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Bowling for Business: Old School Marketing

I used to love finding electronic cards in my email inbox. But now, since so much of my life is spent in the virtual world instead of the real one, I prefer the infrequent arrival of hand-written greeting cards which come complete with sappy sentiments, stamps and spit to seal the envelopes. And I’m not alone.

Although e-cards were once an innovative novelty item, they’ve become standard practice. In much the same way, entrepreneurs often cut marketing costs by focusing on electronic campaigns instead of investing in pricier methods which require production, printing and distribution. But if you want your advertising to stand out, (and—after all—isn’t that the whole idea?), I suggest a return to old school marketing methods.

Before I incur the wrath of Greenpeace, let me explain. I am not suggesting we throw the baby out with the bath water. After all, I specialize in electronic forms of advertising such as websites, social media and email marketing. Eco-friendly and effective, these tools are here to stay. What I am saying is that any campaign will become tired if it is overused. The trick is to come up with a marketing mix that makes sense:

For Free—

One of the reasons electronic advertising so quickly caught on is because it is relatively inexpensive. You don’t have to hire a designer, pay a printer or buy stamps to reach out to all of your contacts. All you need is a computer and an email list. However, one of the reasons so many electronic advertising campaigns fail is because they are done without benefit of professional design, printing or distribution. Owning a computer does not make you a graphic designer or marketing professional any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car.

The key is to figure out what you can manage on your own and then bow out of other arenas until you can afford to hire someone to take on the task. For example, your ability to use Microsoft Publisher to create a brochure does not necessarily equip you to produce a professional flier. After all, your likely goal is to convince potential customers to buy your product or service. But most small business owners make the mistake of using so many words that they scare away their audience. If you can’t afford to hire help, ask existing customers for honest feedback. And be ready to act on what you hear.

On a Limited Budget—

If you’re on a limited budget (and who isn’t these days?), make sure you get the most bang for your advertising buck. This is an important lesson to take beyond the recession. Successful entrepreneurs test and measure the effectiveness of everything they do and use that information to inform decisions about future endeavors.

When you get a lead, do you make it a practice to ask where the lead was generated? Do you act on that information? One of the first questions I ask new clients is where they get their best leads. And I’m amazed at how few know the answer. The only way you will know whether an ad campaign is successful is to keep track. And this applies to electronic as well as printed advertising endeavors.

The Sky’s the Limit—

Take a cue from the big guns like Coca Cola, Nike, apple and Ford. With virtually unlimited resources at their disposal, they effortlessly combine traditional and digital marketing methods:

  • Each owns a simple dot com, so their websites are easy to find and navigate.
  • Their social media sites are interactive, attractive and effective at driving business.
  • Television commercials, radio campaigns and product placement are standard procedure.
  • Their brands are instantly recognizable worldwide because their logos and slogans are reinforced in everything they do.
  • They use printed materials to point to electronic hubs. Posters and fliers contain QR Codes and URLs which direct traffic to websites and social media networks.
  • Full-color brochures are professionally produced so clients and corporate partners have a “take away,” which combines beautiful photography, succinct sales’ copy and extraordinary artwork…everything I love about greeting cards—sans the spit.

Until next time, I’ll be Bowling for Business.

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