Most of the buzz in marketing the last few years has focused on the online aspects of growing a business—social media, email, SEO and the like.
The fact is, even though many people do turn online first to do research and search for options, many products and services are still transacted and delivered in person, by real people, offline.
Smart marketers know that it’s extremely important to balance both online and offline marketing elements to create the most complete customer journey and experience. Many times offline interaction and face-to-face exposure are the best ways to cement deeper relationships with customers.
Which offline marketing tactics work best?
1. Lumpy Mail
I’ve always been a fan of direct mail and, in some ways, as marketers abandon it for things like email, it has become more effective. I’ve often employed a direct mail approach I call “lumpy mail” to get the most from sending marketing messages through the mail.
The idea behind lumpy mail is to send something that isn’t flat, can’t be ignored and will most likely get out of the mail sort and onto the desired desk. This works even better when you send something unexpected and tie it thematically to a powerful message. I had a client once who sent hula hoops to prospects to drive home the point that they would do whatever it took—like jump through hoops—to make their customers happy.
They always got a huge response from these mailings because they simply couldn’t be missed.
2. Your Staff
While you might not always think of your staff as an offline marketing tactic, the way that they interact with your prospects and customers is certainly a big part of the experience. Smart firms know this, and know how to turn it into a competitive advantage.
Based on a 2011 survey commissioned by RightNow and conducted by Harris Interactive, 86 percent of consumers said they would pay up to 25 percent or more for a better experience.
I know I go out of my way to frequent a particular coffee shop because everyone who works there goes out of his or her way to make sure I have a great experience. It’s intentional, and you can feel it.
When was the last time you sent your customers, partners or staff members a note of thanks? When was the last time you picked up the phone and called some regular customers to tell them you had a gift for them? When was the last time you sent flowers to your longtime employees?
Okay, you get the point. This is one of the easiest offline tactics to employ, and the fact is, few people do it. There’s a great little book by John Kralik called 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life that I recommend all the time to business owners.
If you’ve achieved any measure of success in your business, there’s a pretty good chance others had a hand in it.
4. Your Business Card
The business card has almost gone by the wayside these days as the original purpose no longer has much use. I mean, just bump your phone with mine and we can exchange all the data we need and more.
However, if you think about the business card as an object that can help you convey your brand or even your organization’s culture, you might start to think about it differently.
You can print and engrave on some pretty incredible surfaces and shapes these days, so why not use your business card to wow rather than inform? Think of it as lumpy mail that you hand over when you meet face to face.
5. Local Social Groups
My final suggestion involves online and offline integration. There are many online tools and networks that you can employ to find, assemble and drive people offline.
Think about using tools like Meetup or LinkedIn Groups to create and moderate special interest groups that can turn into lead generators for your business or community.
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine, and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. His latest book, Duct Tape Selling—Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar, is available online and in bookstores May 15.
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