Mastering the old media - traditional marketing isn't over yet

Marketing for SMEs part two: master the old-school media

Posted: 4th Jan 2016

IN MY LAST post, I outlined some of the great free webtools available that small businesses and sole traders can use to help promote their endeavours. For example, social media campaigns are a great way to tap into new markets and share your ideas and expertise with like-minded individuals.But despite the march of the digital, I believe there is still a place for more traditional media and media campaigns – if you know how to get the best out of them.

And while a traditional campaign may cost you money, these days prices are more competitive than ever before, meaning it will be worth your while to seek out a good deal.

Let’s start with something really simple: your customer database. Presumably you have a clutch of regular loyal customers who come back time and again, and have willingly given you their email address or mobile phone number. Make use of this database: it is your most precious business resource, and any campaign you run should be devoted to growing it. Your aim is to foster an even deeper loyalty from those clients by providing them with extra reasons to keep coming back. Send them exclusive offers, such as two-for-one deals and discounts, or offer them previews and preferential bookings. In time, this will also generate excellent word of mouth. That’s when you should offer them an ‘introduce a friend’ deal – thus opening the door to membership of what is effectively a little club.

So, how do you do this via email? This is where excellent persuasive writing skills come into play: you will need to craft a short, snappy note to your customers to invite their interest. Its subject heading will need to be really smart to get them to open the email rather than let it fall into the trash file.

Great spelling and grammar are vital at this stage. You must impart some of your knowledge and avoid the hard sell – this tactic is very offputting. Explain to your clients why you are writing to them, and – very importantly – give them the option to opt out of future mailing should they wish.

If you are unsure of how to go about this, why not sign up to a few newsletters put together by some of your favourite brands and see how the big companies do it – you can emulate their style no matter how big or small your operation. There are also lots of tools and tips for writing here (

One final tip on email: if you’re finding your database a bit unwieldy or want to give the email itself a professional edge, check out a management service such as MailChimp ( to help you make the task easier.

You could argue that the e-newsletter has replaced the original printed newsletter but there are still times when print is the perfect medium. A short brochure is just the ticket for anyone attending a conference or roadshow – in fact its pretty inconceivable that one would hire any kind of stall without having something to dish out in a goody bag.

Again it pays to invest heavily in making sure your spelling and grammar are beyond reproach – it can be very easy to let the basics fall by the wayside when you are concentrating on what images and themes to cover in your brochure.

It is also worthwhile getting a design professional to make up your brochure, especially if you are sending it to a professional print house. They will be able to make sure all your images are of a good enough quality to use (what looks nice on screen is often much poorer in print), and that the pages are not too cluttered to read. If you don’t know any graphic designers you could start your search by asking your print shop if they know anyone.

Services can also be purchased through bidding websites like People per Hour – though these come with an element of risk in that you are likely to be putting your trust in a total stranger! If this doesn’t worry you, it could be a very rewarding experience. Don’t always be swayed by the person offering the lowest price – if it comes cheap then it’s likely to look so too.

Leaflets are as important to get right as brochures. Our temptation can be to run off something ourselves on the home computer as this is usually the most cost-effective option available. But if you do this, make sure you ask someone else to objectively assess your efforts. Ask yourself brutally honest questions about how your design looks and if it works. is there too much on the page? Does your key message stand out?

Think also about how you yourself treat leaflets and flyers – how quickly do you look at them before putting them In a bin? This is exactly what will happen to many of your flyers. With this in mind, think about the best way to maximise the chance of your leaflet becoming a conversion. This may require a targeted drop, such as spending a morning or evening leafleting outside a station or going to an event related to your business.

Make sure too that your leaflets have a purpose, such as an introductory offer or freebie. No one will want them otherwise.

Finally, do you live in an area where there are lots of free magazines? Then why not get in touch to find out what their advertising and advertorial rates are. You may be surprised to find that a small advert such as a 1/8 or 1/6 of a page is well within your budget.

Once you are on the radar of their sales team you are much more likely to be offered exclusive offers in future – such as the chance to be involved in an advertorial (usually more prominent than an ordinary ad) at a knock-down price. There is also the greater liklihood of being included in the regular news pages too.