From the April 2007 issue of Entrepreneur

A smart, new advertising strategy has taken hold among major advertisers. It involves using traditional offline media for a single and vital purpose--enticing qualified prospects to a website. Advertising that's designed to be an opening salvo and send traffic to a website is hot and can be used to great advantage by marketers with smaller budgets.

Your website provides an ideal space to tell a complete story that propels prospects toward a purchase. Here's how to integrate your offline and online media and messages to successfully inform and motivate potential customers.

Develop Your Strategy
Every effective integrated marketing campaign begins with strategic thinking. What story are you telling? Will your prospective customers be intrigued by a comprehensive product selection or a unique service offer, for example? The creative strategy behind your integrated marketing campaign must have unique appeal and a strong pull to grab attention and entice prospects to look for more.

An integrated campaign uses multiple forms of media to carry through the central theme. Determine which media will reach your best prospects and how you will tell your story in each. Most media allow you to "touch" prospects only briefly. So your first step in campaign development is to consider what your message will be and how it will send prospects from point A (media that allow only the briefest copy) to point B (your website, where they'll get the full story).

Tease With Offline Media
Major advertisers use magazine ads, TV spots, outdoor ads, direct mail and other media to drive customers to their websites, and so can you. In fact, the better you get at integrated marketing, the lower your offline advertising costs may be. Once you simplify your offline advertising message and place your fuller story on the web, the message in your offline ads should require less repetition to be effective.

Magazine ads: There are special-interest consumer and B2B trade publications to reach every audience, and in many cases their readers consider the ads important sources of information. The key to sending magazine readers to your website is to have a strong call to action and to place the most important information, your URL, high up and to the right side of your ad to make it the focus of attention.

TV spots: If you're a local TV advertiser, it can be challenging to communicate your full story in 30 seconds. Switch to an integrated marketing strategy and use your spots to drive viewers to your website.

Outdoor advertising: Billboards are ideal "teaser" media because they mandate a short, compelling message. A few billboards in high-traffic locations that tie into an enticing offer can quickly send a different kind of traffic to your site.

Direct mail: B2B and consumer marketers can reduce the high cost of multi-piece direct mail by replacing it with more affordable and less complex postcard mailings. With an integrated campaign, your direct-mail message can be brief, so long as it motivates prospects to visit your site.

Make a Great Offer
Need help deciding what call to action will work in offline media to entice prospects? For an integrated campaign that draws a crowd, try one of these ideas:

  • A limited-time, free or discount offer
  • The chance to see, learn or experience something new
  • A pass to an event
  • A customer reward
  • A fun experience such as a game or a movie
  • A contest, poll or vote
  • In-depth information
  • A deeper product selection or step up in service
  • A subscription or membership
  • The opportunity to make a difference
  • A special guide or white paper
  • A pathway to taking part in the community

Contact marketing expert Kim T. Gordon, author of Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars: The Top 50 Ways to Grow Your Small Business, at www.smallbusinessnow.com. Her new e-book, Big Marketing Ideas for Small Budgets, is available exclusively from Entrepreneur at www.smallbizbooks.com.