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7 Old-School SMB Marketing Tricks To Put Up Your Sleeve

old school marketing

Running a small or medium-sized business isn’t easy. One of the hardest parts is figuring out how to market and promote your company. You’re not alone.

There are traditional methods like newspapers, radio and TV, along with newer media tactics including digital advertising, search marketing and social media. How will you figure out which tactics to invest your time and energy into, and what will give you the most bang for your buck?

There’s no doubt that new-school digital marketing methods are effective, but you might be neglecting traditional tried, tested and true methods that are still valuable. And with everybody rushing to the new strategies, there could be less competition back in old-school marketing.

Here are seven useful tips and tricks you can use to build a successful marketing campaign using those traditional methods of marketing.


1. Get Your Story Published in the Local Newspaper

Newspapers might seem outdated, but there are great opportunities that still exist in your local paper – especially since most papers also have a supporting website where stories are published.

Contact the Editor of the business section and show how your startup is different from all the others out there. Create a compelling story about your history, what you offer the community and how you are raising the bar in the business world. Every publication is interested in intriguing stories, and by offering a cost-effective pitch (aka free), you may be able to persuade them to write a profile-raising piece on you.


2. Talk to Magazine Editors

You may be thinking, “What? First outdated newspapers and now outdated magazines?” It’s true – magazines can be a great way to get exposure for your business, and there are plenty around looking to publish your story.

Local exposure is the best, so start with the most local publication possible. It may be a small town or niche business magazine that you target. And make sure you get links to your website included in the online version of the story so that the readers can quickly click to your business site.

Bonus: Ask the magazine if you can contribute to an ‘Ask the Expert’ column. Then provide ongoing expert pieces for them to publish, either in the print version or online.


3. Make Effective Business Cards, and Don’t Forget to Hand Them Out

Business cards are low tech but remain important for networking. Don’t leave home without them, as you never know who you’ll bump into.

Make sure your business card contains all relevant contact information, like your website address and any social media accounts – especially LinkedIn if you’re a B2B professional.

And make use of any blank space on your cards to provide details about your products, services and a reason for people to connect with you. For example, you could include a special discount only to people with your business card. That gives them a reason to hold onto your card.

Bonus: Get their business card as well, and then connect with them on LinkedIn or other social media accounts that same day. Make sure to follow-up with a message to add a personal touch to your new business relationship.


4. Set Up a Referral Program

If you have a large number of suppliers you regularly work with, set up a referral program to get your customers rewards. Imagine being able to offer your customers exclusive discounts on additional products and services? That would be reason enough to keep coming back to you.

And if you take this traditional program into the new-school, you can offer your referral program as part of your company e-newsletter. By signing up for these emails, your customers will have handy access to all the promotions at your business and other partner stores.


5. Offer Seasonal Discounts and Sales

Everyone likes a summer saving or a winter deal! It doesn’t really matter the season, just give your customers a discount for shopping at a particular time of year. Or create a theme around a seasonal holiday like Halloween, to offer Spooky Savings and Frighteningly Low Prices. There’s a certain charm to having specials around holidays, and it shows your customers that you can have a little fun with your business as well.


6. Send Good Old Fashioned Snail Mail

Mail drops are definitely old-school, but don’t underestimate them. Dropping leaflets through people’s mailboxes still has a measurable effect as long as you do this strategically. Keep your radius tight if you have a physical store location, so people will have a better chance of popping into your store.

Make sure your mailer has a clear call-to-action on it as well. Better yet, give them an incentive to hold on to that piece of mail. For example, include a code they need to enter for a website promotion or tell them to present that mailer in your store to receive a free piece of swag.

Bonus: Create a hard copy flyer, then take advantage of the message boards available at other local businesses. A flyer can be a quick, cheap and easy promotion of your company. Make sure you get permission first, and don’t forget your strong calls-to-action.


7. Connect with Your Local Chamber of Commerce

Your local Chamber of Commerce can always offer some valuable help. Make sure you join up so that you can network with other local business owners. It’s surprisingly effective to chat with other business owners in your area and learn the tactics they use to market to their customers and prospects.

Then follow the Chamber of Commerce online and make sure you attend events throughout the year. You may be able to get ongoing support and assistance that would cost thousands of dollars from third-party sources.