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Non-Digital Marketing: Offline Advertising Methods

May 9th, 2008

offline-advertising-methods.jpgSince most of us bloggers and Internet marketing enthusiasts have our business operations based on (surprise!) the Internet, it seems natural that our advertising would be done online also. However, as long as our websites are designed to attract readers, deliver useful information, and ultimately make money, it never hurts to look at some of the more traditional and creative offline advertising methods as a way of attracting visitors to our sites that otherwise may never have known about us. As with most of her others, this article by Cheryl Frost is primarily targeted toward brick-and-mortar small businesses, but it also presents some interesting ideas for using offline advertising that we could apply to our Internet marketing endeavors.

Marketing for your small business requires that you keep up with the times, and that means taking advantage of digital media sources such as websites and cable TV. But digital marketing should only be used as a supplement to conventional methods. Never abandon old school tactics. Remember, not all of your potential customers will be digitally oriented, and a simple OFF button can kill your marketing connection. Non-digital media keeps the line open while still providing creative ways to lure in new prospects.


Newspapers and Telephone Directories

Good old fashioned print marketing is still a very common way to increase sales. No respectable newspaper lacks plenty of supportive ads. Do a little research on your target newspaper’s circulation to see not only how many people purchase the paper, but also how many businesses subscribe.

Telephone directories are also heavily used these days. A decent sized yellow pages ad would be a helpful supplement to a simple address listing. You can’t include as much information as a website, but you can promote your company’s unique competitive edge in your directory ad.


Businesses that operate out of customer-oriented shops decorate their walls with signs that advertise and inform. Customers who enter your shop for one particular item will have their attention drawn to other products and services you offer. Any promotions or discounts will be noted in signs on the walls, hopefully enticing the customer to inquire about them.

When customers have to wait for your services, they have nothing to do except read. Their eyes will skim the walls for all written words, not realizing that what they are actually doing is learning. Be sure all of your signs are informative, but not misleading.


Promoting a new business requires a little creativity, but it doesn’t mean you have to hire someone to stand on a corner in a gorilla suit, waving your logo. Creative marketing means that your business logo can appear in the most natural, yet unexpected places.

Aerial banners

Take advantage of large community activities like picnics or sporting events. When massive numbers of potential customers will be spending the day outside, consider hiring an aerial advertising pilot to tow your company’s banner overhead. This is not the most inexpensive media tool, but it is a memorable method and one you can try out maybe once a year.

Skating rinks

Skating rinks (particularly those that sponsor hockey) sometimes allow banner ads to be placed around the boards of the rink. You might have potential customers in the rink either skating or sitting on the side waiting for a child or friend. People who wait typically read, whether they want to or not. The longer they wait, the longer your banner could be etching itself into their minds.

Sports fields

Like skating rinks, many sports arenas and baseball fields allow banner ads. For whatever sport is most popular in your area, post your business logo on the field. Don’t forget children’s sports. For every child athlete, there will be at least one or two adult spectators. Consider sponsoring a team, ensuring a walking ad on the back of every player.

Restaurant Menus

You might not even have noticed that the back of many restaurant menus contains a subtle collage of business logos. This is a clever subliminal marketing strategy. But it does require a little research. Target sports bars and restaurants where corporate executives hang out or where administrative employees and purchasing departments might go for lunch. You don’t want to put your logo in a place where your customers are never likely to go.

Toys and trinkets

Promotional items, little gadgets and toys with your business name on it, are a fun way to promote yourself. People love those little stress balls and key chains and all the other gadgets business owners hand out. Free pens, pencils, magnets, dolls, and rulers are among the most popular promotional items. These can either be handed out directly to the customers or mailed to them. A customer might not need your product right away. But the stress ball that constantly sits on his desk will be the first thing he sees when the idea does come to him. Free stuff always puts your business on the good side of the customer.

Free Samples

Depending on what you sell, free samples can be an effective marketing tool. Free food is always welcome, as are free pens or other low-cost items. Free ink cartridges, however, would be expensive and more likely to hurt you financially than help. But you can be creative. Do you have a top-of-the-line grade of paper? Offer three to five sheets of it in a sample package — just enough for the customer to see the quality, but not so much that you go broke.

Free samples can also be offered by way of coupon or buy-one-get-one-free offer. Some companies offer free samples with the purchase of another product. One example is when customers buy photo ink and get three sheets of photo paper free. The goal is to make the customer see that the one item should go with the other. Next time maybe they will purchase both.

Although digital marketing is a strongly suggested trend in the modern business world, small businesses should not overlook the potential of print media. As you can see, promoting your small business can be fun, creative, effective, and digitally independent.

2 Responses to “Non-Digital Marketing: Offline Advertising Methods”

  1. comment number 1 by: Bryan Reed

    I completely agree. You’d be surprised at how many people absolutely rule out direct mail. I’ve found that even leads for business that you’ve captured online, that if you send them a direct mail piece, or even just a post card, they are over 30% more likely to convert.

    I’ve started businesses in niches (extremely profitable ones at that) where the demographic cannot even be reached online. Then you don’t evem have a choice.

  2. comment number 2 by: Wess Stewart

    I have found that many people will be more likely to check something out online if you can get their attention and direct them toward a website in a conversation.

    Oh, and I love the blimp…

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