Everybody talks about online advertising—but traditional marketing still makes it into most company budgets. So, if companies are still investing in traditional marketing, what are they investing in, and why?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization composed of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published “#FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good),” a book of 30-plus proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.
13 Effective Traditional Marketing Strategies
1. Localize Offline to Build Trust
I invest in signs and door hangers and try to blanket the town with them. If you want to stay top of mind with your core clients, you have to market to them offline as well. Not only will this drive them to your online campaign and reinforce what they see online, but it can also create direct leads by localizing your brand, thereby creating trust.
-Nick Friedman (twitter.com/NickFriedman1), College Hunks Hauling Junk (collegehunkshaulingjunk.com/)
2. Networking in Person
I don't budget much for most traditional marketing, but I'm always willing to pay to attend an event or a conference. In-person networking always pays out a major return on my investment.
-Thursday Bram (twitter.com/thursdayb), Hyper Modern Consulting (hypermodernconsulting.com)
3. Local Events Pay Off
Yes, events IRL (in real life) are beneficial for the customer to jump-start a relationship with the company and to get hands-on with the product. This will encourage the customer to spread word of mouth, which is the most influential and valuable part of marketing because it means more if someone else has something to say from their personal experience and familiarity with the product.
-Lane Sutton (twitter.com/lanesutton), Social Media from a Teen (lanesutton.com)
4. Conferences Still Drive Revenue
Attending conferences is an important part of our marketing strategy. We also host dinners and events in different cities to provide an opportunity to meet with clients or partners and get to know them better. No matter how effective your advertising and email marketing are, or how skilled you are on the phones, an in-person meeting is always more memorable.
-Arjun Arora (twitter.com/retargeter), ReTargeter (retargeter.com)
5. Guerrilla Marketing Through Trade Shows
While trade shows (and their relative, conferences) may seem old-school, they are still tried-and-true ways to create strategic partnerships, find initial customers, and meet insiders. While online marketing can have a hard-to-resist ROI, it is no substitution for the face-to-face interaction afforded by trade shows.
-David Ehrenberg (twitter.com/#!/EarlyGrowthFS), Early Growth Financial Services (earlygrowthfinancialservices.com/)
6. On-Site Activities
When it comes to traditional marketing, I still invest in on-site marketing activities such as events and sponsorships. On-site marketing is not only a great way to make a lasting connection with your target market, but it also provides the opportunity to capture great content such as photos and videos, which are perfect to release via your social media channels.
-Kevin Tighe II (twitter.com/kevintighe2), inflite (inflite.com)
7. Printed Pieces in the Physical World
Although your cost per impression is typically a lot higher, putting a physical piece of marketing in someone's hand (or face) can still have an impact. Reaching someone in the real world with a flier, poster, pin or billboard can help reinforce what you are doing online and legitimize your business in the real world, instead of being just another website.
-Lucas Sommer (twitter.com/audimated), Audimated (audimated.com)
8. Consider Your Audience!
We invest in billboards, sponsorships, direct mail, and print ads. We offer a service where a lot of our customers aren’t online, so it makes sense for us. Traditional forms are still valid. Digital tends to be the cheapest form, but remember how you want to set yourself apart from the competition.
-Jordan Guernsey (twitter.com/#!/moldingbox), Molding Box (moldingbox.com/)
9. Are They Trackable?
We use ads and classifieds in printed materials. I highly recommend you use a custom link in these ads that allows you to track traffic and conversions. Don’t use a bit.ly link, or a long extension to your site that the reader will never remember—spend the extra eight bucks for a new domain name specifically for the ad.
-Nicolas Gremion, Foboko.com (foboko.com/)
10. Extra Product and Surprise Shipping
We choose to spend our "offline" marketing budget on increasing a customer's experience. Instead of creating a TV or newspaper advertisement, we use that money for various treats for our customers. Sometimes that means we include free product, and sometimes, like Zappos, we upgrade to express shipping. We believe there is incredible value from a customer sharing an exceptional experience.
-Aaron Schwartz (twitter.com/#!/ModifyWatches), Modify Watches (modifywatches.com)
11. Handwritten Cards
For special occasions like birthdays, graduations or other major life events, I'll often send a handwritten card. It makes my clients feel special and adds a personal touch.
-Elizabeth Saunders (Twitter.com/RealLifeE), Real Life E (ScheduleMakeover.com)
12. Hit the Pavement Swagged Out
You are your brand. No online strategy should sell your product better than you do. For Code Academy, the best way for us to attract students is by going to them in person. Another element of this is wearing your brand, whether through T-shirts, hoodies, backpacks, etc. I cannot count the number of interactions I have had just for the mere fact that I was wearing my company's T-shirt. Get swagged out!
-Mike McGee (twitter.com/michaelmcgee), Code Academy (codeacademy.org)
13. Put an Effort Into Press
We invest in press. People still read the news, and a story is still the most powerful way to connect with potential users. We invest in writing good content, pitching good stories, and doing things that are newsworthy. While it’s a big time commitment, it’s the best way to get more customers.
-Patrick Ambron (twitter.com/patrickambron), BrandYourself (brandyourself.com)