There’s no question that, in the majority of cases and for the majority of companies, digital marketing of one type or another is the way to go. Digital allows for outreach to more people in less time, allows for quick changes and updates, and allows for multi-media experiences that there’s simply no way to offer in a more analog format. Print magazines are going straight digital in ever increasing numbers, traditional advertising agencies are working more and more on digital content, companies are devoting more and more resources to online and mobile marketing, and just across the board the tide is changing in an obvious way. So in a somewhat strange way, this may be exactly the time to try some good old fashioned, analog, physical, hard copy marketing techniques, simply because fewer and fewer people are. But don’t get confused, this isn’t an excuse to go back to run of the mill flyers and grocery store sample tables. The key to incorporating some analog strategies into an otherwise largely digital marketing plan is to remember what is really distinct about a non-digital experience. What senses and experiences can we not duplicate through a website or an app or social media? Things like texture, scent, flavor, and lighting. This is the time to leverage the things that you can’t do better or cheaper or in a more efficient or better controlled way via a digital medium. Be choosy and intentional about how and when you use the strategies below, and they can be real home runs.
High-end, boutique magazines
Magazines that have been in a traditional print format for decades are going to a digital only format, largely in response to how people want to read and the costs of production, so why would you want to jump into what some people would call a dying format? Because you have the opportunity to create a luxurious, richly tactile experience if you have the resources to devote to it. Don’t get caught up in feeling like you need to produce a magazine every month or even every quarter, and focus perhaps instead on using them periodically as part of very specific campaigns. Remember that this needs to be a high-end, unique experience. You’re not looking for a grocery store check-out line style magazine with thin paper and low cost printing. You want super quality paper, richly saturated and perfectly executed printing, and artistically crafted page layout. Your goal is to create something that people will want to hold onto and savor, rather than breezing through in a few minutes and tossing in the recycling.
It’s not just about people loving free stuff (though let’s be honest here, of course they do), but it’s about the fact that sometimes the only way to really explain to someone what is so great about your product is to get them to experience it. Send the real product out there, whether it’s by mail to a vetted list of likely buyers or with a street team into a busy neighborhood or packaged along with another product as part of a cross-branding effort. Describing goes a long way, beautiful ad copy goes a long way, but the actual, honest to goodness product in people’s hands is still not something we can duplicate. This is why Apple created stores and why they’re arranged the way they are, to get people to touch and interact with the products instead of just looking at them. Whether people who get to sample or experience a product buy in store that day or not, they’ll be more likely to buy period if they’ve seen it, touched it, tasted it, or otherwise had the true experience of using a product.
Even more than magazines, this is a strategy that demands extremely quality to be effect. Somehow still even in 2014, I get direct mailings just about every day that simply get tossed after a two second glance, so you have to find a way to combat that. For example, a beautiful glossy postcard with gorgeous art that makes people want to keep it can keep your brand in people’s awareness if the postcard stays on their fridge or bulletin board. One side can be the gorgeous art that people are drawn in by and want to hold onto, the other side can be the relevant marketing information about the business or the product, and not only have you gotten that information out there to people, but you’ve made them want to keep it. This is not the time to do a Penny Saver ad or something else that’s a generic throw away, you want to make a real point to take advantage of something of the opportunity to create something that can get into people’s homes and make them want to keep it there.
Whether we’re talking about pop-up stores, sampling events, or sponsored sections at larger events (like booths at festivals or similar), the key is to find a way to combine your brand story with the experience people are going to have. You’re associating a specific, physical event that someone is experiencing with your brand and your product, so this is a time when having a clear understanding of who your target audience is and what your brand story is is going to be critical to figuring out when and how to stage an event. Like with digital content marketing, remember that this is not about your product in most cases, it’s not about a marketing spiel, it’s about contributing to people you want to be your customers or who are already your customers having a specific experience.
Digital is going nowhere, and will continue to dominate the marketing efforts of companies more and more, but until we’ve developed a way to allow for us to have all of our senses engaged through digital content, sometimes good old fashioned, in the flesh, analog work is the way to go. Use it judiciously, use it intentionally, and it can offer a true stand out experience for your customers. If you had to come up with one way to employ one of these (or another) non-digital tactics right now, what would it be? Share in the comments!