Brandon Levy first opened his storefront after moving his decorated-apparel business out of his garage. At that time, he offered his local community a one-week-only coupon for one free monogram on any item they brought to his shop. The Denver, NC-based business ended up having a great turnout, in part because Levy used Facebook’s paid ads to promote his offer. “People loved the idea of something free—who doesn’t, right—and the majority of people who came in for their monograms also purchased another product or service,” says Levy, president and owner of Digitize4u.
Levy’s strategy was a great example of what’s often called hybrid marketing. This marriage of online and offline marketing allows marketers and business owners to combine two effective concepts, into one streamlined campaign. Plus, with the power behind hybrid marketing, you’re more likely to see better ROI on your advertising dollars, via better conversion or expanded market reach. “It’s a bricks-and-clicks approach,” says Luke Webster, a digital marketing analyst with San Diego, CA-based Miva. “Your company most likely already has some type of physical location, along with a digital presence.”
Focus Is Key
In the current multichannel browsing-and-buying climate, you can’t just focus on one or two marketing channels to get your message out to prospects and customers. Instead, it’s vital that your company crafts a marketing strategy using varied platforms and mediums to connect with the appropriate audience.
According to HubSpot’s Stat of Inbound survey, 63% of businesses cite generating traffic and leads as their top marketing challenge. Hybrid marketing can take your prospecting efforts to new heights. We’ve have some strategies on how to combine traditional and digital marketing methods to capture your prospects attention in an ultra-effective and creative way.
Be Where the Buyers Are
Another way to think about it is, you’ll be supplementing traditional marketing(mailers, trade shows, live events, branded packaging, promo items, print ads, radio ads or signs)with digital marketing (social media, email marketing, text advertising, blogging, podcasts, SEO and inbound marketing)to help tell your brand story. To really be successful though, it’s essential to match your hybrid marketing efforts, with the ways people browse and buy.
For example, a company can have a storefront or participate in pop-up shops as their offline or in-person marketing strategy. “Online, a business can create an ecommerce store with the option for omnichannel marketing, including social media platforms for shopping, and online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay,” Webster says.
“Much like there are different styles of learning, where one person may be more visual and another more auditory, and yet a third wants a hands-on experience, the same can be said for the kinds of marketing that will grab a prospect’s attention,” says Erich Campbell, program manager of Albuquerque, NM-based BriTon Leap’s Commercial Division. “For one it’s an ad read in their favorite podcast, for another, it’s a quick-hit video in their social feed, for another, it’s a lifestyle product photo. And yet for another, it’s a hand-delivered sample in a printed package. It’s worth experimenting and thinking about, both, where and how your customers focus their attention.”
Levy notes that most customers, regardless of their generation, can be reached via digital marketing. “There’s a very simple method we use to engage in hybrid marketing,” he says. “Offer your clients an in-store-only discount for engaging with a social media post. That could be simply, ‘Like and share our page for 10% OFF in our store.’”
As you begin with hybrid marketing, start thinking about your goals and audience: What’s your core message? (example: “We provide the most innovative screen printed apparel out there”) Who’s your target audience? Where do they spend time, online and in real life? What action do you want them to take as a result of your campaign? (example: Place your first order for 100 screen-printed T-shirts and you’ll get “X.”)
“A small business owner can start by thinking strategically about their goals,” says Blanka Supe, co-founder of San Francisco-based Prazely. “For example, perhaps a business needs to keep its brand “top-of-mind” to encourage repeat customers. One way to do that is by tying physical incentives, such as personalized gifts, to digital communications, in order to keep customers from being swayed by the competition.”
Once you’ve worked out your initial answers, map out the journey and touchpoints your prospects will take from, first, learning about your products to, then, placing an order. For example, if you email a special offer to a client with a redeemable online code, display that same offer for walk-ins at your physical location, so it makes it easier for everyone to benefit from the campaign.
A Case Study
Howard Potter, CEO and partner at Utica, NY-based A&P Master Images, never produced sales flyers or digital specials until a year ago. “Make sure you price your products based on what your costs are,” Potter says. “Then, promote an offer on social media, email it to your clients and show it to walk-ins with flyers when they come into your store. Our sales last year alone increased by 15%—and a huge part was due to promoting specials and having them where people could view them.”
Your strategy should be about creating and building brand awareness that hits a certain number of touchpoints—say between five and 10—with a prospect. For example, Potter promotes his shop’s work across Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, in addition to using online ads, which are targeted to specific audiences. He even invests in local radio, TV and print ads, depending on where his prospects spend their time. “We make short videos to introduce our company and show what we do,” Potter says. “We also give our customers flyers and promo products with our logo, along with each order. We get them using our products, so they really see the value in them.”
Potter suggests that whatever hybrid strategy you use, be sure to do so consistently and effectively. When you’re thinking about the types of information you want to put out there, besides brand messaging, always think in terms of offering value: whether it’s educational information, a discount or special offer, or even something entertaining that relates to your products and services.
For example, say you’ll be selling t-shirts to players’ families and fans at a local soccer tournament. Beforehand, you’d probably set up paid social media ads to promote your “pop-up shop.” During the tournament, you’d share photos and live videos so prospects could be part of the action. You might even hold a limited-time contest where people, who bought the shirts, post photos of themselves wearing the tees on social media, and also tagging your business for a chance to win a free logoed item.
Embrace These Best Practices
Keep these best practices in mind as you develop and test your hybrid marketing campaigns:
1. Keep branding consistent. No matter where someone encounters your brand or promotional offers, they should feel like they’re all coming from the same company. Whether you use similar branding elements, colors, fonts or messaging, keep it the same so people always recognize you.
Connie Chi, founder and CEO of New York City-based The Chi Group, says that creating an often repeated and easily remembered message is key, both online and offline. “When your message is easily relatable, that’s number one,” she says. “When it’s easily shareable too, that allows customers to easily tell their family, friends and colleagues about your product or service.”
2. Make experiences consistent. Whether your client’s chatting with you face-to-face in your physical showroom, checking out the racks at your trade show booth or browsing your ecommerce store, the experiences should feel cohesive and connected. For example, the messaging you’re sharing with customers at a trade show should be the same as what they read on your website.
Pop-up shops or limited-time events, like brand activations or fairs, are great for apparel decorators, because they allow people to see your craftsmanship in person. “Pop-ups also use the consumer behavior tactic of scarcity because they’re typically for a limited time only,” Webster says.
Matt Peterson, director of marketing at InkSoft, suggests advertising to schools, companies or other organizations “where they are,” with emailed or mailed flyers, signage or even at trade shows. “Your focus, though, should be to drive them online to engage in some meaningful way,” he says. “Supplement your offline marketing efforts with targeted online landing pages that encourage engagement and collect user data. Once online, prospects can be segmented and given value according to their needs.”
Campbell has seen decorators make great strides with contests or flat giveaways that take a social message and turn it into “in-hands” samples for their customers. “It can be costly, but it buys a great deal of goodwill and makes your social marketing seem ‘real,’ all while promoting those users to further share their experiences with the world,” he says.
3. But, adjust content as needed. Your message should always be consistent and adjusted to the medium your using to spread it. For example, you shouldn’t try to cram a five-paragraph email into an Instagram post. Instagram is a place for people to be engaged visually, so in that case, you should summarize your message to be short and sweet, while accompanying it with some lively imagery.
4. Keep your contacts up to date. At each touchpoint, collect contact information from your prospects and add them to your CRM system so you can stay in touch via email or direct mail. “Hybrid marketing definitely includes offline brand exposure with integrated digital lead capture, follow-up and tracking,” Peterson says.
Finally, Levy’s best advice to business owners looking to get started with hybrid marketing is to observe other companies’ strategies—and what’s working and what’s not. “Hybrid marketing is so wide open that your opportunities are limitless,” he says. “Take a look at your target audience and your business, identify your strongest competitive aspect and promote it. For example, spend $20 on social media advertising and see where it takes you.”
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