The Ultimate Guide & Intro to Non-Digital Marketing Efforts

The world of marketing has changed drastically over the last decade or so, and while there are plenty of new things to do online, there are still some old-fashioned ways to get your message out too. These offline marketing ideas can be incredibly affordable for introducing your business and brand to your target customers.

Examples of Non-Digital Marketing Channels That Work

Just because some of these non-digital, traditional marketing methods aren’t necessarily revolutionary or innovative doesn’t mean they don’t work. In reality, some of these drive more leads than you might expect. And as with digital marketing, a small sample of these is all it takes to experience traction.

Print Marketing

Print advertising today may not be as popular as it once was; but it can still be one of the most effective compliments to your existing business plan in reaching potential customers with your messages. Engaging via print means marketing in the form of brochures, marketing catalogs, marketing brochures, marketing coupons and business cards. Some of the online, supposed gurus may tell you that print is no longer the best way to market, and it’s true in a way. There are fewer businesses investing in print campaigns. However, depending on your industry, this could present a strategic advantage since it’s a less crowded channel these days. If you’re sending mailers or using printed materials when your competitors are not, you can stand out with your audience in a big way.


Broadcast, or broadcast marketing, is marketing that takes place on a variety of media. Broadcast media consist of TV and radio ads that are transmitted through traditional channels.

A business can use an advertisement for broadcast marketing either by purchasing ads on TV or radio stations or by promoting the ad through social media channels, such as Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.


Telemarketing is marketing by phone. It is a call that can be made via landline telephones, cellular phones, or VoIPs and generally annoys the shit out of all of us.  A company can either make a marketing call themselves or hire marketing companies to do it for them. Usually, companies will recruit marketing representatives for this task with the intention of building customer bases and sales. The marketing representatives typically have the responsibility of pitching the product by phone calls with potential clients. Cold calling initiatives don’t have the impact today that they once did. It can be expensive to pursue, too. There are some niche industries that continue to see results from these methods. But before you jump on board and adopt a telemarketing strategy for your business, ask yourself this question:

Are you ever going to buy that extended car warranty the “spam risk” call said you needed?

In-Person Sales (D2D/B2B)

We’ll dive into sales techniques and strategies in a later segment. You won’t want to miss that conversation either because we’ll share ALL the secrets of sales success. For now, just know that in-person sales, whether door-to-door (D2D,) business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business B2B, continues to be a proven way to authentically connect with potential customers. Business is about building relationships which, in a lot of instances, is best executed with in-person engagements.

Trade Shows/Vendor Shows

There are thousands of trade shows and vendor events every year designed to bring together industry-related companies and the buyers of those products and services. These can be costly investments. However, having a captured audience with the potential for in-person conversations can net serious results. Remember, if you do plan to pay the fee to rent a booth space, go big or go home. Don’t half-ass your presence with a card table and a marker board. Get the tablecloth, the scrims and the company printed materials ready. These can be incredibly lucrative, and we speak from experience. The last SBE expo we attended generated nearly 100 new client leads. Post-expo follow-up is key to closing those leads, more than paying for the initial investment to attend.

Outdoor Signage (OOH)

The industry calls it Out-of-Home. But it really just means any outdoor signage or message. These advertising methods include billboards and vehicle wraps. You might consider vinyl yard signs or sidewalk sandwich boards for your business. Obviously, some of these make more sense for certain niches than others. No coffee shop is complete without a sidewalk sign featuring today’s specials. And no plumber wants to show up to a job in a company van that doesn’t at least have branded magnets on the panels. Vehicle wraps are just one example of the most affordable ways to market consistently to your local customers. A good wrap can have a five-year lifespan on the vehicle, calculating to roughly a $60-$80 per month overall investment.

Direct Mail Marketing (EDDM)

With so many Americans shifting to digital engagements, including household bills, subscriptions and news, the old-fashioned mail system doesn’t see the junk mail bulks it used to see. But snail mail still works and is a viable marketing channel for many business models. Sending postcards, coupons or general announcements by mail, or Every Door Direct Mail® (EDDM®), can be affordable and customizable by zip code, allowing for a targeted region of recipients. Traditional direct mail targets can also involve mailing lists secured by other demographics, including age, income and gender. Remember, whenever engaging in an EDDM campaign, you’ll want to reach the same households six to seven times before seeing ROI on the investment. Don’t bail too early or after one run of mailers, like most businesses do because it’s likely you won’t see the desired results from being too impatient.

Branded Promotional Items

Who doesn’t love a free tee or branded coffee mug? Branded promotional items are great pieces of walking marketing collateral you can use to deputize others. There are typically bulk purchasing options, too, making it affordable to order a batch of branded pens or portable chargers. The key to leveraging promotional items is lifespan. Be selective about what you order. For example, construction companies can put their logos on handy tape measures. In our cleaning business, walking in to meet a client with a box of donuts, a few pens and mugs is a welcomed cold call visit. It’s generally best to also avoid the branded edibles. After all, once eaten, your investment’s gone forever and doesn’t have much shelf life.

  • Brand a candy jar to take to your favorite client or gatekeeper. You now have a reason for a return visit, with candy to refill that jar.
  • Branded PPE is a great investment for those required to wear it.
  • Branded promotional items foster an environment of appreciation and loyalty with employees.
  • Consider ordering logo branded stickers that you can add to various items you might not order in bulk, including that box of donuts you bring with you to your client visit.

Local Sponsorships

Even if your target audience is physically represented across the country or globally, you might find a reason to increase your brand presence locally. Community support and charitable contributions go a long way with your local folks. Sponsor the little league team or a hole at the charity golf outing. Just know that those kinds of investments won’t typically result in immediate buyers. They will, however, provide your business some mileage in establishing a brand reputation within your community.

Hosting Events or Exhibits

Don’t be afraid to step up and coordinate and host local events that make sense for your community. Volunteer your storefront for the next “Business After Hours” get-together or be the Emcee for a Women in Business group get-together. Get involved and demonstrate your leadership chops within your community. Like sponsorships, it might not result in immediate ROI, but it will improve your presence locally and allow you to share any socially responsible endeavors online.

Networking Events

There can be tremendous value in joining local networking groups. Depending on where you live and do business, you might have Chambers of Commerce or BNI Chapters available. As with other marketing options, you don’t have to join them all, and no one has time for that anyway. But join the business community where it makes sense to do so.

Tina’s Cleaning Business: Tina’s cleaning business started to gain traction first with those busy moms who didn’t have time to keep their hectic homes clean. Tina’s a mom herself and understands the struggle. But she also realizes, one day at the ball diamond for her grade school son’s practice, that there are a ton of moms coming and going there. She wonders if it makes sense to sponsor one of the dugouts or buy a banner to hang along the outfield fence.

“If you’re here, you’re probably too busy to clean your house. Text right now for a quote!”

Paul’s Used Car Dealership: Paul, like Tina, is wondering if there is a way to extend his brand and presence within the local community more. It might make sense to sponsor the local Post Prom celebration to get in front of and work directly with local parents, who might also be in the market for a teen or college driver car this year. His credit-challenged audience might be reached if he has flyers at the local Workforce Development center with his message.

“No credit-No problem!”

People getting help there with job placement will also need reliable transportation. He explores outdoor signage options, too, to help capture the attention of passing traffic of both his core audiences.

Disadvantages of Non-Digital Marketing

Obviously, in today’s digital environment, you need to build a strong online foundation first. Relying completely on some of these non-virtual methods will have disadvantages. Exploring the traditional channels can be impactful, but not with the results you can see with digital.

Here are a few setbacks to non-digital marketing:

Limited Audience Interaction: A sign in the outfield can reach plenty of busy moms for Tina’s cleaning business. But it’s an investment with limited audience interaction. Many of these traditional methods translate to smaller reach and frequency metrics.

Difficulty Controlling Timing: You can buy a few spots on the radio, with the ad rep promising great reach and frequency during peak drive times. But ultimately, you can’t control the timing of your delivery to the intended audience. You’re really shooting in the dark and hoping the right people hear your message at the right time in their buying cycles.

Higher Costs: It can cost thousands to invest in a billboard. And you’ll have a hard time quantifying results without a unique call to action message. You can reach far more people for less cost per person with an email campaign.

Limited Customization: Once you print the flyer or make the commercial, the message is fixed. There isn’t room for much customization without spending extra to create separate campaigns for each.

Difficult to Measure Campaign Performance: Many of these non-digital marketing methods can make an impact, but you won’t have the performance metrics available that you have with digital campaigns.

Finding the Best Combination of Digital & Non-Digital Channels

The best way to gain the most traction with your marketing is to adopt a hybrid compilation of both digital and non-digital efforts. Non-digital marketing is a great way to send a broad message to a significant audience. One brilliantly placed sign can reach thousands, as can a clever television commercial. But today’s businesses are leveraging a healthy, hybrid mix of both digital and non-digital methods.

Narrow Your Focus, Enhance Your Impact

Imagine you have an empty glass, each representing that monster list of marketing options. Now imagine your budget is defined with a pitcher of water. If the goal is to overflow the glass (to experience maximum ROI results and customer engagement,) it’s going to take a while to see any real impact with small pours over ten glasses. But, if you focus on four glasses, you can maximize results quicker by focusing on specific channels. And once you dominate your chosen marketing venue, every effort you add to it will continue to see results.

The narrower your focus, the wider your message goes.

Concentrate on the fewer marketing channels with the most impact and dominate them.

The moral of this marketing story is to be selective about creating your marketing strategy and choose a hybrid mix of both digital and non-digital channels. If you still need help developing your most effective path forward, let our Awareness Branding & Consulting team help and schedule your FREE consultation.

Marcus Wendt

Chief Executive Officer

Marcus helps lead and grow companies from the ground up. He has a proven track record. His experience is diverse with expertise in sales, branding, marketing, automations, manufacturing, building teams, managing operations, sourcing suppliers and outsourcing to offshore locations.