It seems like everything is shifting online these days. Yes, the internet's definitely the place to be, and businesses and entrepreneurs are scrambling over each other to dominate. In their wake, however, they're leaving behind a gold-mine of offline opportunities that, with the right know-how, you can tap into.
Research conducted as recently as March – by Thinkbox – shows that TV advertising is the most effective form for generating brand word-of-mouth (51%). Although you may not have the budget to advertise on TV, it's clear that offline advertising still has a role to play.
Online adverts do have some notable advantages. You can focus in very specifically on your target audience using keywords, which can allow you to get the timing of your engagement almost perfect.
Unfortunately, with offline advertising, you cannot get the timing as laser targeted. Don't worry though, you can still get your audience in the bullseye.
How do you do this?
I've found the best way to advertise offline is to use really, really specialised publications. There are a number of reasons for this:
Niche publications are unlikely to attract the attentions of big businesses, and so the rates are usually much more affordable.
While you won't reach as wide an audience as you might with other publications, the people you do reach will be the ones who are firmly within your target audience, and who are most likely to convert.
Even if you know you're reaching the right people, it can be a little off putting to see small circulation numbers for the publications you're advertising in.
It's worth remembering that most magazines are read by two to three times as many people as the number of copies sold indicates. Well that’s what the sales reps keep telling me!
A lot of advertising works simply by using repetition to create brand familiarity. This is known as the marketing mix.
Even if members of your target audience are not ready to purchase right now, when they do decide they need a service similar to the one you offer, they're more likely to think of you.
Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying you should give up on the internet. I'm simply saying you should consider dipping your toe in the offline world, if you haven’t already done so.
Using a multi-directional approach can really help with brand familiarity, and offer you extra opportunities to generate a deeper level of engagement. By using offline advertising to point readers to offers on your website, for example, you can neatly combine the two marketing approaches.
Make sure the offline advertisement is strong enough to stand alone, however, as the majority of people are unlikely to diligently visit your website immediately after spotting your advert in a magazine.
Monitoring Your Offline Marketing Efforts
There are masses of online adverts, which seem to be increasing every time you blink. It’s a simple fact that a lot of them are cheap and nasty. This is because the barriers to entry are so low and spammers take advantage of this. As a result, audiences are a lot more wary of online advertising than they are of offline advertising
Many people even install plug-ins to block adverts from interfering with them online.
On a subconscious level, your audience can't help but view offline adverts as more authoritative and trustworthy than online ones.
They suggest the organisation is willing to back its product/service by making a real effort to market it properly.
One thing that often puts people off paying for offline advertising is thinking it's impossible to track how effective they are, and thinking it's too difficult to monitor their return on investment.
There is, however, a crude way to do this.
Basically, it involves setting up a custom phone number, printing this number on the offline ad, and then monitoring how many leads come through the number. Creating a custom website landing page, and then printing a unique web address on the advert, can have similar results.
This won’t be 100% accurate, but it will certainly give you a good guide as to how effective your spend is. I use ResponseTap to track my numbers both online and offline.
Alternatively, you can simply survey those who do convert to see where they initially heard about your service, but again this isn’t always accurate, so a combination of both will give you a good indication.
So, to summarise, offline advertising definitely still has a role but – to be successful – you need to focus on niche publications, and create a way to measure how well placed your spend is. If you do this, you'll be able to profit from the cheaper offline adverts due to the online stampede.