These days a startup or entrepreneur can use any number of web-based techniques to spread the word of their business, and these include such strategies as using SEO (search engine optimization), social media marketing, and ‘PPC campaigns’ (which consist of advertisements that are paid for on a ‘per click’ basis).
Now don’t get me wrong—all of these are great tools and can be incredibly powerful when it comes to gaining exposure.
The web can be viewed in many ways as a great ‘equalizer’ thanks to low-cost techniques like these, which allow small, new businesses to compete with much larger and more established companies that have a bigger budget behind them.
But on the other hand, the web isn’t the only way to market a company. If there’s one downside to these new methods for getting heard, it’s that they can cause us to overlook the older methods that were once the mainstays of business marketing.
With so many people using SEO and other internet-only marketing strategies, many of the older, “analog” marketing strategies are left wide open for the businesses that haven’t forgotten about them. There’s less competition and you can get a lot more bang for your buck than you used to, plus you can reach an entirely different audience than the one you reach online.
Some of these “rediscovered” marketing strategies may just be a perfect fit for your business, and could succeed where more modern techniques have failed:
1. Paid-for advertising
Back in the day, we would reach out to a publisher and offer to pay a one-off or monthly fee for the right to have our advertisement in their publication/on their channel.
And this is a strategy that still works!
Television advertising is still a very viable option, even for entirely web-based companies. Likewise you can get advertising in newspapers and magazines, or on radio stations. It’s relatively rare to find an advertisement for a website in a magazine, so if you can create a compelling image and get it into a relevant publication you might have found a perfect route to market. Local radio stations and newspapers, meanwhile, are a perfect fit for local businesses (and just as targeted as Facebook ads!).
Even if you want to advertise online, this is good strategy to take. Lots of bloggers use Google AdSense and other large programs to find ads for their sites, but if you approach them yourself and offer to pay for a banner on their site, they’ll be glad for the guaranteed sale and will probably give you much more prominence on the page as a result. This will help you to improve awareness for your brand and will help to set you apart from the competition—and you’ll often actually get a better rate as a result.
2. Media coverage
Better yet though, why not try to get free media coverage? If you can get an article into a local paper or an industry/niche magazine, that could be priceless exposure that brings in a lot of new customers.
But how do you go about doing that?
Well again, you should go traditional if you really want to be effective, and try building a relationship with a journalist or editor. Networking is a forgotten art and it works best if you can do it in person—try visiting some tradeshows or seeing if any of your existing contacts can put you in touch with someone who will listen.
You also need to think of ways to create a story around your business that will be newsworthy for the publication/outlet you’re targeting. For a local paper, telling your story might be enough (this is good for alumni publications too), but for an industry magazine you’re going to have to find some way to put a ‘new’ spin on the existing niche.
Don’t worry if the magazines aren’t directly related to you or your business, either—you could get into a magazine about sustainability, for example, if you can find a novel way to cut emissions. Everything is news to someone!
One way to get coverage in a paper is to throw some kind of event. That could be a launch party or an announcement, and if you can make the event exciting enough, then it will almost guarantee that you get some exposure.
Unfortunately, not every company has an announcement exciting enough to warrant regular conferences. Likewise, not every company can afford to repeatedly hire out venues and entertainment.
But there are other types of events that you can get coverage for, too. An example of this might be a competition—run a competition with an interesting prize and it will become newsworthy thanks to the value that it provides for the readers/viewers of that media.
Even hiring can be spun into an “event” if you get creative.
The power of tradeshows should never be underestimated. As mentioned above, many people don’t know how to network in person anymore, which puts them at a huge disadvantage. If you can network, you’ve got a leg up.
The best way to get coverage by the media is to attend tradeshows. Media professionals are likely to be there, and if you can use that opportunity to become friends with someone influential—from your industry, from the media, or from somewhere else—then you’ll start to see doors opening up that never would have otherwise.
5. Promotional gifts
Want to get a little extra bang for your buck at the tradeshow? Giving away promotional gifts is a great way to do so.
Many businesses these days ignore strategies like this one because it’s slow to have an impact and doesn’t scale as easily as something like SEO, but you shouldn’t let that fool you!
If you’ve ever read Kevin Kelly’s “1,000 True Fans” then you’ll know that a few die-hard fans can be a huge asset when it comes to marketing. And how can you make someone feel like they’re a part of your movement? Get them to wear a shirt with your logo on it as a memento from an exciting event!
Giving fans a sense of belonging is one of the major benefits of promotional gifts, but they will also help to win over more allies and friends among your customers and within the industry. Furthermore, if someone wears your promotional cap to a football game and happens to get caught on camera then that’s free advertising to thousands or even millions of people at once. (Beat that, internet!)
Sometimes, the old ways really are the best.
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