Marketing is important to any company, and it’s especially vital to the survival and long-term success of small to midsize businesses. In fact, your marketing needs to be perpetually on-point in a big way. So, do you stick with traditional or go headfirst into digital? Which is better? Which is more useful? Believe it or not, old school and new school marketing techniques don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
As much as I’m an advocate for embracing digital transformation and the importance of developing a digital marketing strategy, I don’t think you should throw all of your old school marketing tactics away. Why not use them to improve your overall strategy and keep your messaging relevant? You can, and here’s how.
Digitize your print content. If your business has been around for a while, odds are that you have newsletters, flyers, brochures or other print pieces that you’ve already produced. Are they collecting dust in your office, or are you sending them out through the mail with your fingers crossed? We know digital media reaches more people, but that doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to your messaging. Here’s what you can do instead:
- Take newsletter content and repurpose it on your company blog. (Remember to edit for web, so cut down on copy and break up your paragraphs.)
- Take that brochure content—any still-relevant images and information—and use it in a webpage. (Consider the ‘About Me’ section of your site.) In a brochure, you’ve already called out what’s important because space is limited. You’ve completed some of the prioritization that goes into determining what belongs on your customer-facing content, so apply that to your online presence, too.
- Take research reports or whitepaper highlights that you might have used in marketing materials (where still relevant, of course) and turn them into infographics for your small business website or social media account. Infographics are visually appealing, versatile and present data in exciting new ways. In short, people love them. If you already have the data in your hands, why not use it? If you haven’t produced these kind of assets in the past, find relevant sources and use them to create your own infographics chock full of information your customers might be interested in.
- Take your direct mail flyers and use those ideas to build an email newsletter. Don’t forget to encourage customers to opt-in using clear calls to action wherever possible.
Have a well-defined message? Get social with it. The market continues to change, but I imagine the fundamental principles upon which you’ve built your brand haven’t changed much. Are you passionate about great customer service? Is your business committed to innovation? Are you up on the latest trends in your industry, far beyond bottom lines and end of year totals? Is your pricing always competitive? Whatever it is that makes your brand unique, make sure you’re getting that out there. And today, the ‘there’ isn’t so much radio and television ads—it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and search engine results pages. When it comes to your social messaging, keep these things in mind:
- Words you use to describe your business could just be the right keywords for your organic search strategy. SEO can seem complicated to the unfamiliar, but it’s worth the investment to get it right. Don’t overcomplicate the process and just start by using the words you know, and the words you know customers use to describe your business and what you do or sell. (Side note: Are you leveraging the Internet and local search? If not, here’s why you should be.)
- Ever run any radio ads? What about headlines or calls to action on newspaper pages? That short and sweet copy is perfect for sites like Twitter, where punch matters more than syllables.
- Do you ever solicit customer feedback? Do you run surveys or have comment cards in your office? Consider taking that strategy to social media (like Facebook or LinkedIn), where you can post polls or address customer questions/concerns in real-time in front of a wider network. Also, don’t be shy about asking customers for their ideas or preferences in social media channels. Often the best ideas can come from your customers themselves. (Bonus: An active social media presence is relationship building and can help humanize your business.)
- Don’t forget the visuals. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Snapchat are highly visual channels. Have fun with them. Post pictures of your team at work, or doing silly things, or capture your customers in fun moments or situations (with their permission, of course). Sharing those images on social media channels can go a long way toward augmenting your online presence—and you’ll probably delight your customers in the process.
The concept of marketing hasn’t changed over the decades. It’s always been about getting your message out and staying top of mind. What has changed, though, is just how we go about doing that in a way that reaches the most people and best utilizes our resources. Focus on digital outlets without forgetting your marketing roots (or wasting what you’ve already created just because it’s on paper and not a screen).
How does your small business approach marketing? If you still run old school campaigns, can you shift your marketing culture and aim to repurpose that content or messaging to reach a wider audience online? What, if any, challenges do you anticipate along the way? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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