Promoting your business is a key element to keep a steady flow of customers, clients or order for your products. Compared with 10 years ago, let alone 20 years, there can seem to be an overwhelming number of ways to do this.

However, at the heart of every good promotion is one simple principle; putting the right message in front of the right people at the right time.

Online marketing techniques and opportunities have inevitably overshadowed offline methods of promotion – which is precisely why you should go back to ‘old school’ methods. Far fewer businesses are using them but they are still highly effective!


1. Know your customers

If you’ve been in business for while, you’ll know the profile of your ideal customer for each of your services or products from experience. Most of it is common sense: you’re more likely to sell a two-seater sports car to a single person than one with six young kids.

If you don’t know your customers yet:

  • Dig into your CRM database and find out who they are
  • Ask colleagues for further details
  • Look them up on social media
  • Check back to any emails that might give you some clues about them, like they have a dog, or play ice hockey

Build a profile that is a fictional version of similar customers. So, you might think of:

“Sally, successful business woman, mid-40s, kids at college, like to dress to impress, has 5 bedroom house in the surburb of xxx.”

The more you can put yourself into your customer’s circumstances, the more you can tailor your promotional materials and activities.


2. Find your customers

Once you know the demographic profile of your ideal customers, you need to know where they “hang out”, both in the real world and on the internet. Look at:

  • Townships, areas, neighbourhoods and blocks
  • Clubs, associations and community groups
  • Leisure activities and sports
  • Media, magazines and newspapers

Devise a promotional campaign plan for EACH of the ‘hang outs’ that appeals directly to one customer in your overall target audience.


3. Take a letter, Miss Jones

When did you last receive a well-crafted letter from another business? Let alone a hand-written one addressed to you personally? You’d certainly remember that promo message! In the endless storm of half-baked, poorly presented sales emails we receive every day, hard-copy mailed letters you can hold in your hand will always stand out. This UK company has even made a business out of hand-writing & mailing notes to customers – for other businesses!


4. Personalise and customise

A personalised message is always better than a “Dear Sir/Madam” approach. Try and find out as much as possible about business prospects you want to approach. Start with a search for the company on LinkedIn. If you are already connected with someone who is connected with someone at that business, you’ll be shown the contact names and job titles. You’ll be amazed how many people you can see – a recent search revealed over 400 names, thanks to us being connected to just three or four networking contacts! That’s all you’ll need to post new prospects something directly to their desks, once you add a company address.


5. Be persistent

In theatre there is an old rule of thumb; a person needs to see a poster, flyer brochure, or advert for a show six times before they’ll buy a ticket. With so much information competing for brain space, messages that we see often tend to stick. So, mailing a single flyer probably won’t cut it. However, don’t send the same flyer every week for six weeks either. Variety is the key. For some entertaining old-school ideas, including doorstep bespoke gift deliveries, check out Dave Lakhani’s book “How To Sell When Nobody’s Buying: (And How to Sell Even More When They Are)”. Written 10 years ago, the title is still as relevant now as then…


6. Press releases

If you’ve something worth saying, or a story worth telling, make sure your local media know all about it. Many newspaper and media outlets have a form on their website where you can submit stories. Make sure you have high quality images available, and attach them/upload them/include them if possible.

The key is to write the press release for the media outlet you’re targeting. DON’T send a standard press release to every one. Local press need a local angle, a young mom’s magazine a kids angle, etc. If you write it well, and in the media outlet’s style, you stand a better chance that they will reproduce it word for word.


7. Ask (and ye should receive)

At networking events, there is often an opportunity to ask fellow attendees for recommendations for leads to people they might know. Simply do the same whenever the occasion arises, with friends, colleagues, club members, your hairdresser, etc. If you do get a lead, follow it up quickly so as not to disappoint the person who gave you that lead. Equally, don’t hassle the same people time after time – one request to many people over time is better than annoying your ‘best’ contacts!


8. Help a reporter out

Ever wondered how business leaders and your competitors alike get quoted in news articles? Chances are, they are signed up to HARO, aka Help a Reporter Out. Reporters pose questions or ask for contacts for articles they are researching. You can submit an answer or a viewpoint for them to include in their articles. That puts your business on their radar and a possible mention and/or link to your business in print and/or online. Yes, it does take a little time to sift through the requests, but the rewards could be big.


9. Build your email list

It’s a sign of progress that email marketing is now considered old-school. It can be highly effective, but again it’s a case of targeting your customers at the right time with the right offer. Also, be aware that under data protection legislation, any personal information, including emails that contain a name, must not be used for any purpose other than those for which it was collected, unless the customer has given their consent. So, make sure your first email campaign is personalised to your existing or previous customers first, and contains relevant information or offers tailored to them. You must also offer an option to unsubscribe. For more information on data protection see this link.

The other crucial change to old-school text emails is that now emails need to look inviting – and be short. Remember, a percentage of recipients will be viewing emails on a mobile phone screen. Sending emails through an established email marketing service such as MailChimp enables you to easily design attractive emails, collects stats on which emails get opened, and effectively manage returned emails and unsubscribe requests.


10. Join your local Chamber of Commerce

Your local Chamber of Commerce offers a wide range of promotional and marketing opportunities, including regular networking events. If you’re already a member, check our Chamber benefits page on this website to make sure you’re getting the most from your membership, or call our General Manager Kim Whitehead to discuss further.