You are a small business and you are dipping your toe into online marketing. The question you have is should you continue to pursue traditional (mostly print) advertising. I’ve got an easy answer: yes…and no. (Nothing’s ever that black and white, is it?).

Some traditional and print advertising is still useful and much of it depends on your type of business. A print catalog once or twice a year for a bricks and mortar store, even if you have e-commerce, can be a good way to visually motivate people to stop back in, particularly if it includes a time-sensitive coupon. Don’t bombard people with catalogs. You know you hate this and it’s expensive. If Christmas is a big-time for your business, certainly around the holidays it might be a good time to invest in a catalog.

Print mailings, like a newsletter, a postcard, or a simple standard letter can be good ways to reach out to customers who are less active than they used to be. Sometimes we need a nudge and certainly former customers should always be on your radar. They shopped with you before, right? Use print to say “thank you” to existing customers part of the time as well.

Newspaper advertising is iffy. In a small town, this can be useful still. Or if your demographic is 55 or older. But if you are in a larger area with a young to middle-aged demographic, I don’t recommend it. For one thing, it is still expensive to advertise in a newspaper. For another, like it or not, newspapers are dying. Ask anyone 35 or younger how often they read a paper and you might be astonished to hear “never”. Consider advertising your newspaper or TV channel’s website instead.

Finally, definite no’s go to billboards and yellow/white page advertising. Again, both are cost-prohibitive. Billboards compete too much for our attention and do not include a “call to action”. Yellow/white page advertising just doesn’t pay off. Many communities are banning these and large providers like AT&T are only mailing them if requested. With only 11% of the population using these hefty print search engines, why bother?

Stay tuned for better places to advertise.


by Steven Schlagel