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You could be forgiven for thinking that the answer is yes; with literally billions of searches completed every day on Google and other search engines, it would seem that everyone is online.
Online marketing holds a massive proportion of your marketing budget and quite rightly so. Without a strong online presence, you will find it difficult to sustain a business.
Everywhere we turn in life, technology is taking over. Smartphone's, tablets and TV screens are everywhere- but there is a danger. Companies are now beginning to forget that the internet is not the only place to sell.
There are three reasons:
i. Brand awareness
ii. Attracting fresh or new custom
iii. Staying with the pack
Let’s examine this.
A brand is not something that all businesses truly gets to grip with. Many businesses stop short when it comes to developing the whole brand package but, research shows it is becoming more important. Brand awareness is what customers will develop about your company, forming the opinion from the logo, the tagline and also how you interact with them. This isn’t just about pretty letterheads and sacking the bored-sounding receptionist on the phone. It is about creating a vibrant company, with whom people will want to spend their money.
It will extend across everything, including your printed media. But before you rush out and invest in thousands of leaflets, take stock for a moment- your brand is only good if people are aware of it. And this is where printed media comes into it.
Letterhead, banners, website… you name it, it simply must have your logo on it, in the ‘right’ colours and have a feel to it that shows people you are original, unique and well worth doing business with. Printed media can be used to target the audience or market that you want to appeal to… once you have your leaflets, where are you going to put them? When? Why?
Returning customers are worth their weight in gold- if people didn’t like you and what you do, they wouldn’t come back.
But, you cannot rely solely on returning customers; you must invest time and energy in attracting new ones. If you think your current market is exhausted, where are you going to attract new customers from?
Offline marketing activities are still very much valid in this case; take the ‘humble’ mail shot, for example. You’ve invested in leaflets, bamboozled with your new logo and a whole list of products and special offers, all to draw in new customers.
Did you know that nearly 22 million adults were motivated to try something new as a result of receiving direct mail? Of that staggering number, just over 6 million placed an order and another 7 million of those people visited a shop or retail unit and bought products or services.
On one hand, you may be reaping in customers online but it would be great if your offline marketing activities, such as direct mail, could bring in results too. Comparison between email promotions and direct mail promotions suggest that email has a 17% ‘opening’ rate by customers, compared to a reported 91% of recipients who opened direct mail.
Why is offline marketing still successful? Some experts in the field suggest it is the tactile nature of the leaflet, the envelope etc. that draws some people in. To find out more about direct mail, have a look here.
Smaller and medium-sized enterprises assume that bigger companies are no longer investing in offline marketing activities and so stop their own, thinking they are mimicking the ‘big boys’. BUT this is not the case.
It is true that larger, global corporations are expected to increase their marketing budget regarding online activities significantly in the next few year but not at the expense of their offline marketing activities. Around about 35% of a typically larger company’s marketing budget is spent on online activities, with around 20 – 25% on offline activities – still a hefty chunk spending a quarter of tour marketing budget on offline activities – what do you spend?
You can, of course, link the two – there is no rule to say you can’t. For example, putting a code on your printed leaflets, inviting people to take advantage of a discount on your online store is a great way of raising your brand awareness ‘on the street’ whilst driving traffic to your site.
Offline marketing is far from dead. You need to strike a balance between online and offline. Printed media is only as good as the design and message it carries; you may have been distracted by the online world – who hasn’t? – but it seems that all businesses neglect offline marketing at their peril.