Like most businesses today we are primarily focused on online marketing. However, there are still some offline marketing channels that can be highly effective and that I believe are underrated. Specifically, I am referring to radio advertising, transit advertising, and bulletin board advertising.
First I want to turn to using radio to get out your message. Radio is a disruptive media: radio ads jump out at you and make you listen. You can’t easily turn them off or click away without turning off the radio station that you are attuned to. I have found radio advertising to be highly effective in getting people to buy a new product: I doubled the sales pace of a local magazine I was publishing with radio ads. However, one of the keys to making this happen is that I was able to secure extremely widespread location of the magazine: it was in about 2,000 different local retail outlets.
I witnessed a furniture business around the Boston area, Jordan’s furniture, move from a modest size single location to become the dominant player in the entire metro area largely on the strength of radio advertising. Conventional wisdom might have suggested that you needed television or print ads with pictures to sell furniture, but television can be very expensive and print can be less impactful. Instead, Jordan’s focused on every day “underprices” and highlighted a particularly attractive furniture deal in their typical radio ad.
While radio can drive massive sales results, it is less effective for more niche products or for testing. However, it can be a great media for many services. To get the most bang for your buck, however, you need to provide your service throughout most if not all of the region that the radio station reaches, otherwise much of your advertising expenditure is going to waste. In order to make the radio work, you need repetition on the same station in a short period of time.
The next media I draw your attention to is transit advertising. Like radio, transit ads work best with a short, simple message. And like radio, you need a repetition of images to work. However, you can test transit ads very inexpensively and you can engage in pinpoint marketing. For example, you could just by one transit ad at one station. By doing this you are getting specific geographical marketing. Also, you are getting significant repetition because many of the same people are likely to pass by the same sign, at the same station frequently.
The final media I will talk about is bulletin board advertising. I have used this for several of my early businesses. For example, for my summer bicycle rental business, one single poster I put up at one campsite brought in more business than the thousands of printed cards that I distributed at motels and other businesses, more business than from my newspaper and tourist magazine ads, and more business from my three different bike rack locations that were operated by other business people. The single poster was simple and to be honest kind of crudely done, but it got the message across and brought in the business.
Another time I did bulletin board advertising was for my JobBank books about how to get a job in different cities. With the small posters to advertise these books, I included coupons that people could use to order the book by direct mail or by phone. By targeting college bulletin boards, I was able to reach my target market and did very well with these posters. Eventually, I was approached by a firm that serviced bulletin boards for many clients and I ended up contracting with them to get posters distributed.
So, don’t write off traditional media, there may be excellent opportunities there to build your business.