These tried and true methods can help you drive sales and acquire new customers.
Sponsored Facebook posts. Blogging. Viral videos. In the age of the Internet, there’s no shortage of 21st-century marketing channels to generate buzz for your business.
But after all these years—and the innovations in marketing they’ve brought—there are still some tried and true old-fashioned methods that yield results for your small business. Here, owners and small business marketing experts share their proven old school methods for gaining attention—and market share— in a crowded marketplace.
1. Try hard copy.
It’s easy enough to get a client’s email address and send them your latest e-newsletter, but in an increasingly paperless society, there’s something about hard copy that customers almost innately value. Paul Entin, owner of epr, a marketing firm in Bloomsbury, New Jersey, says that direct mail postcards have made a tangible difference for his small business clients who are in manufacturing. "One direct mailer brought 143 people to a trade show booth when similar efforts in prior years yielded zero," Entin says.
2. Say thanks.
For Nicole Francois, owner of Market Well, a marketing agency on Mercer Island, Wash., thanking a client for their business is an old-fashioned idea that still works.
"In our fast paced society, many of us forget to say thank you," she says. "A little gratitude goes a long way. Each week make a list of three people or businesses that made a difference for you and your business. Write them a quick note (handwritten is nicest) and drop it in the mail. The other party might not mention it, but they will sure remember it."
3. Offer a sweepstakes.
Scott Hamula, a marketing communications professor at Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y., says that a tried and true old-school method—with a new-school twist—is setting up an in-store sweepstakes to get more information about your customers. "Set out a box, signage, registration slips and give away a gift certificate or product," Hamula advises. "Then, enter all the names and addresses into a database and start data-mining to develop your customer relationship management program."
The reason it works, he says, is because the people you’re contacting have already been in your store, and are now a quality lead for direct mail and email offers.
4. Reward referrals.
Francois also recommends designing a referral program for customers who bring you new business. For many of her small business clients, she designs referral rewards programs so that existing clients get to choose their reward when they refer a new client. "We have created a variety of incentive programs to thank great customers for their referrals," she says. "Whether you give a client a freebie to say thank you, add an account credit, send a gift card or flowers, your graciousness encourages clients to keep up the referrals."