiday cards with exclusive discount codes. It leveraged its existing customer base and received three times the return on its investment.

Did You Know?Did you know

If you go the EDDM route, do it the co-op way by using a 9 x 12 oversized card while sharing the costs with other businesses. Mailing rates are the same and the cost to produce them will be offset easily if enough business owners get involved. You can also share a card with nine other companies and still have plenty of room to make your business stand out.

Billboards

Billboards are still prime real estate. They are also one of the most misused forms of media, which is why you see constant turnover on them. The best way to use billboards is to make a no-brainer offer. For instance, you can make similar offers that are relevant to your services: buy one get one oil change, two for $10 pizza or free teeth whitening. Even one of the most recognizable brands worldwide – McDonald’s – uses billboards. Keep it simple.

For the safety of drivers, get a vanity URL and phone number that are easy to remember. For example, instead of DrBraunsteinDDS.com, use BestDentistInCleveland.com.

Telemarketing

There are 34,013 telemarketing and call center businesses operating in the United States as of 2023, a 2.3-percent increase from 2022, according to IBISWorld. This is on trend with the number of telemarketing and call center businesses increasing by an average of 2.3 percent per year since 2018. Additionally, the industry has many key indicators that suggest it will continue to be essential to the broader economy.

The most critical step for making telemarketing work is getting trained on how to do it correctly or outsourcing it to a call center that knows what it’s doing. If you do choose to hire a telemarketer, insist on reviewing random calls that the marketing group is making to ensure they are not misrepresenting your company.

Swag

Swag (free stuff or “stuff we all get”) is a tried-and-true tactic to get others to promote your business for you. Swag like customized T-shirts, cups and pens are not only great giveaways at conferences or events but are great to send directly to influencers.

If you plan to give swag to industry influencers, do your research first. Find out what they’re interested in and build it around them. This is the best way to get others to wear your gear or promote it through their channels.

TV (cable and broadcast)

Despite the big online video push, TV isn’t going anywhere soon. Various streaming options only ensure consumers’ attention – especially for sporting events. Television is the most expensive option on this list; however, it can still be reasonable once you get past production costs and start making profits.

FYIDid you know

Producing your own commercials today is easier than ever because equipment has become more affordable over the years. What’s even easier? Hiring someone else to do it. There is a high level of competition for filming commercials, so the investment will be reasonably priced.

Radio

According to a study by Nielsen, radio reaches a whopping 91 percent of adults aged 18 and over, the highest percentage of any other platform. At 90 percent, only live and time-shifted television comes close to reaching such a large portion of the majority-age population. What’s more, radio leads all forms of audio outreach in the amount of time listened daily for adults over 18. However, you don’t have to advertise on traditional FM radio alone. Podcasts, satellite radio and streaming platforms ― including Spotify ― are great options for advertisements.

According to the late Fred Catona, who is referred to as the “king of direct response radio,” the trick is to use a maximum of 10 words for your radio campaign. He would recommend repeating these 10 words, which worked for companies like Priceline and FreeCreditReport.com.

Don’t forget to include your company’s phone number and website multiple times in the radio advertisement. Similar to billboards, your phone number and URL address should be easy to remember.

Coupon mailers

There are pros and cons to using group coupon mailers, such as Valpak, Super Saver, Mega Savings and Money Mailer. One advantage is that many potential clients are familiar with the envelope, which often leads them to view your offer. These group coupons are often low cost.

The biggest drawback is, depending on your business, there could be multiple competitors in the same mailer. You don’t want too many options influencing your prospective customer when they are considering making a purchase.

Simple offers are key to effective coupon mailers. Be sure to include your company’s website and if you have an app, so you also get the benefit of digital advertising.

TipBottom line

Go through the offers in a recent mailer to the areas you are going to target. Don’t be discouraged if it includes several coupons for the same industry ― as long as there are only one or two competitors.

Networking groups

There’s no better way for patrons to be introduced to the product or service you provide than through personal introduction. A direct referral is the best way to gain new customers for your business, especially from a current or past client. The best referrals come from people who know, like and trust you.

When someone gets to see you in person, it goes much further than a webpage, video or LinkedIn profile. People also love to help others ― not only their friends but a reliable service provider.

Networking groups also give you the opportunity to develop a list of people you can refer to with confidence, which makes you even more valuable in your customers’ eyes. [Related article: How to Network on LinkedIn Like a Pro]

When networking in person, you’ll want to prepare your “elevator pitch.” It should be short, sweet and to the point — ideally 30 to 60 seconds — grabbing the listener’s interest and leading them to ask for more. An elevator pitch should include a brief introduction of yourself and your company, an explanation of the problem your product or service solves and why your solution is unique or superior to alternatives.

Conferences

Conferences offer a great opportunity for marketing your small business offline. Conferences provide a place where you can meet like-minded individuals, distribute print materials, network with other companies and, in some cases, become a speaker at the event. Speaking opportunities are one of the best ways to acquire leads and with conferences having such a large audience, it’s a great chance to market and network.

Even if you’re having success with online marketing, it will only grow your business further to consider the above offline marketing tools.

Danielle Fallon-O’Leary and Ryan Stewart contributed to this article.

Sean Peek
Contributing Writer at business.com
Sean Peek has written more than 100 B2B-focused articles on various subjects including business technology, marketing and business finance. In addition to researching trends, reviewing products and writing articles that help small business owners, Sean runs a content marketing agency that creates high-quality editorial content for both B2B and B2C businesses.
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