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I was driving to a business meeting yesterday morning and saw this interesting sign on the back window of a truck. Now, I’m sure the driver (presumably the owner of the business) had good intentions, but I couldn’t help thinking “who in their right mind would call the phone number they saw in vinyl letters on the back of a pickup truck?” But as I considered it, I realized that this is just the latest twist on a common problem business owners wrestle with:does offline marketing (traditional marketing) still work in a digital marketing world?

I teach a social media marketing bootcamp and Google online marketing bootcamp for ASPE-ROI and this is a question I often hear from participants in the classes. They begin to get a little nervous at trying to figure out how to make sense of Twitter. Or, the idea of launching a Google AdWords campaign seems daunting. Instead, they would rather seek refuge in the tried and true methods they’ve used in the past: direct mail, billboards and maybe even advertising in the yellow pages. These are the areas they understand and are comfortable with, so why rock the boat?

Does Your Offline Marketing Produce Results?

Just because a method seems familiar and comfortable doesn’t mean that you should continue to use it. A client of Dijital Farm recently asked whether or not his business should continue advertising in the yellow pages. As a digital marketer, it would be easy for me to quickly dismiss the big yellow book, and I do think that it has long-outlived its usefulness. But instead of dismissing the platform, I asked him what kind of results he had been getting from his phone book ads in the past. His response: I’m not certain that I’ve gotten any business from the ad.

Let that sink in for a minute: “I’m not certain that I’ve gotten any business from the ad.”

If your offline marketing isn’t producing any results that you can see, it doesn’t make any sense to continue spending the money on that strategy. Stop it right now. No, seriously, go cancel the order. I’ll wait here until you return!

Now that that’s settled, how do you really know if your offline marketing is producing results? You need to think creatively to find ways to move that audience to a medium where you can measure them. Phone call tracking is now very feasible for companies of all sizes. Vanity URLs (Web addresses) can be created for specific print materials. TV and radio advertising can be blended with Twitter, Facebook or other social media platforms to track the on-going conversation you generate with the ads.

And then there’s the story of a jewelry store in the Philadelphia area that took a creative approach to its billboard advertising. As I riding along I-95 (a colleague was driving) and we got closer to Philly, I saw a billboard that bluntly read “I Hate Steven Singer” and included the Web address www.ihatestevensinger.com.

I hate steven singer billboard

I was startled. At first, I thought someone had taken to advertising on the billboard as a way to get back at someone that had done them wrong. My colleague and I looked at each other in disbelief. But not more than 10 seconds later, I pulled out my phone and quickly pulled up the Web site.  I simply had to know the story behind this one. And you know what I found? A Web site for a jewelry store called, appropriately, Steven Singer Jewelers. The story behind the tagline is that Steven Singer Jewelers had made it so easy (and inexpensive) to buy jewelry that guys no longer had an excuse to avoid buying jewelry for the ladies in their lives. As a result, guys now hate Steven Singer Jewelers.

But the advertising campaign had an added element. It drew out your curiosity. It made you want to look to find out what was going on. And, once you were there, the jeweler had accomplished two objectives:

  1. Branding (who would ever forget the name of THAT jeweler!) and,
  2. Showing off what they have to sell on their Web site.

From a measurement standpoint, the jeweler can use Google Analytics to monitor traffic to the Web site that comes in from mobile devices and track what those visitors do, including any purchases they make, whether or not they “like” the jeweler’s Facebook fan page or if they sign-up for the email list. And with that, the jeweler has a pretty good approach to evaluating whether or not the billboard ads were effective or not.

The bottom line: you need to use creativity to move your audience from an offline medium where it is difficult to track your impact (billboards, phone calls, etc.) to a medium where you can track your impact. And once you do that, you’ll have a pretty solid handle on how you are spending those marketing and advertising dollars.

Need Help with Your Digital Marketing Campaigns?

At Dijital Farm, we help companies make sense of their digital marketing efforts. Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, pay-per-click advertising, Google Analytics. These are our native languages and we can help you put them to work for your business. Contact us today and let us put together a digital marketing strategy that works for you.