Know Your Options
But direct marketing isn't your only offline alternative. Guerilla marketing, requiring you and your employees to distribute your company-branded merchandise to customers face-to-face, can increase traffic. Outdoor ads, like placing posters, postcards and stickers in highly-visible locations are another form of guerilla marketing. Also, make sure to put your URL everywhere, including stationery, promotional materials, packaging, receipts and more.
But as important as offline advertising is, experts say the best way to get Web site customers is a combination of online and offline promotions. And the messages have to jibe: If your online message says one thing and your offline another, you'll confuse customers.
"You can't have a flashy tag line with smart graphics online, while maintaining a less sophisticated program offline," says Andrea Grenadier of Kirshner & Co. Inc., an agency in Alexandria, Virginia, that works with Web start-ups on ad strategies. "The two really have to work together to get your message out properly."
Wanna' see how the offline direct-marketing thing works? Here's a step-by-step look at how Jim Daniels of JDD Publishing, implemented his campaign:
- First, Daniels decided how many catalogs to send out. Then he went to the local post office to purchase a yearly bulk-mail permit ($115). This permit enables him to mail hundreds of catalogs at inexpensive rates.
- Daniels fed the names and addresses from his substantial database into a bulk-mail program that processes his mail into the format required by the post office. After researching a few of these programs, Daniels went with MyDeluxeMailList and MyPostageRateSaver CD for a total cost of $149. These software programs let him receive automation rates by filtering out non-U.S. addresses, purging duplicate addresses, setting up and bar-coding labels, and sorting bulk mail by ZIP code for processing.
- Daniels used an in-house designer to design his catalog (cost: less than $1,000 for the whole job), and made sure his company's bulk-mail permit was printed on every copy.
- A reasonably priced printer was hired-and 5,000 catalogs were printed for $1,450. Daniels made sure to print some extras.
- Daniels slapped address labels on each catalog and took them to the post office for shipping.
Melissa Campanelli is a technology writer in Brooklyn, New York, who has covered technology for Mobile Computing & Communications and Sales & Marketing Management magazines. You can reach her at email@example.com.