I recently gave a presentation at my local Meetup group, The North Georgia Entrepreneurs Group about how to combine online and print advertising. I thought I would share some of my notes, resources, and ideas on the matter for you guys here on the blog.
Is print marketing dead?
We here it all the time that print is dead. But what does that really mean for us as freelancers? Obviously this is a big deal for industries that have relied on print for such a long time. News, magazines, and direct mail marketing are all industries that need to find a way to adapt in order to survive. This isn’t new information and something many of us have been saying for a long time. But, have you ever stopped to think about how this effects the little guy?
I am under the belief that as print “dies” it will actually become more popular. As the use of print fades, it will actually become more of a novelty and thus attract more attention when used.
Think about it, its always the fads that die out ad then come back that seem to get the most attention.
Why still use print media for marketing and advertising?
Wither you want to admit it or not, there will always be a place for print advertising. However, it will never be as important as it once was. Odds are, there will always be a need for business cards, postcard flyers, and other simple print related products. Even if there isn’t always a need for these items, you will always have people who prefer them to the digital format, or in addition to it.
Another thing to remember about printed materials is that some industry call for them a lot more than others. Some industries have a much greater need for printed materials and probably always will. Places like restaurants, photographers, and artists will always have a need for these things.
What online marketing is best for me?
There are 1001+ books, websites, blogs, and podcasts out there to answer this question. I will however, speak from my own experience as a designer on how I have used online marketing. Obviously I use a blog and vidcasts as a marketing tool to help build up my brand. This is something everyone should be doing in some shape form or fashion. I’m not suggesting you go out and create a “me too” type design blog, but rather one that your clients can look at and see you as a professional based on what you have to say.
I also use some online advertising to help drive traffic to my business websites. I do a little direct advertising on websites who visitors are likely to need a website design. Places to like blogging blogs, niche business websites, and other similar areas. I also occasionally use Google Adsense when I first launch a new site to test out its content and layout.
How do I combine the print and online marketing?
Now this is the true $100,000 question isn’t it? The truth is, there is no real easy way to track the ROI of print advertising for your online business. There are a number of techniques you can do to help give you a better picture of the success of print marketing, but it is still really nothing more than a guess. Below I will outline a few various ways you can use printed materials to help drive traffic to your company website:
1. Turn Your Business Card Into a Coupon
If you are like many small business owners, you give out or leave your business card with almost every person you come in contact with. While the traditional business card is a business staple, many people underestimate its value as a marketing tool. Yes, having your contact information on it is important, but is that really enough to get people to visit your website? Why not turn your business card into a coupon? Adding a simple line that says, “redeem this card for a free social media strategy consultation” is a lot more likely to get people to contact you.
2. Create a Synergy Between Your Print and Online Image
Many designers already know that keeping a cohesive look between ads, website, and marketing materials is important. But, you would be pretty surprised ( or maybe you wont!) at how many small business owners aren’t aware of just how important this is. Using your logo on all your materials is not enough to create a cohesive look. You need to make sure things like colors, fonts, photos, logos, all match up. You don’t want someone thinking they went to the wrong website because it looks nothing like the flyer they have do you?
3. Create a Custom Landing Page for Printed Materials
First, let me say that this is not the same thing as creating a custom URL to try to track ROI from printed materials. Adding a www.mysite.com/nytimes url to your ad the auto redirects to your homepage is a fools attempt to track conversions. The majority of people out there, even the dumbest ones, are smart enough to know they don’t need to type that into the browser. What you need to do is create a landing page that is specific to your printed material and that persuades them to visit that url directly. For example, say your are a wedding photographer, you could create a custom landing page with a contest for seniors to get a free 8×10 print. In this instance, people are a lot more likely to visit the contest url before the root url, thus helping you track your ROI from printed materials.
4. The Power of Curiosity
Many small business owners are afraid of this tactic, but many could greatly profit from it. That said, this idea won’ work for everyone. The idea here is to say as little about your business as possible. For example, if you were a designer, try only printing your website url on the card. Obviously you can’t really track this method, but it is still worth while. Many people will be intrigued at what you do and want to see what you are all about. On a side not though, you need to have a somewhat descriptive url for this to work well.
5. Drive Traffic from Your Website to Your Printed Material
Say what?!? How does this work you are probably asking yourself. This is another tactic that requires a little more work, but one that could work very well for the right business and industry. The idea here is to make your customers have to do some work to be able some sort of discount or special from you. One idea here is to blog about a special on your website. Then tell your readers in order to get it, they must find your “secret flyer” at local downtown retailer. If launched correctly, this could lead to a nice little viral marketing campaign.