10 Effective Offline Marketing Ideas for Startups in 2018

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offline marketing ideas

Most of us believe that these days, digital marketing is the only way to get results. While this may be true for a specific target market, some of the best marketing ideas happen offline. Great marketing strategies are those that combine both online and offline ideas seamlessly, in one complete package. 

If you haven’t been putting much effort into your offline marketing tactics, then it’s time that you give your business a boost with the following offline marketing ideas.

Inspiration has always been within your reach—you just need to know where to look.

1. Get creative with your business cards

Investing in well-made business cards is one of the most effective ways to get your business out there. Set your brand apart by choosing a unique design that reflects your brand values and creativity.

Always ensure that everyone who is anyone in your company has their own to give away, because you never know when they’ll need to share your business details with a prospective client.

As with all print design, weigh what you want against what it costs. There are plenty of cheap, templated business plan generators out there. But if you have something special in mind, or you want to have the opportunity to pick (and feel) a specific type of business card paper, you might want to look for a local designer and print shop.

Keep in mind that your business card is an extension of your brand, so it’s helpful if you’re consistent. Don’t use a different logo, font style, or colors than the ones you use on your website or on the rest of your (on and offline) marketing materials.

Quick tips to make your business cards stand out:

  • Use colored cardboard instead of the usual white
  • Change the orientation from landscape to portrait
  • Here’s a guide to designing a great business card that will help

2. Make the most out of your printed marketing material

Another way to get your brand message out to your target market is to give away printed marketing material. Flyer printing may seem like an old tactic, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get results, especially if you’re heading to a trade show, or trying to gain some visibility in your local area.

Go the extra mile and innovate beyond the standard template. There are a lot of creative ways you can get your target market’s attention using flyers and pamphlets, so make sure yours are practical for reading, keeping, and saving. Here’s a guide to making great flyers with some beautiful examples.

Quick tips to make flyers and pamphlets worth keeping:

  • Print out informative infographics and turn those into flyers
  • Add discount coupons at the bottom of your flyers
  • Make sure to include your contact information

3. Go big with billboards

Go for innovative design if you want your billboards to stand out. There’s so much you can do with outdoor advertising, especially if your billboards are located in high traffic areas.

It may seem like a big expense since billboard space doesn’t necessarily come cheap, but the exposure can be worth it. Make sure your call to action and contact information is printed clearly to make the most out of your small investment. Less is more when you need your message to be digestible in a single glance.

Quick tips to save money on billboards:

  • Have your vehicles wrapped and turn them into mobile billboards, or look into advertising on buses or public transit that travel through your target market’s area
  • Partner up with a vertical business for a joint campaign and share the costs for a premium billboard
  • Don’t just put your billboard anywhere—make sure you do research about demographics of your target market so that you know your billboard will actually be seen by people who might buy your product or service

4. Package your products differently

If you’re selling physical goods with a lot of competition, you need to make sure that your product packaging is well thought out. There are many ways you can boost your brand’s exposure on the shelves just by packaging your products differently.

You can also give away stickers or branded knick knacks with every purchase of your product so that fans of your brand can help spread the word.

Quick tips to update your product packaging:

  • Incorporate recycled material into your packaging (make sure to include a humble brag about it on there too)
  • Change the orientation from landscape to portrait
  • Make sure you (or your designer) understand the basics of color and design psychology and function; The Design of Everyday Things is a great, eye-opening resource
  • Test a few different design prototypes to see what resonates more with customers

5. Offer group specific discounts

There’s no better way to foster brand loyalty and get your message out there than by throwing a sale.

By offering discounts to a specific target market, you’re making clients feel privileged while boosting leads and sales. Advertise the incentives and you’ll even get the attention of prospective clients who have never heard of you before.

Quick tips to give away great discounts:

  • Pick out a specific demographic (freshmen, moms, newlyweds) and give them their own sale week
  • Partner with other stores in your area to offer discounts that work together; for example, some smaller movie theaters offer discounts on dinner at a local restaurant if you show your ticket stub 

6. Celebrate holidays with your clients

Love the holidays? Send out cards and small gifts to clients and use special occasions and milestones to make your presence known. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money celebrating with your customers.

A well-designed, well-thought out personalized greeting or small token can show clients that you care and that they mean something to your brand.

Quick tips to make the holidays memorable for clients:

  • Offer unique discounts for every appropriate holiday in your calendar; make it easy for customers to remember with in-store signs and even reminders on their receipts
  • Send out “Happy Anniversary” cards with special discounts to your clients on your store anniversary
  • A few months before the holidays, give away a coupon book that your clients can use for their holiday shopping at your store

7. Get your own PR team

There’s really no need to put together an in-house PR team for your company; you just need to create relationships with relevant media to get favorable coverage from the local journalists in your area. Go out of your way to get to know them and show them what your brand is about.

Get your brand story ready and make sure that it’s newsworthy. To be fair, the days when you circulated print copies of press releases to news organizations are gone. So this strategy is offline in that good, genuine PR, like good marketing, is about creating relationships with reporters and others who can help spread (hopefully good) news about your company.

Quick tips to get extra PR power:

  • Invite the press over for an official meet and greet
  • Invite public officials to your office to comment about a top of mind issue that pertains to your business and invite the press
  • If it makes sense for your business, look into offline publications that your target market is most likely to read (maybe it’s the Wall Street Journal, maybe it’s Backpacker’s magazine) and get familiar with their publication protocols

8. Network your way to success

Even with a small business, you can network your way to success. There are countless opportunities to build a business network even in a small town, so make sure that you attend all relevant business activities in your area.

Look for your area’s chamber of commerce, a Toastmaster’s club, Rotary, or other professional associations.

Quick tips to create a strong business network:

  • If your area still doesn’t have a business group, round up some interested business owners and meet up to start a small network
  • Read up on how to get the most out of networking, even if you’re an introvert
  • Don’t forget to bring your business cards everywhere!
  • Practice your elevator speech about your business so you’re never caught off guard

9. Participate in trade shows

Attending and participating in trade shows is another way to get more exposure for your business. Whether you’re displaying or selling, you’ll be able to generate quality leads in just a few short days.

Make sure that your promotional materials are well suited to your objectives so that you don’t waste valuable time or resources.

Quick tips to make the most out of trade shows:

  • Have a gimmick so that your target market will flock to your booth
  • Give away free product samples or discount codes for every lead you collect
  • Be a speaker or offer a workshop at the conference: a built-in, captive audience
  • Follow up with everyone who gives you their contact information within a week of the conference

10. Offer expert advice

As an expert in your chosen field, there are numerous opportunities where you can help people and at the same time get airtime for your business.

Try becoming a guest at a local radio show or morning TV show and offer consumer advice that is related to your brand and industry. See if you can get a regular column in your newspaper or other relevant publication. Be genuine and offer some valuable information.

If you use your platform to deliver a hard sales pitch, you’ll waste an opportunity to build real relationships and connections with peers and potential customers.

Quick tips to be the expert:

  • Hold a “free consultation” day at your business; make it valuable and actionable
  • Have a section for useful tips on your flyers
  • Look for opportunities to share your skills and insights in the wider community

11. Be more visible

If you want to be more visible in your community, there are a few ways to help people start to recognize your brand.

One option: outfit your team (even if that’s just you) with quality clothing that features your branding. It’s good advertising and a good investment in your team. Also, Think about sponsoring or volunteering for a cause in your area. Most sponsorship opportunities come with some promotion (brand awareness) opportunities.

And if you do decide to volunteer, wear that branded shirt!

Quick tips to make your business more visible:

  • Look for causes that are in line with your mission, when you’re thinking about volunteering or sponsorship opportunities
  • Think of your logo wear as an investment that shines a light on the quality of your brand

Now, you’re ready to take your marketing offline and into the world. What’s your favorite offline marketing strategy?

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2015. It was updated in 2018.

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James Javier
James Javier
James is a Business Management graduate and a part-time blogger. His works are often inspired by his relentless research in the field of business. He also works for a flyers printing business in Australia as a designer. When he's not busy helping small business owners on their start-up, he tends to practice and improve his writing skills on his spare time. You can follow him @JM_Jav21.
Posted in Growth & Metrics