Ad Synergy: How To Make Digital and Physical Advertising Work Together

Any small business owner will tell you: effective advertising is critical to attracting customers and driving sales growth. It doesn’t matter how great your products or services are if no one knows they exist. But unlike big corporations, small businesses don’t typically have the budget for expensive focus-tested commercials and massive ad buys. Savvy small business owners have long been using custom printed banners and other cost-effective physical advertisements to promote their wares. The problem with that is obvious. Their reach is limited to customers in the immediate area and they can only convey a limited amount of information. Online ads are effective and relatively affordable but may fall on deaf ears without extensive targeting. As a business owner, you know that a combination of physical and digital advertising provides the best bang for your buck, but you might not know how to make your advertising channels work together. Here are a few ideas to help you bring physical and digital advertising together to make your marketing & advertising more effective. 

Informed Sellers 

First, if you aren’t already, you should be doing everything in your power to amass a digital address list of customers. Whether they shopped online or in-store, getting an email address for every visitor is vital. Offer free gifts or discounts just for signing up as a loyal customer. Start an online newsletter that can be used as a method of building your address book. Point taken: by any and every means necessary, get that email address.

This may require a combination of physical and digital approaches. If you have customers’ physical addresses but lack their phone numbers and email addresses, try sending out postcards promising digital coupons to any recipients who either fill out and return them or fill out the same coupon online. Customers who want the coupon will have to enter correct email addresses, and you’ll also know that they’re interested enough in buying to take the time to fill out the form. 

High Tech, Low Cost

Merging your physical and digital advertising might sound expensive and time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need a squad of programmers to add links to your posters that customers can take a picture of, but it will help drive in-store customers to your website and social media profiles. You can also drive traffic to your physical locations by putting special in-store only discount codes in marketing emails and online ads. Instagram accounts cost nothing yet entire businesses have been built using it and it alone. Pinterest? Same story. Simple tweaks like these that add nothing to your budget are extremely helpful in pushing customers towards the kind of buying behaviors you prioritize. 

Coded Messages

QR codes are another excellent way to add digital content to your physical advertisements. All a customer needs to do is scan a QR code with their smartphone to instantly receive links to your website, promotional videos, Facebook groups, and other destinations – much easier than entering a long link into their web browser. You can even add QR codes to your flyers, mailers, business cards – every surface that you can add to. They let your customers sign up for newsletters and special offers in seconds. There are dozens of QR code-generating programs that make creating the codes easy, and they require no special equipment or technology to print. The one downside is that QR codes are relatively unpopular in the United States currently. Most people, however, are at least aware of them and most smartphones have code-reading functionality built-in.  

Synchronized Selling

As obvious as this may seem, it still bears repeating: your advertising channels should all be pitching the same thing at the same time. Your goal as a business owner is to convince customers to buy your products, and inadequate, inconsistent, or conflicting messaging won’t make achieving that goal any easier.  

Let’s say you’re using a combination of physical mailers, marketing emails, and social media ads for promotion. Instead of engaging each channel individually over the course of weeks or months, try to time the social media ads and marketing emails to coincide with the arrival of the mailers. Customers that see a mix of your physical and digital ads within a day or two will be much more likely to remember your business and take advantage of the promotion. Rule of thumb is that it takes seven touch points to make an impression. By coordinating the timing of your ads, the odds of generating those touchpoints in a compressed period of time is greatly enhanced. That will make your overall marketing approach more effective. 

The Future is Bright

The idea of high-tech advertisements might make you think of holographic promotions straight out of a sci-fi movie, but the reality is much more down to earth. Small additions to your physical advertisements and gentle recalibrations to your approach are all it takes to bring your marketing into the 21st century. Harmonizing your promotions across digital and physical channels will allow each channel to enhance the others and drive sales volume across the board.  

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