The Modern Marketing Strategy Every Business Should Start Using Today Reach your prospects effectively with this innovative marketing strategy.

By Shaun Buck

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Prasit photo | Getty Images

What does your company's marketing portfolio look like?

20 years ago, the average portfolio was filled with pieces -- known as collateral -- like advertisements, brochures, phone scripts or television spots.Some were there to pique interest in a product. Others pointed out a problem that the marketing company could solve for the potential buyer. As the prospect went along, another piece would answer questions. At the end of the road, after the sale, a final piece of collateral could collect feedback, congratulate the purchaser for buying or help the product stick and offer further information.

In 1997, that portfolio would have generated massive sales and likely created millions of dollars in new revenue for a company per year.

Fast forward a few years, and the world shifted to a mindset that old media was dead. We'd hear online and in magazines that print was dead, and as a result, most people shifted their portfolios to nearly 100 percent digital.

Today, we're in the process of another major shift, and that is to a world where success will come with a combination of online and offline strategies. Companies that recognize this shift early will have an advantage over their competitors.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask Before Determining Your Target Market

The shift back toward print

The collective shift to digital-only happened just as new and exciting technology was taking shape. Companies were able to buy banner ads for a few dollars and get hundreds of new leads. Clicks on Google could be had for pennies per click, and it appeared that this new digital-only strategy was going to drastically decrease the costs per new lead and ultimately cut customer acquisition costs (CAC).

With so many leads and new customers coming in the front door for such a small amount of money per person, there was a ton of sloppy marketing and follow-up happening. This was totally understandable as business was booming. But, as the media and platforms matured, the competition for those eyeballs increased, the complexity of using the media increased, and the overall effectiveness of the media decreased. This led to increased costs per lead and increased CAC.

At the same time, we've seen a shift in the buying process. Customers no longer have to rely on sales people for new information on any given product or service. They are able to do all the research they want on you and 100 other competitors before making one of three decisions: buy, don't buy or buy later.

Related: 5 Low-Cost Ways to Make a Marketing Splash in Your Local Community (Infographic)

Change in tactics

Marketing professional Mike Blackmore of Harms Auto Groups says, "Advertising today is more about interruption and intrusion than compelling narratives or a good laugh. We don't add value. If anything, we often take it away."

For many of us, this is the type of marketing we grew up with -- hard sales, pushy tactics, close-at-all-costs strategies -- but today, people simply don't want to spend money with a company that treats them like a number. As our economy has shifted to one of informed buyers, our tactics have also needed to shift, although many businesses haven't adapted.

Old is new again

With all the advertising clutter in the marketplace, sending direct mail to a person's mailbox has again become one of the best ways to reach prospects. Many companies are finding that by creating an online/offline marketing strategy that focuses on helping prospects find a solution to their problems, their sales are soaring.

Newsletters are becoming more and more necessary for a company's marketing portfolio. Addressed to a specific person and different than anything else in the mailbox, when done correctly, a newsletter is a piece of mail that inspires people to look inside. To them, it's a piece of education and entertainment -- not an advertisement.

Once your clients open your newsletter, your cover letter should pull them in. The personal stories and friendly tone inside don't sound like advertising, and in time, your clients stop seeing the newsletter as an advertisement at all. The articles inside reinforce that. Whether it's an in-depth article about a solution you have to their problem, a few jokes or an amazing article that helps your readers improve their lives, none of it is trying to sell them anything. That pulls them in.

Later, you send them a postcard, a handwritten note, or a birthday card with an offer, or maybe you put a free standing insert into the newsletter that offers them a reward for their referrals or additional business. These are all examples of pieces in your portfolio.

Related: The 3 Types of Marketing Emails That Nobody Has Opened in Years

Research, ROI and reuse

For even better results with your marketing portfolio, do research on your customers. Use or to find mailing lists of people who are likely to be interested. Design each piece of collateral carefully, as well.

Online marketing is about clicks. A solid portfolio is about a step in the buyer's journey. Whether it's getting buyers to raise their hands so you can give them information to consider or showing them where to buy once they've decided, each piece has a job. Many times, dropping even a single step can have devastating effects on the overall campaign. So, test carefully to make sure you don't torpedo a successful campaign.

One and done is not enough

When a prospect comes into contact with your portfolio, either online or offline, it's known as a "touch." Zig Ziglar was a sales and marketing master, and he said that 80 percent of sales happen after the fifth touch -- and often after the 10th! This is why having both an online and offline drip campaigns makes sense and ultimately increases sales.

Shaun Buck

Entrepreneur, Speaker, Author, & CEO of The Newsletter Pro

Shaun Buck is the co-author of No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals and Customer Retention (Entrepreneur Press, March 2016) as well as CEO of Boise, Idaho-based The Newsletter Pro, the largest custom print newsletter company in the world—printing and mailing millions of newsletters annually for diverse industries all over the globe.

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