In our previous blog post, we discussed how many small businesses have unrealized potential to expand their digital branding and marketing reach, often due to a “phone book” mentality and approach to marketing and branding that worked for many small businesses before the Internet changed everything in the late 1990s. While it’s true that small businesses must fully embrace the power and potential of the Internet, has the digital age really changed everything about small business branding and marketing, or should you still embrace a number of traditional, tried-and-true branding and marketing techniques that have survived the rise and dominance of Internet marketing and digital branding?

People Still Value Personal Connections

It’s undeniable that the last two decades of mostly Internet-based advances and innovations in small business marketing and branding have changed many of the rules and restrictions of the past; however, it’s also important to know and understand the limitations of digital marketing and branding, and one of the most apparent and tangible of those limitations is the impersonal nature of the Internet – instant communication and universal access to digital resources do not measure up to the marketing and branding power of a face-to-face conversation and a handshake. As more and more small businesses strive to succeed and flourish in an increasingly competitive marketplace, the opportunity to build brand awareness through personal networking cannot be ignored.

Networking And Charitable Events

Personal networking shouldn’t be limited to just small business groups, trade shows and conferences. Charitable events, including volunteering, not only provide wonderful opportunities to give back to your local community, but also provide avenues for building positive awareness of your brand. Be careful not to push your brand too hard, or try to make a charity event about you or your business – such efforts can easily backfire and negate all of the work you’ve done to promote your business.

People Still Love Free Stuff

It’s an undisputed fact that most branded promotional items and products are a big hit with partners, clients and customers. It’s a safe bet that almost all of us have useful, fun and colorful items around our offices and homes that are branded with the name and logo of a business. And while the Internet is a powerful and versatile tool for marketing your business, your branding goes away the second a browser window or smartphone app is closed, while a branded coffee mug or flash drive remains a constant fixture in a home or office. It’s important to choose items that are relevant and useful to potential clients and customers of your business – for instance, sticky notes are more useful in office environments, while travel mugs may be more practical for those who work on outdoors or on the road. A promotional item should also fit your brand voice and be suitable based on your industry – a branded flash drive may be the perfect promotional item for an IT firm, but less appropriate for a bakery or laundromat.

People Still Find Coupons and Mailers Useful

If your small business is interested in connecting with a local audience or base of potential customers, there is still value in utilizing printed coupons and advertising circulars that are delivered by mail. While digital coupons and marketing resources such as social media updates and email marketing are valuable, they may not be as effective in specifically reaching potential customers in your neighborhood or town as these old-fashioned marketing tools. Be careful not to go overboard and bombard your local community with “junk mail,” as that could easily and irreversibly damage the reputation of your business.