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Dear Marketing, Offline Is The New Online

In an age when crazy terms such as social media addiction and compulsive smartphone behaviour are recognised by psychologists as new mental health disorders, it can be a good idea for businesses to embrace a digital detox approach in their marketing strategies. As digital invades more of more our lives – and constantly interrupts our efforts to maintain a healthy work/life balance with late emails and notifications that appear on our phones long after we’ve left the office – it’s fair to say: You need to step out of the digital rat race and go back to traditional marketing techniques.

Does traditional marketing still work? It seems that the digital revolution has taken over and dictated a new platform of interactions for business. But in reality, companies have learned to follow trends to survive. The current trend among Millennials is to find peace offline. By reducing their digital use, they hope to achieve a balanced lifestyle. As a result, customers have embraced the GDPR email notifications as a way to clear up their lives from unnecessary information. More importantly, for businesses, it means that you can’t interact with your customer database in the same way.

Going big and offline is the way to improve your brand reputation online. Here’s how it works.

Lessons to learn from a digital attention-seeking world

A digital detox, in the business world, is not synonymous with deleting your website and your social media presence. On the contrary, these things are key to keep. Your digital detox refers to your marketing strategy, namely you can use your offline presence to promote your brand and your online strategy. Surprising, yes. But effective too in the new digital zeitgeist. The modern audience is divided between enthusiastic digital users and people who have actively decided to reduce their digital interactions. But they share common behavioural patterns in the way they choose to engage with their favourite brands. Indeed, people love a show. That’s precisely Redbull’s strategy to reach out to a broad audience. The main reason why the energy drink sponsors high adrenaline sports events – rally cars, speed cycling, and acrobatic BMX-ing to name but a few – is that they can maximise the fun element and associate it with their brand. Danny MacAskill’s stunts are some of the best advertising Redbull could have dreamed of, for instance. It’s a subtle kind of marketing on YouTube, but it’s also effective in creating new social perspectives – who knew you just needed to drink Redbull to improve your cycling style?

Turning dull into gold

Going back to basics, trade shows are one of the oldest forms of marketing, and also one of the most useful in building up a brand reputation. For a lot of visitors and small companies, a trade show is ultimately the place to get free pens and brochures they’ll never read. Trade shows are boring in essence if you don’t inject a little dose of playfulness and witty conversation starters. You can’t go to a business event with boxes of flyers and stationery. You need to consider carefully your conference giveaway ideas to generate excitement and spread the word online. Gamification is the secret recipe to establish the emotional hook with your offline visitors. Just like McDonalds’ restaurants are trending on social media during the Monopoly game campaign – a campaign during which restaurants give out monopoly stickers that can be collected to win a prize – you can create a golden ticket moment. Printing out different messages on your giveaway items can be a great way of gaining popularity online, for instance.

Offer an offline experience to your best online advocates

A brand advocate is often described as a loyal brand consumer who enjoys promoting your products or services. In reality, brand advocacy and brand loyalty are two different concepts that don’t fulfil the same function. A brand advocate is a consumer who spreads the word about your brand – positively. More importantly, the advocate holds an expert position in their community – it’s the person to go to for objective recommendations. The role of marketers would be a lot easier if more brand advocates were available for strategic campaigns. But one company decided to spin the problem on its head by turning sceptical customers into convinced consumers: Lidl. Lidl has launched the campaign #LidlSurprises which allows them to invite customers to experience the brand’s values and processes. It’s the offline story of someone exploring their doubts about a company and discovering the workflow in place that serves as an advocacy campaign online.

Become a generous sponsor

Most companies have a sponsor strategy, which tends to be based on the interests of the CEO and the budget available at the time. As a result, SMEs, startups and independent entrepreneurs are seldom seen on the sponsor scene. But you can increase your chances of doing good by choosing to sponsor facilities in your local community, such as sponsoring a school or helping to save a local pub. The advantage of staying local is mainly financial – in a small community, you can make a great deal of difference with the lowest amounts. For instance, a construction company could provide its expertise and a few hours of manual work for improvement projects of public buildings. In terms of costs, it’s a small fee to pay. But the PR exposure can be, comparatively speaking, huge.

Change lives without making a fuss about it

From isolated sponsor activities to making giving back an integral part of your business behaviour, there’s only one step, and it’s called effective advocacy strategy. Indeed, making charity one of your commercial values doesn’t only benefit the population you help. It’s also a long-term marketing move. Sooner or later, people will notice the difference and start talking about your actions. WeWOOD, a watchmaking company, plants a tree for every watch they sell. Charitable companies don’t hide their generous engagement — and it’s often published on the About Us page of their website – so that, every now and then an online user stumbles across the info and can promote the company.

In conclusion, your offline presence can define your offline reputation. Do good offline and let enthusiastic customers, partners and journalists do the hard work online. Your digital detox marketing approach becomes, ultimately, the backbone of your digital presence.

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