Moving from digital marketing to digital and physical or offline-only can be confusing and difficult. Whether you’re accustomed to marketing or are looking for new strategies and best practices for your first campaigns, offline marketing is both vastly similar and dramatically different from digital marketing. With no option to push marketing content to a set number of people, no way to tailor your message to individuals expressing interest in specific items or objects, and no real way to measure impressions and impact without directly surveying consumers, offline marketing adds in a great deal of new elements and challenges.
These offline marketing best practices will get you started with simple principles to guide your OOH marketing efforts.
Respect Customer Autonomy
Whether you’re using calling, direct-mail, or even handing out banners and flyers as part of your offline marketing strategy, it’s important to respect the customer’s autonomy. You likely know that most people find it invasive to receive texts or emails they didn’t opt into, but many find it equally or more invasive to receive physical content they didn’t opt into.
This means that strategies like cold-calling and cold-mailing are off the table unless you don’t necessarily care about how the customer feels about your business. If you send an unsolicited email, you will likely go into a spam folder. The same principle applies to cold-calling and direct-mail. If you want to use these tactics, create an opt-in list, attend events and offer workshops to generate opt-ins and interest before using them.
Integrate Digital Signage
Digital signage or DOOH is one of the most powerful offline marketing tools at your disposal. LCD screens are cheaper, more efficient, and easier to update than ever before. Most digital signage software effortlessly links entire networks of signage to offer tools such as self-help, wayfinding kiosks, and digital posters and billboards, which you can update in a matter of minutes.
Signage is extremely valuable for third-party advertising (you can easily update new ads), placement around shops and stores, and for a combination of product and brand marketing. For example, malls and shopping areas can use digital signage to advertise products available in the area, while earning revenue from third-party sellers. Individual shops and stores can use signage at end-of-aisle and point-of-sale touchpoints to drive interest, offer product comparisons, and to upsell or make final-product offers before individuals leave the store. And, technologies including real-time data synchronization and audience recognition mean you can tailor ads to audiences in ways that previously were not possible offline.
Tie in Social Media and Digital Marketing
Social media and digital marketing tactics are increasingly available offline through digital signage. Here, you can link social media campaigns and images into digital signage and video walls, prompting real-time engagement. Customers can share images of purchases to see themselves on the wall, check in via Facebook or Instagram to see their check-in, or otherwise see in immediate reward for interacting on social. This can be hugely beneficial because people often respond well when asked to engage with social in a physical medium.
Other digital marketing tactics, such as digital ads with integrated product listings can also help. For example, customers can touch an ad, see the price and a map to it in-store, or the option to purchase it online at a kiosk. Touchscreen digital signage also easily functions as an ordering point for products that are out of stock, allowing customers and employees to quickly place an order before the customer leaves the store and searches elsewhere.
Other ways to integrate Physical Digital or “Phygital” include integrating signage or tablets where customers can request items in dressing rooms, creating geo beacons to recognize individual customers or their phones to share coupons or other offers, and offering more personalization to customers who share their data and a recognized account.
Create Local PR
While digital marketing is often aimed at a very wide audience, physical marketing must, by nature, be aimed at a very small and local audience. You cannot always control which demographics see your ads, but you can take steps to create a strong brand image in your local community. This means identifying your community, which parts of it include your demographic, and working to identify how you could best reach them.
For example, you may be able to connect with consumers at local events, through local newspapers and magazines, local talk and radio shows, or even by establishing billboards at key locations across town. Here, you should engage with news and media in your area to allow them to help drive advertising for you. You can also engage in community outreach through sponsoring or participating in local events and fairs or workshops, even when they’re not directly about what you do, so long as they appeal to or offer value to your target audience.
Offline marketing is often boring simply because most businesses take a tried-and-true approach without much creativity. Unfortunately, most people simply don’t respond to standard product ads unless they specifically wanted to make a purchase or they are standing next to the product and most won’t engage with brand ads unless they were already interested. Your goal should be to take a creative approach to offline marketing to draw attention, engage consumers, and drive real interest.
For example, you can add social media feeds to digital signage to create direct engagement. You can tie in weather to offer whether relevant clothing ads. You could create a campaign to clean up the neighborhood, marketing your brand to eco-conscious individuals. Taking a creative approach to your offline marketing will help you to stand out so that consumers notice and remember your ads and your brand.
Offline marketing is still important, despite the mass defection of many businesses to online-only. Here, you can escape the over-saturation of digital ads, reach people when they want to shop, and offer real value in the form of ads with product or brand information. While your approach will vary depending on your business and what you are selling or whether you’re driving third-party ads or your own, these best practices will help you to create offline advertising campaigns that work.