The other day I was eating a terrific sandwich in a café near my office, when I noticed staff members wearing T-shirts saying, “We do business catering.” I immediately texted my office manager and told her to order from this café for our next staff lunch. Wow. They got an order from a T-shirt! This small business knew something many entrepreneurs forget—traditional marketing works.
In your small business, do you feel pressured to tweet on Twitter? Post on Facebook? Pin to Pinterest? Regram on Instagram? Still trying to learn how to get your website found on Google? And why, oh why, can’t you get your good reviews seen on Yelp?
In the frenzy for sexy new digital marketing, it’s easy to overlook some tried-and-true marketing strategies. After all, even a t-shirt on an employee can be an effective marketing vehicle.
So I’m here to remind you of six great marketing tactics that get customers in your door and boost sales. Marketing tactics you probably knew once—and have forgotten. The best news? They’re low-tech, low-touch, and low-cost:
- Business cards: Your business card may be your smallest marketing vehicle, but it’s also your most important. Customers and prospects hold on to business cards. Make sure they have all your vital contact info (including your social media handles). If possible, add one brief line telling people something crucial about your business. (On my card, for instance, we say ‘the leading publisher specializing in entrepreneurship and small business.’) Carry your business card with you at ALL times. Order them online at Vista Print or Overnight Prints.
- Signs: Whether it’s a sign over your front door, on the side of your van, or on a neon billboard in New York Time’s Square, signs get people’s attention. Unlike social media, which constantly needs to be updated, you design and invest in a sign once, and it stays around a long time. Signs can be effective inside your place of business too—like the sign in a restaurant near me that says, “Host your next party here.”
- Brochures: Think these are old-fashioned? Well, customers still like to get a succinct overview of your business, including your services or products. Brochures are great to give out at business mixers or trade shows, but they also work with current customers. I just picked up a brochure from my hair dresser, and it reminded me of the wide range of services offered. Brochures can be inexpensive, so you can be generous in distributing them. Get template brochures at a number of online print sites or get a custom brochure designed by a company such as 99Designs. We print ours at PsPrint.
- Advertising specialties: I’ve got a magnet from my dog’s vet on my refrigerator, a beautiful calendar from my mortgage banker on my wall, and a mug from my bank on my desk. All these freebies – known as advertising specialties, promotional items, swag, or “tschotkes”—keep names and contact info in front of me. Meanwhile, I have to dig to find my plumber’s number when I need it, and I’ve totally lost contact with the electrician I liked last summer. Give-aways are effective little advertising vehicles that most small businesses forget to use.
- Sales materials: Sales sheets, price lists, product specification sheets and catalogs help you close the deal. They’re primarily used at the time or point of sale, often given by a salesperson to a prospect, and provide the information and details prospects need to make purchasing decisions, as well as to motivate them to choose you over a competitor. Sure, these may be boring, but they work.
- Newspaper ads: You thought newspapers were dead? Look around at any Starbucks or café, and you’ll see people reading them. Newspaper ads are still effective, especially when you announce sales or offer coupons. City and neighborhood newspapers target the people you want to reach—your local customers, and they put your message in front of people when you’ve got their attention.
It’s only natural to be excited about new marketing techniques—such as social media—and they work. But don’t forget the tried-and-true tactics that can grow your business right now.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2015
This article originally ran in USA Today on March 13, 2015