One is a dangerous number

No businesses can rely on just one marketing mechanism. As a matter of fact ‘one’ is a pretty dangerous number in business:

    •    one major supplier
    •    one vital employee
    •    one main customer

In the 'olden days', if your business for example used Yellow Pages as its only promotional mechanism, a ‘Not happy Jan!’ moment was a severe blow.

’Not happy, Jan!’ was the catchcry of a business owner left out of the Yellow Pages by a forgetful employee - Jan - in the ad campaign in Australia and the UK for the company several years ago; the ad of course could not be corrected for a year.

Today's newer equivalent is reliance on high rankings in Google – one algorithm update or a decision that you are breaching the rules (the ‘Google slap’) can remove you from the rankings entirely, or reliance on Facebook.

All pages and information on Facebook belong to Facebook and they’ve been known to shut pages down with no notice whatsoever and without giving a reason.

Evaluate additional marketing tactics

With everyone's focus on online and social media, other 'old fashioned' conventional marketing methods are being ignored. Direct mail for example.

Although direct mail is more expensive than online and email marketing, here are some of the reasons it’s worth considering including in your marketing mix:

    •    not subject to same strict anti spam rules
    •    unlike email, you can just rent a targeted list and send to it without worrying about spam implications
    •    you can be more creative in print
    •    designed correctly, your mailing piece has potentially a longer ‘life’ than email
    •    can be read anywhere
    •    can be used to target people who are not computer/internet focussed (more than you might imagine)

Getting different marketing tactics to work together

The most successful companies have taken all of this a step further and have cracked the code of getting online and offline campaigns to work together – with for example direct mail driving traffic to the website and the website asking for mailing addresses from online visitors.

Take an example from Canada a few years ago – a marketing campaign by Staples, one of the largest stationery and office products companies in North America.

Staples decided to test once and for all which was better – the conventional print marketing put out by their offline team or the digital marketing put out by their online team.

So they divided up their database and did a test – one batch went via print only, one via email only, and a third batch got both an email and a print flyer.

Interestingly, the test didn’t answer the question, as the digital only and print only campaigns saw a very similar response rate.

Here’s the kicker, though: the combined print/digital campaign pulled six times the response rate of either of the other two individual campaigns.

My experience

A while back, when I set up a site for fans of Italian cars (it's still there, but not updated as frequently as before -, the original focus was on promoting it exclusively online, but I soon found that offline promotion worked really well to drive people to the site.

I got some reasonably smart looking fridge magnets made, and would give them away instead of business cards, often leaving them under the windscreen wipers of Italian cars I spotted (or throwing them on the seats of the open top Ferraris etc when parked!).

The magnets were a talking point and a simple and fun way of promoting the site. The site went on to hit a peak of 75,000 visitors a month based on a mix of off and online promotion.

(this article is an updated version of an article that originally appeared in December 2015)