It’s not news. Traditional media is on the decline, and the whole world is fast becoming connected on the Internet. Print media has been dying a slow and painful death. Less and less young people bother tuning in to broadcast radio and TV. Digital ad spending in the US grew 16.6% in 2012, going over the $37 billion mark in that year.
And yet despite fewer viewers, there are still more people consuming media through television than any other platform including computers and smartphones. Newspapers are also seen as being on par with Twitter and blogs when it comes to advertising effectiveness. Although listeners are migrating to the Internet for their music fix, radio as a medium for both playing music and advertising is still going strong according to the same TargetSpot study.
Bridging the Gap
Instead of thinking the decision is an “either-or situation”, you, the savvy small business owner, should look to capitalize on the strengths of both online and traditional marketing.
Small businesses with brick-and-mortar stores already have the distinct advantages of tapping into the local market and building consumer trust easier through their physical presence and face-to-face communication.
It’s just a matter of solving the problems of budgeting and growth by taking advantage of the cost-effectiveness and wider reach of online marketing methods.
Sticking to Tradition
You probably don’t have the resources of an enterprise to purchase ads with national coverage, and it’s not what you should be aiming for anyway through traditional mass media. Stick to your roots, and spend on local ads instead if you want the exposure from authoritative platforms such as TV, radio and newspapers.
Don’t forget about the more affordable options. Hand out flyers in high-traffic areas to spread more information about your business. Send product catalogues and old-school newsletters to your customers through direct mail to leverage their loyalty, as they are already interested in your products. Put up compelling signage for your store, as it is the most effective and least expensive form of advertising according to the US Small Business Administration.
Whichever option you take, you’ll want to continue engaging your target audience once they are out of sight by leaving them with call-to-actions that direct them to your online channels. Include your business’ website address and social media pages in all of your promotional materials.
Blogging is considered the most effective inbound marketing method according to MarketingSherpa’s SEO Marketing Benchmark Survey. Take the initiative in writing your business’ blog, and use your knowledge of local customers’ problems to provide real answers to real issues in your posts. Building local authority online also makes your site more visible in search engine results pages for local search terms.
Engage them in social media through contests where you can ask them to write blog posts about your quality service or to take cool pictures of them hanging out in your store with your products. Share their stories on your social media accounts, and you can print out their testimonies to display in your store’s bulletin boards and window ads.
QR codes are the perfect combination of offline and online marketing, especially now that mobile device use is rapidly growing and QR code scans have increased within the past year. Include them in your traditional ads to direct your customers to online content, and offer exclusive promos to constantly interact with your target audience. You can track their performance by integrating unique URLs to your site within the codes so you know which of your physical promotional materials are converting.
Synergizing Offline and Online
Continuity is critical in making both marketing arms work in tandem. Your brand’s messaging should be the same in all platforms. Settle on a logo, a color theme, and the tone of your copy so everything is uniform. A consistent message broadcast to your target audience in multiple channels maximizes your expanding reach.
You will have to spend a little more than usual to effectively communicate offline and online, but the sum of your efforts will be greater than its parts as you reap the benefits of a synergized marketing strategy built on good old customer relationships and powered by modern technology.
Writer, blogger (it’s different), and now content marketing specialist-in-progress, Joseph Berida is all about making great content. He also loves to talk about video games in Kambyero. Follow him on Twitter @ohthatjoseph.