The rise of social media, search engines and cheap web design has transformed the way small business owners and startups promote their products and services. Now, it’s entirely possible to set up and launch a business in less than 24 hours and bring in customers almost immediately.
However, while modern forms of marketing are on the rise, traditional “old-fashioned” techniques are still relied upon by small and large businesses around the world. Today, we’re looking into five traditional marketing techniques that can be just as effective as their digital alternatives.
Local newspaper advertising
As a small business owner, the chances are that you have a limited marketing budget, and advertising packages in newspapers and magazines can often be out of reach. However, putting an ad in a local newspaper or community newsletter can be a great way to find new customers.
Although readership of UK print continues to suffer thanks to the internet, its decline has slowed and many consumers – particularly the over 65 cohort – continue to enjoy local print media. If you run a bricks and mortar store, like a restaurant, for example, then you may want to consider running an advertisement in a local newspaper to increase sales.
Newspaper readers tend to spend longer reading material, including advertisements, to find coupons and deals. Running a special offer in your local paper, like a 2-for-1 voucher for a cafe, could be a great way to entice readers and get them to check out your services.
Local newspaper advertising can also be useful in improving – or maintaining – brand reputation in the local community. A business that appears in the same spot of a paper every week is more likely to be remembered by a reader than a business that has never placed an ad in the title.
Other benefits of newspaper advertising include reaching out to a targeted, local audience, the ability to promote your business around other content, like articles and news pieces, the option to ‘sponsor’ sections of the paper, such as television listings or sport, and the fact that you can make last-minute changes to your advertisement before it goes live, especially in daily papers.
Text message marketing
If you’ve ever ordered pizza from Domino’s or took out a new smartphone contract, then you’ll no doubt have received text message marketing from the company in question. Although social media and messaging apps have overtaken SMS, it’s still a popular marketing method.
Unlike email marketing or social media posts, 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of being received, so it’s an instantaneous marketing technique that puts your business and marketing message, quite literally, into the hands of your customers.
SMS marketing allows you to reach out to your existing customers and remind them that you exist. Many small businesses use text messages to alert users to limited-time offers.
And the good news is that SMS marketing is more affordable than you might think. You don’t have to send texts one by one from your smartphone; instead, you can import your messages into an online tool such as SendPulse and send bulk messages in just a minute.
Of course, the hard part is collecting mobile phone numbers from your customers in the first place. For online businesses, you can capture customer data when they buy your products and services, and for offline businesses, just ask for your customers’ number when they contact you. Remember to follow GDPR compliance if your business is based in Europe.
Leaflet dropping is one of the oldest tricks in the book, especially for businesses that are just starting out and low on funds, and it works. You can design a great-looking leaflet online in just an hour or so, and printing can be done from as little as £20 for 1,000 leaflets. It’s low-cost, low-risk, and depending on your niche, it usually generates some return on investment.
Whether you’re a Photoshop whizz or you struggle to write your own name in a straight line, Canva is one of the most popular online tools to create leaflets. This free-to-use software includes 100s of templates that can be used as a starting point for creating impactful artwork.
Before you go to print your leaflet, though, remember to follow our five-step checklist:
- Consistency: Does the poster or leaflet look consistent with your other branding? Have you used the same colours, logos and fonts as those that appear on your website?
- Spelling: Have you checked your leaflet for spelling and grammatical errors? If you’re unsure, ask for a friend or family member to cast over your work, or try Grammarly.
- Appearance: Does your leaflet look professional? As an outsider, would you be impressed with the design and content of the leaflet, or would you throw it in the bin?
- Value proposition: What does your leaflet offer? Are you running a promotion, or is it a general advertisement? Be clear about your proposition and add a clear call to action.
- Contact information: Have you included contact information on your leaflet? Make it as easy as possible for people to get in touch – don’t make them jump through hoops.
Once you’re happy with your leaflet, it’s time to get printing – and decide where you’re going to drop them. You can do this by hand with friends and family or hire a leaflet distribution company to do the work for you, however, this is often an expensive option and doesn’t guarantee results.
It may appear as though brand sponsorship has fallen out of fashion in recent times, but it’s still one of the most effective methods of promoting your business offline. Supporting a local cause, charity or event will not only put your brand in front of thousands of potential customers but also create positive publicity and encourage people to choose you over a competitor.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of sponsorship is that you can target a specific niche. If you run a childminding business, then you could sponsor a charity fundraising event for a local school or youth club, as the patrons are likely to be parents with young children.
Sponsorship can also drive sales with the right marketing strategy. A hobby craft company, for example, could sponsor a toy boat race and use the event to promote and sell their products. Just make sure that you agree to the right terms before you sign up for a sponsorship package.
And finally, sponsorship can help to distinguish your business ahead of others. Showing an ethical commitment to your community or industry can add significant value to your brand.
There are lots of ways that you can engage in brand sponsorship. If you want to sponsor a charity, for example, you could offer your products or services for free. That way, you’ll only be investing your time in the charity, and the positive PR that comes from the partnership should help to cover costs. Other opportunities include donating cash to a good cause, giving away prizes, holding your own fundraising events or offering free meeting space and equipment.
Face-to-face networking events
Whether you run a bricks and mortar store or you’re an online entrepreneur selling your time, networking is one of the most powerful ways to promote your business and find new customers.
Find local networking events, turn up and get talking to others about your business. It doesn’t matter if you go for six weeks without making any contacts or generating leads: the act of going to networking events on its own is enough to build your confidence and market your brand.
Face-to-face networking not only raise your profile and introduce more people to your business and services, but it helps you make new friends with like-minded business owners. As a small business owner, having others to talk with to let off steam and ask for advice is invaluable.
With the right attitude and careful selection of networking events, you can generate some serious leads for your business. 85% of all jobs are filled through networking, and if you work in the B2B sector and offer relevant services, you should find it easy to promote your wares.
According to data from Ryze, 1 in 4 businesses don’t engage in networking, so get ahead of the curve and attend a meetup as soon as possible to get ahead of your competitors.
Most networking groups allow multiple companies from the same sector to attend, but being the first will set you apart.
Digital marketing techniques such as pay-per-click, content marketing, social media and search engine optimisation continue to grow in popularity, but that doesn’t mean traditional techniques are no longer viable. The success of the options we have mentioned above will depend on the nature of your business and your target audience, so consider experimenting to see what works for you. If all else fails, our small business marketing blog is always here to help.