Old School Marketing Ideas Local Small Businesses Should Still Use



old school marketing ideasWith some updated ideas and integration of social media, these tried and proven, back-to-basics marketing strategies and tactics can still be effective generating sales leads, inquiries and revenue for small businesses in a local market

In a world of online marketing and social media, sometimes tried and proven marketing tactics can be a refreshing change of pace. Remember the days when mail was something you touched and you actually spoke with real people?

These old school marketing ideas should not be forgotten. In fact, they should continue to be embraced by local small businesses because they are proven to be effective in generating local sales leads and inquiries with an ongoing effect on your bottom line.

And with a new spin on these “vintage” marketing ideas – such as taking advantage of online technology or integrating them with new social media networks – you can tap into these strategies and tactics at lower-costs and increase your sales productivity.

Reviving Old School Marketing Ideas and Strategies for Local Businesses

What’s old is new again. It may be time to revive some of your old school marketing tactics with some new ideas and strategies. Here are some ideas for reviving marketing tactics that still prove to be effective with local small businesses.

Testimonials. May I get your referral? Back in the day customer referrals and testimonials were huge for small businesses – word of mouth referrals was one of the only ways some local businesses would market their services. And today in an increasingly competitive market with big brand chains, testimonials are more important than ever to generate new businesses. Customers and clients are always looking for a good local business that is trustworthy, reliable and delivers a quality product or service. And when you get them, use your testimonials everywhere… in your advertising, on your website and throughout your direct marketing efforts.

Business cards drop-offs. Business cards are still a handy thing to keep on file – even in the digital age. They are small, compact and full of basic information to get in touch with your business. And since they are so cheap to print these days, you may as well make them available everywhere you can within your local market. Drop them off at local businesses or pin them up on bulletin boards at local stores and supermarkets. Make sure you leave a business card behind when you make a face-to-face visit – even if they are already a customer they can hold onto an extra card to hand out with a referral. You can also build your social media network with business cards by incorporating your social media account into the business card content and design.

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Door hangers. As you make your local rounds prospecting, dropping off a “door hanger” with your business information and contact information is a great low-cost way to make a direct mail impact without paying the postage. They are like big postcards with a hook at the end to go over a door handle, and when printed digitally in bulk can be very cheap to produce (as little as 5 or 10 cents a piece if you print in a bigger quantity). The good thing about door hangers is that they provide a lot of space for your photos, messaging, location map, store hours, contact information and more.

Direct mail. Direct mail used to be a very time-consuming and expensive marketing tactic for local businesses. To do it right, most businesses had to work with a mail house that specialized in mailing services. Nowadays, online direct mail printing and mailing services make it much easier and cost-effective. A simple postcard mailer with high quality, low-cost digital printing can help keep your businesses in front of local prospects and generate an ongoing pipeline of sales leads and inquiries.

Ads in local coupon mailers. Jump on the local mailing bandwagon by inserting your ad in local mailers full of other offers from local businesses. Coupon and deal mailers can be a cheaper alternative to your own individual direct mail campaign because they bundle the cost of targeted list services, printing and postage. There are a variety of formats to choose from these days – from envelopes full of postcard sized sheets to local coupon offers gathered in a magazine style. Most direct mail “value packs” or “clipper magazines” offer highly targeted options to serve your offer to specific geographic areas your local business serves. With clearly defined offers or coupons they can be an excellent sales lead and revenue generator for your local business.

Vehicle marketing. Turn your sales or delivery vehicles into mobile billboards with signage that increases brand impressions and sales lead opportunities. As your vehicles drive around in your local territory, this is a free opportunity to market your business to local customers and prospects. Creative vehicle marketing ideas range from simple car magnets with contact information that are very cheap to produce, to eye-catching full vehicle wrap graphics that can be a wise investment for your local marketing strategy.

Telephone calls. With email, texting, social media and other new media methods dominating communications these days, sometimes a good old fashioned phone call is a welcome change. Actually speaking on the phone, hearing your customer’s voice and letting them hear your voice can sometimes be the personal edge needed to break through new media clutter.

Integrated New Social Media Technology with Old School Marketing Tactics

These old school marketing tactics are a very back-to-basics approach to local marketing, but they can also be updated by integrating new social media technology and tools. Old school marketing tactics can complement your social media marketing efforts… and integrating social media can help get you a bigger bang for your buck with your other marketing efforts.

Here are some quick examples of how you can update tried and proven marketing tactics with new social media technology:

  • Encourage your customers to place their testimonials on review sites like Angie’s List or Yelp Tweet, Share and Like any mentions of your business to maximize exposure
  • Use coupon and local deal sites like Groupon or Living Social to complement your local direct mail offers
  • Include Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn messaging on your printed door hangers, business cards or coupon mailers
  • Add mobile QR codes on your printed marketing materials to make them interactive
  • Use Skype for high-tech phone calls that also save you money on your phone bills

A back-to-basic marketing approach updated with some new media technology tools can position your local small business as innovative yet still connected within your local market.




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With nearly 30 years of integrated marketing experience, Diane is the founder of SBMarketingTools.com and author of the award-winning book PR Tools to Toot Your Own Horn. Diane also runs Marine Marketing Tools, a site that bridges her passion for boating and small business marketing, and two boating lifestyle sites: MyBoatLife.com and BoaterKids.com.