Offline Marketing – Still Relevant for Small Businesses?

June 12, 2012 in Marketing, Small Business by lizbygrave

by Marcia MacLeod

I’m advertising my magazine, Your Allotment, in three local newspapers this month. In a world dominated by email, web sites and social media, some people might consider anyone who uses off-line marketing channels for their small business to be crazy, or, if they want to be polite, behind the times – but there are actually several reasons for bucking the trend.

Think about it. First of all, people do still read the local press, especially when it’s free. Have you seen the number of people picking up the Ham & High when they exit the tube station on Friday night? Or noticed the bins full of free papers like the Camden New Journal on Thursday are nearly empty by the following Wednesday, just waiting for the new edition? If, for every 50 people who leaf through the newspaper, even 10% notice an ad, it’s got to make any small business a little bit bigger.

And then, too, as we are all absolutely inundated with emails, electronic newsletters, and marketing material, not to mention requests to be friends on Facebook and connected on LinkedIn and numerous Twitter feeds, off-line marketing might just attract attention, if for no other reason than it is different. Potential customers might delete nine out of every 10 emails, but put hard-copy, off-line material in front of them and they might find it so intriguing they actually read it.

Off-line marketing doesn’t have to take the form of an ad, either. Remember those local newspapers? Send them a press release: they might not publish it, but if they do, editorial is worth a thousand ads.

Put leaflets anywhere you can, too: a shop, a library notice board, or even through local letter-boxes. I can’t be the only person who keeps takeaway menus and checks the other junk meal for news of new shops, services and any discounts on offer.

Knowing your customers helps determine where, when and even if off-line marketing might work for your small business. Someone selling iPhone cases might as well turn their leaflets into papier mache to make more products, since their audience is as likely to respond to a direct (hard copy) mail shot as it is to buy a double CD of hits of the ’60s. But my customers are a different animal altogether: for most, growing their own is as much an escape from the modern world as it is a chance to produce fresh food untouched by chemical sprays and plastic wraps. Some allotment growers don’t even bring their mobile phones to their plots!

However, even off-line marketing has its technological moments: don’t forget to put your web site address on every advert, press release, leaflet and brochure. After all, you don’t want to be seen to be a dinosaur!

Marcia MacLeod is a copywriter and journalist. More info can be found at

Marcia also produces Your Allotment Magazine