Nearly everything you used to do in person is online in some way: banking, ordering groceries, socializing—the list goes on. Yet while the world is increasingly digitized, there are many reasons why, in the world of business, offline marketing still holds value.
Offline marketing can be a truly effective way to engage with your customers. Many enjoy being wooed by brands in a variety of ways; discovering them through research, word of mouth, or compelling advertisements or collaborations. There’s a lot of customer fun to be had away from phones and computers. Abandoning offline marketing efforts to keep things exclusively digital for audiences potentially puts your brand in a narrow lane.
It’s time to celebrate an awakening of non-digital channel strategies that can either complement a brand’s online marketing efforts or provide new, personalized, and bold ways to build meaningful connections with customers.
Ahead, learn exactly what offline marketing is and discover 10 offline marketing strategies you can incorporate into your overall marketing plan.
What is offline marketing?
Offline marketing is any non-digital marketing or advertising activity that increases brand awareness and customer acquisition. This activity can include newspaper ads or branded content pieces in publications, radio and television ads, coupons, sponsorships, booths at a trade show or event, and more. Offline marketing is also a component of multichannel marketing or part of an omnichannel strategy.
Offline marketing is an important strategy to invest in because it will primarily help a business reach customers who may not be active online. Additionally, some consumers prefer traditional methods, particularly business-to-business (B2B) buyers versus business-to-customer.
It may seem too good to be true but, outside of television ads, offline marketing is often a cheaper route to take than digital. The impact of offline marketing won’t be felt financially right away; for offline marketing, brands ought to seek out ways for customers to remember them, not necessarily go straight to the buyer journey. Paid social ads are one way to increase a brand’s exposure but so, too, is a billboard. This shows the product in a different way. Offline marketing will always work in harmony with any existing or future online strategies. It’s not meant to replace digital marketing. If you’re running offline and online marketing efforts, ensure campaigns are focused with metrics for each channel.
10 offline marketing strategies for your business
There are many ways for a brand to incorporate offline marketing into their advertising efforts. Here are 10 of the most effective strategies and ideas to consider for your next campaign.
- Direct mail
- Community engagement
- Trade shows
- Promotion at events
- Press releases
- Offering product samples
- Building a business network
- Offering discounts
- Seasonal cards
1. Direct mail
There is something to be said for getting in someone’s actual mailbox rather than their inbox. By 2025, according to a Statista, the number of sent and received emails per day will reach 376 billion globally. People still have an appetite for anything that’s not-digital. According to a report by Deloitte, a third of those in the study felt inundated by subscriptions and fatigue from digital devices.
Direct mail is anything that involves a physical item sent to a customer. This can include letters, newsletters, brochures, and postcards. Meal box brands, such as HelloFresh and GoodFood, consistently send mailers out, often with discounts. These mailed coupons entice new and former customers to engage with the brand directly—this strategy can get through to each customer physically in a way emails sometimes might not.
A selection of GoodFood coupons sent via direct mail (Source: Imgur)
2. Community engagement
Community engagement is a helpful way for both businesses and customers to remain connected to one another. Particularly for B2B companies, holding community engagement sessions or activities is a mindful way to understand how products are valued, used, and, perhaps, can be improved. There are valuable insights to be gained from finding out what your buyers’ needs and preferences are. These sessions can be as simple as monthly roundtables with customers, surveys where you discuss the results with customers later on, or casual meet-ups to talk and share insights.
3. Trade shows
Having a booth at a trade show is a crucial way to get some face time with your customers. It’s unique, creative, and can be an important way for your customer to engage with you and your product in an industry setting, which allows for whatever tone you want to strike, whether it’s casual or more professional. Other offline marketing offerings can be included at trade shows, such as brochures, take-home leaflets on products, or even a physical publication like a coffee table book that doubles as a collector’s item.
Trade shows have the ability to target specific customers and industry professionals, helping a brand showcase their offerings in a meaningful way.
4. Promotion at events
Partnering with an event to promote your business or product can be an effective way to gain more customer exposure. Promoting your company, product, or service at small community-focused events can help you target the specific customer you’re trying to acquire, while bigger cultural events, like concerts, markets, or festivals, can help you reach a wider net of potential buyers.
Model and entrepreneur Kendall Jenner’s 818 Outpost brand activation at Coachella is an example of unique promotion. For a festival as grand as the one in Indio, California, and with a number of brands flocking to make an impact on buyers, this one stands out as clever and relaxed. It focused on the desert aesthetic (with the festival also being in the desert), and those who went received free goodies.
Inclusion at events gives a brand the opportunity to gain traction with new customers. This can be as simple as posters or products sold at an event or even a booth setup where you can connect one-on-one with buyers.
5. Press releases
Having a relationship with media organizations is still important. Newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters (TV, radio or podcast companies) are crucial places for brands to get coverage. For brands that don’t have an existing relationship with a media organization, a key way to change that is through a press release.
Press releases contain marketing information on a person, product, or event. Pitching a product release (or perhaps a rebrand?) to a media organization and getting coverage from that offers a business more opportunity to reach a wider audience and gain more exposure. Television, for example, likely has a wider reach than niche radio programs. It all depends on who your audience is and where they will go.
A good rule to stick by is pitching press releases to credible, trusted media sources.
Press releases should include:
- A news hook. What is the product or story about? How will it impact that publication’s readership?
- Key information and facts. What is the product being launched? The significant company milestone? Who are the people involved?
- Contact information. How can journalists or assigning editors get in touch to discuss story coverage?
6. Offering product samples
There’s perhaps no brand that does product samples better than Sephora. The beauty retailer drums up support not only for itself but for other companies by offering samples through its Beauty Insider program. These samples are often selected and curated by the company’s staff, packaged as part of its reward program, offering small-sized versions of elite, customer-loved products.
Offering samples of a product can generate buzz and interest to a new audience, where those who love it are much more likely to be compelled to buy a full-size version.
Sephora's Beauty Insider program offers product samples to customers
Even offering food samples at a retail location, à la Costco or Starbucks, generates some buzz for a product. There’s nothing quite as nostalgic or compelling as having access to plenty of food samples at Costco on a Saturday afternoon. Word-of-mouth referrals are worth their weight in gold. Satisfied customers are likely to talk to others about their positive experiences. If there are free samples involved, often coming with a purchase or simply by being in a store, and customers love them, they will tell others. They will be your greatest offline advertisers.
7. Building a business network
Having and nurturing relationships in a business network is a good form of offline marketing because other industry professionals are likely to help broaden a company’s reach. Relationships of all kinds are important because they can lead to referrals, partnerships, or collaborations that are mutually beneficial for each participant—bringing in more customers and potentially more revenue.
8. Offering discounts
One way to attract customers offline is through discounting or special offers like coupons to apply to purchases. Think of businesses that have a special rate for new customers when you sign up for a service or a product.
Loyalty programs with discounts are a good way to incentivize existing customers to become repeat purchasers. Dollar Shave Club offers a subscription to buyers, which provides access to new products, personalized recommendations, and discounts to customers.
You don’t always need to have a loyalty program to do this. Sending customers coupons, especially ones for in-store purchases and more rewards there, lets you know how much you value having them. For your competitors, it lets them know of your unique selling position and your willingness to discount.
9. Seasonal cards
Today, many buyers enjoy having a more personalized experience with companies. This includes receiving personalized offers, discounts, emails, and, yes, seasonal cards. Sending a birthday card or a holiday card to your customer base (particularly if you engage in holiday selling activities) gives everyone pause for a moment to consider that buyer/customer relationship. A brand lets a customer know how valued they are as a consumer and the customer feels good with how a business engages in consumer relationships with a personal touch.
For B2B brands, this is a very good offline activity to engage in to let your customers know how much you appreciate their support of your product or service. It lets them know, too, that they are top-of-mind to you.
There’s no other high-visibility offline marketing idea that can compare to a billboard. Promoting a product or service on a billboard reaches literally thousands and thousands of potential customers every single day. Billboards that are placed in high-traffic areas such as busy highways and freeways can generate significant brand awareness. It’s one of the few methods of offline marketing that doesn’t have an immediate return on investment and can vary in cost depending on format. But billboards do come with bragging rights. Imagine your product or service visible from a highway in Los Angeles or a digital billboard in Times Square? It really doesn’t get much better than that.
For sexual wellness brand maude, having founder Éva Goicochea on a Sephora billboard in Times Square during Latinx Heritage Month doubled as both a celebration of the founder’s background and of the brand itself.
Embrace offline marketing in your business
Offline marketing tactics range in effort and price. Yet, the core value of deploying such a digitally averse strategy remains: to reach a wide set of customers through mass advertising or individual and personalized offerings may help increase both a brand’s bottom line and brand affinity. Using technology to effectively reach customers where they are on social media, email, or browsing online is always going to be a top priority for a company. But offline methods—the roots of customer acquisition and retention—remain a useful reminder that your customers are people, not just users on a phone.
Offline marketing strategies FAQ
What are offline marketing techniques?
Offline marketing techniques are traditional advertising or promotional techniques for brand awareness and customer acquisition that don’t occur online, like on social media, but on television, in physical publications, or through product promotion.
What is an example of offline marketing?
One key example of offline marketing is promotion discounting for new and/or existing customers. Discounting for new customers can help bring them in to buy a product, while continued discounting for existing customers rewards them for being loyal and ensures a higher chance of continued purchasing.
How do you create an offline marketing strategy?
Remember that an offline marketing strategy doesn’t replace digital marketing efforts. They are complementary. Set goals and outcomes for what your offline marketing strategy is meant to achieve. Is it purely brand awareness? Consider a billboard. Do you want new customers to hear about your company or product? Try a story in a newspaper or magazine that was helped by a press release. Many outcomes should be tempered by what the offline marketing strategy will help provide later on, such as increased customers or revenue as a result of reaching a wider audience.