Marketing is the foundation of any business. Whether your output is a service or a product, reaching your customers is the most important aspect of your day to day business life. That is why adapting to changes in the marketing landscape is absolutely essential for both the survival and progression of your business. At the moment, this means understanding the way in which the internet has impacted marketing for small businesses.
While the growth of the internet has brought huge changes to the industry of marketing, many businesses have interpreted the necessary move as absolute; neglecting print marketing almost altogether. In truth, the businesses which are seeing the most success as a result of their marketing strategies are utilising a cleverly balanced split between both digital and print marketing techniques.
In many respects the growth of digital marketing has actually meant positive things for print marketing. In the past, print marketing had become a battle for cost-effective strategies as businesses were forced to provide sufficient information in the confines of print, whilst at the same time striving to maintain an eye-catching and simplistic design.
The Rise of the QR Code
Today, print marketing campaigns can be linked to digital campaigns, making use of QR codes to send customers to their web sites for further information on linked promotions and such. Small businesses can further utilise the QR code technology with their business cards. Every card you give out is an investment and traditional businesses cards rely on the recipient of your card to type in your email or web address etc. Why not have a QR code printed on your card and enable your recipient to scan it straight in-cutting out the error-prone typing part?
You can take the QR code one step further and use it to drive traffic to your mobile site. You don’t need me to tell you that M-commerce (mobile commerce) is exploding and that the small businesses can and take advantage of this channel. Businesses need to be fully aware of how to build a website which not only performs as an aesthetically pleasing and functional standalone page but which can also be linked to print campaigns.
Businesses that are linking their print and digital marketing strategies will see the importance of creating a mobile web design – be it dedicated or responsive – so that customers using mobile devices to interact with printed marketing will benefit accordingly. For example, if you are a restaurant leafleting potential customers in a certain area why not print a small QR code that activates a navigation application (like Google Maps) directing your customers to your restaurant?
While linking print and digital marketing is absolutely key, small businesses mustn’t rely on this link throughout the entirety of their digital marketing. One of the most important platforms for digital marketing at the moment is social media. Almost regardless of your target market, a large proportion of your potential customers will be using social networking sites. These offer businesses the chance to interact with their customers for next to nothing.
The real advantage of social media for small businesses is that it places them on a far more level playing field with larger firms. In the past it has been marketing which has seen smaller firms lose out to those with a larger marketing fund.
Moreover, in the past businesses could only drive their print readers to the website, but with the advent of social media, businesses can drive visitors to a trusted platform where they feel safe interacting with the brand.
Now, using platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus, smaller firms can actually encourage their customers to take part in marketing campaigns.
The ability to direct readers of your print marketing materials to a social media platform is invaluable as it allows small businesses to engage with their visitors and present a vast amount of content to them that wouldn’t otherwise get the sign off. Can you imagine being able to justify sending a picture of a dog with your product to your customers?
Innocent Drinks can post this content because they have carefully curated their Facebook followers through print marketing such as voucher and packaging. Look at any of their products and you can see a call to join their Facebook group and they are a great example of combining online and offline print marketing.
Firms need to be aware of the way in which digital media is developing in order to get the most from the opportunity to reach their customers with minimal expenditure. While online marketing is in itself very cheap, businesses shouldn’t shy away from making the financial investments necessary to stay ahead of their competitors. Part of this investment is in embracing print marketing and realising what it can do to boost your digital campaigns.