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  • Writer's pictureClaire Elbrow

Old school marketing - time for a comeback?

Digital marketing is fantastic, but it can be difficult for some small businesses to make an impact particularly if your valuable time is better spent with potential clients than sitting on Twitter. There is so much 'noise' from emails, to social media and internet advertisements that people are becoming more and more overwhelmed.

So how can we ensure our small business stands out? One answer is pretty simple - bring it back to basics.

Our old school marketing tips will help your small business stand out against your competition without the need for you to understand the complex world of digital!

Direct Mail

We know it is not cheap, but it can be pretty effective. I could never confidently say that one simple postcard or a single letter will bring you tons of instant sales, but it will improve your brand awareness and make your small business stand out against others selling the same thing.

If you think creatively, you can get a better ROI. Think about something which is lightweight but perhaps an fun shape? Compel people to open it, even though they know it is a promotional piece.

The key can be regular contact, particularly if you are looking for local business. A monthly flyer to your potential customers showcasing your offers or new products/services might just end up being very timely.

Local or carefully placed billboard ads

I am one of those people who reads billboard and bus advertisements whilst sitting in the traffic! I bet you do too, once the queue boredom has set in! Capture your audience's interest as they too sit in traffic with a well placed billboard ad which promotes your services and products. Don't forget your contact information! You can also look for similar opportunities, perhaps on buses, at supermarkets, on roundabouts, at doctors surgeries or healthcare centres. The best space for you obviously depends on where you are most likely to find your audience.

Promotional Items

Everyone loves free stuff - I know I do! You can choose between cheap and useful like branded pens or mugs or the more expensive items like branded notepads or umbrellas. Free stuff is great as every time it is used, your brand is seen and people are made subliminally aware of it. The exposure level you can gain if you hand out your free stuff at events or networks is a great investment in itself.

Radio Advertising

Radio ads are fairly inexpensive in the world of advertising and can help your small business stand out at just the right time. Whether your customer is driving to work or heading home, you have a fair chance of making a decent impact if your ideal audience listen to the radio.

Obviously local options are better for local businesses, but the key is knowing where your audience will be hanging out.

The best bit about radio is that you are not competing with anyone during your spot. Your brand and message is right there, in front of your customers for the few seconds the advertisement runs and they will be focusing solely on your message. No other noise and nothing else to compete with, which is rare in marketing!

Picking up the phone!

The long lost art of picking up the phone is making a comeback! We all hate anonymous cold calls where the caller reads from a script and there is nothing interesting in it at all. However, if you have a connection - make that call as it invariably reaps rewards.

The key is not to try and start in depth conversations. It should be used to explain who you are, why you’re calling, and to see if you can arrange a more formal time to chat or send further information via email. This allows you to stand out in a positive way, shows you are flexible and aware and lets you capture their preferred contact information for further contact.

The very best telemarketing teams work in this way and although some small business owners are still not that keen on them, they can really work for you if you have a defined brief and KPIs.

Vehicle Wraps

Vehicle wraps are a great tool for helping your small business stand out. It promotes your brand and shares your contact information with anyone on the road. Depending on where you drive, each impression you get on the road will cost less than impressions you pay for with ads on Google or Facebook, for instance!

When deciding if this is the best use of your marketing budget, consider how you will use vehicle wrapping as well. Do you just want to promote your brand in a generic way or will the wraps be supplemental advertising for specific promotions you have in place? It is important to consider your strategy with these and any other marketing mediums you use before shelling out thousands of pounds from your limited small business budget.

Word of Mouth

Still the most successful ways for your business to stand out is through word of mouth. As with online testimonials, word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool which we don’t leverage enough as small businesses owners. There are many ways to get people talking about your small business.

It all starts by you being a trusted, unique brand. From there, you have many options. You can encourage existing customers to refer you to their network for an incentive. You can also create viral content that gets people talking on and offline. Once you find something that works, it is all about figuring out how to repeat your success.

These tactics have been about for years, purely because they work. One may work better for you than another and it is important to keep this in mind when choosing how you measure your successes.

If you are keen to develop a marketing plan for your business and not sure where to start or which mix of activities to use, get in touch and we can help you on your way. Contact us at

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