With the advent of social channels, virtual workplaces and mobile customers, traditional marketing initiatives can sometimes seem stale or irrelevant. But the truth of the matter is that the best marketing campaigns combine some of the ever tried and true best marketing practices with new inbound methods, social media channels and digital communications.
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Sometimes businesses confuse a channel with a campaign. That is, today we have many new channels on which to communicate – Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Snapchat, Periscope, Instagram and more. These are simply communications tools, not that much different than tools of the past such as email, phone, or even fax.
I always like to say that just because someone is able to use a channel doesn’t mean they are good at communicating. It’s the way in which you communicate that truly matters. That being said, both old and new ways of communicating can still be valuable for marketing your small business.
Here are some examples of more traditional marketing initiatives that, when communicated through new channels, can still deliver a strong marketing return.
- Events – while tradeshow booths are probably only relevant to certain market sectors or larger companies with big budgets, events can still have an impact for smaller businesses as well. Whether it’s networking at a conference, attending a local business meetup, or holding your own, events offer a way for your audience to connect with you in real life.
If you’re a small shop owner, consider a holiday open house or special shopping experiences (Small Business Saturday is a great one!). Perhaps a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new office or store location is appropriate, or offering your place of business for a local charity to hold a fundraising event (which could drive interest in your store from attendees who may never have been in before).
Events don’t have to be expensive if you think out of the box, and with social channels, marketing them can be easier than ever. Online invitations, Twitter hashtags (make up your own or piggyback on another such as #SmallBusinessSaturday) and Facebook posts can all help promote your event for next to nothing. Remember to take a lot of photos and post them on channels such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
- Email Newsletters – believe it or not, email has been around for over 40 years! And while many began to tout its death when the social media craze arrived, it still holds its place as one of the main methods of communications in business. Today, tools such as MailChimp or Constant Contact allow you to quickly create beautiful and informative newsletters to regularly share interesting information, promotions and other news with your audience.
Most email newsletter tools are conscientious of small business needs, and that includes their pricing. Remember to incorporate the new tools such as social integration, website sign up forms and sharing options into your newsletter, to expand reach and encourage sharing by readers.
- Direct Mail – it seems that almost everything is electronic these days. Traditional mailboxes are often filled with less personal communications than ever. But direct mail can still be effective when done with a personal touch.
For example, sending out seasonal coupons or special offers that require the shopper to bring the coupon or flyer into the store. Or, sending a Birthday card to your top clients with a small gift. Anything that makes a consumer feel special can stand out from the bombardment of digital offers and content. To merge new and old initiatives, include things like QR codes or other special tie-ins to your website. FedEx Office can help get these printed, and delivered on time!
- Media Coverage – falling under the PR portion of your marketing wheelhouse, third party media coverage can still bring additional credibility and attention to your business.
Today, with the availability of journalists and their contact information online and in social channels such as Twitter, you can easily do some of your own outreach. Sign up for alerts at free services such as HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to learn about articles reporters are writing and who they are seeking as experts.
You’ll find that you may often fit that profile, have information to contribute, and can get your own company in the media. If you live in a smaller town, create relationships with the local town newspaper editor and get involved in numerous community initiatives often covered by the paper.
Most small businesses work on limited budgets. Hopefully these initiatives will help even the most frugal of companies think outside the box when it comes to merging traditional marketing initiatives with new marketing tools.