There’s no doubt that the plethora of digital content creation tools have made life easier – and marketing more affordable – for the small business owner. As technology continues to evolve the way we communicate to prospects, many businesses have considered online marketing to be all that they need. But there are still plenty of ways in which good old fashioned print can play a role in promoting your business – and sometimes, it’s the best place for a small business to start.
You may be wondering why to use print in your business promotions at all. Despite the fact that almost everything is on the Internet these days, print is still effective, especially when it’s personalized and local. Online and digital marketing have their place, but they don’t completely replace viable uses for print. Whether you have a storefront or an online-only presence, here are a few reasons to use print in your marketing mix:
- People still like to touch and feel physical items.
- Engaging someone with look and feel makes it more memorable.
- Print can be personalized and feel more sincerely engaging than digital.
- In a day and age where we are bombarded with information online, print can stand out more than ever – receiving a unique print item can surprise your audience, making you more memorable.
- Print can be more immediately impactful. Opening a local store and using online-only channels can be costly in order to reach such a narrowly defined audience. Print can offer more immediate impact at times.
- Print lasts longer. Consumers see an online offer and have to either use it at that moment or remember to bookmark it and come back to it later. A printed flyer or postcard, on the other hand, may sit on their kitchen counter or hang on their refrigerator, reminding them to visit your business (online or off).
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Now that you know a few reasons to use print, here are some print ideas to try in your business:
- Greeting cards. Do you remember the last time you received a hand written “Thank you” or a Birthday greeting that wasn’t on Facebook? Sure, it’s easy and less time consuming to send an email, but when you take the time to hand write a “Thank you for shopping with us” postcard or a personalized Birthday card, you’re showing true gratitude and the desire to maintain a personal relationship with your customer. If you want to amp up the impression, personalize the greeting card with an image of the customer, your store or something you know they care about (sports team, political candidate, etc.) and include a “next time you buy” offer.
- Stickers. Whether it’s a bumper sticker or a window decal for the location and hours of your business, stickers can be used for multiple purposes and feel like a little extra gift for your customers, too. Consider getting creative – think of a saying or image that would make your customers laugh or evoke strong emotion from them. Use that as the sticker’s main focus, with a small URL or other identifier for your business.
- Sticky Notes. Personally, I still love them – and despite the fact that I work in tech all day long, I use them daily. I use them as extra reminders that I can quickly throw in the car on the way to the store, or to jot a quick note down while on the phone and not in front of a computer. I recommend branding them with your business name and identifier, and giving them as a thank you or tradeshow gift. When I receive them, they sit right on my desk and I see the brand’s logo all day long.
- Calendars. Yes, everyone has a calendar on their smartphone and computer. But today’s option to personalize print calendars can make them more fun and engaging than their digital counterparts. If you’re a small local business, personalize the months with images of your city, and mark important local events – parades, football games, memorial runs, etc. – in each month. Doing so can also instill a strong sense of community and support for local small businesses like yours.
- Giveaways and gifts. Print doesn’t only include paper items. You can print your logo, URL or tag line on just about anything: mugs, glasses, clothing, pens, chargers and more. Going to a tradeshow? You’ll definitely want to hand out something fun and unique – just make sure it’s also useful so that your impression lasts longer. During the holidays, consider giving your most loyal customers (or any customer during a certain timeframe) a gift such as an ornament or candleholder with your brand on it. These are gifts that will be used time and time again.
- Signage. I walked into a nail salon the other day and a new owner had taken over. I had no idea that the business was changing hands and I was shocked. I noticed that it was quiet in the salon and began to ask the owner what she had done to promote the fact that they had reopened for business. She told me she had opened a Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter. I’m on those channels daily but would have never gone looking for “nail salon” in my town. I drive by at least six a day so I don’t need to research online. In this instance of a small, local and commoditized business, she would have been better off starting with investing in local print: newspaper advertisement, signage on the street and in her window, and perhaps even flyers in mailboxes.
At the end of the day, the best marketing campaigns mix both online and offline initiatives. One channel feeds the other – but you have to understand what works best for your type of business and location. For an online only business, perhaps digital channels would be the place to start. For a small, local business like the nail salon, more traditional methods would be ideal to capture initial interest – digital channels could follow to maintain engagement once a customer has been captured. Understand how print can play a role in promoting your business, and try different mixes throughout the year