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Back to Basics: 10 Offline Marketing Tactics That Still Work in Today’s Digital World

Sean Peek
Sean Peek
business.com Contributing Writer
Updated Jan 31, 2022

The explosion of digital marketing has opened up opportunities in offline channels that can mean major returns for your business.

There’s no denying that online marketing – social media, email marketing and content marketing – are some of the most effective and affordable ways to attract customers to your business. Intuitive interfaces coupled with complex algorithms allow you to narrow your prospects with just a few clicks of the mouse. 

For many marketers, this convenience comes at a steep price. Competition is fierce online, leaving most advertisers priced out in the bidding war for prospective customers’ attention.

Whenever there’s a rush to a new channel of media, it creates an opportunity for the savvy marketer. With less competition, a dollar will stretch much further, and there’s less of a struggle to grab your prospects’ already overloaded attention.

Top offline marketing strategies

Here are 10 offline marketing tactics that work in today’s digital world.

Direct mail 

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 with using physical letters tends to be the perceived cost of implementation. A closer examination of the data reveals the investment is well worth the price.

A recent study by the ANA/DMA showed that direct mail’s response rate is at least five times higher than that of any digital marketing medium. 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 just 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. 

TipTip: Remember the first goal of direct mail is to get your piece read. Test envelope color and size; handwrite the address and use a real stamp (no meters) for a more personal touch.

Postcards

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 U.K.-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.

TipTip: 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 easily be offset if enough business owners get involved. You can easily 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.

TipTip: 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 roughly 2,500 telemarketing firms in the United States alone. This is because they are still effective today. The most critical step for making telemarketing work is getting trained on how to do it correctly, or outsourcing it to a company that knows what it’s doing. 

TipTip: 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. In 2016, UberButtons created custom buttons with the phrase “Make America SEO great again” and gave them away at a conference. These buttons went viral on social media, which created leads for the business.

TipTip: 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 actually 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.

FYIFYI: 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 advertising reaches 88% of users 18 years and older. 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. 

Did you know?Did you know? You don’t have to advertise on traditional FM radio alone. Podcasts, satellite radio and streaming platforms – including Spotify – are great options for advertisements.

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. And these group coupons are often low cost.

The biggest con 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.

TipTip: 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’s 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.

TipTip: Nail your elevator pitch, and make it memorable so those you network with can easily repeat it.

Conferences

Businesses and organizations are starting to host conferences again, which is creating a great opportunity for marketing your small business offline. Conferences offer 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.

TipTip: Can’t find a conference to attend? Collaborate with business partners to create your own event, and invite prospective clients and industry leaders.

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

What is offline marketing?

Before moving forward with any of these strategies, it is important to have a clear understanding of exactly what offline marketing is. 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 printed marketing. While digital marketing has become vital for modern businesses – U.S. digital advertising spending is projected to reach nearly $279 billion by 2024 – the offline marketing industry is still growing. In fact, offline media in the United States is projected to reach $175.9 billion in spending by the end of this year.

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 constantly in front of their phones or computers, and on social media. 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 really 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.

Ryan Stewart contributed to the writing and research in this article.

Image Credit:

Weedezign / Getty Images

Sean Peek
Sean Peek
business.com Contributing Writer
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.