Offline ads include TV, radio, magazine, newspaper, yellow pages, billboard, and direct mail ads.
Offline ads are a great channel for the later stages of building a product, where you’ve already implemented customer feedback to develop a great product and now are focused on marketing.
To get started with this channel, you’ll need to know which type of offline media your target customers read, listen to or watch.
You can find out who reads or tunes in to each media source by getting an ad kit from publishers, which includes an audience prospectus (an explanation of what kind of people make up their audience).
Another way is to ask your customers which publishers or broadcasters they like and which ads left an impression on them.
Offline ads can be divided into three categories:
- Print advertising (magazines, newspapers, etc.)
- Outdoor advertising (billboards and signs)
- Radio and TV advertising
This is a huge market, only second to TV advertising.
A popular place to advertise is in magazines. There are three types:
- Consumer magazines (popular, newsstand magazines)
- Trade magazines (industry-specific publications)
- Local magazines (free)
Magazine ads must be well-designed to catch the reader’s eye. They must also have a strong call to action.
Magazines are popular with younger readers, while newspapers usually cater to the over-30 demographic.
Newspapers work well for limited-time offers, awareness campaigns, or announcements like product launches.
A third type of media, direct mail, is mail delivered directly to a certain type of customer.
You can build or buy lists of customers to send direct mail to. You can also outsource the mailing process to keep it simple.
When sending direct mail, make sure to do the following 4 things:
- Include a self-addressed envelope so recipients can easily respond
- Hand-write your envelopes and cards so it looks personal.
- Have a clear action for the reader to take
- Try to get lower costs for bulk mail
You can also simply post flyers where you know your target customers will be.
Instacab hired cyclists to bike around San Francisco and hand business cards to people trying to call a taxi. They knew where their target customers were and got printed materials into their hands. Uber and Lyft also hand out cards with a discount code near touristy places in major cities.
Outdoor advertising mainly refers to billboard advertising.
The major names in billboard advertising (in the U.S.) are Lamar, Clear Channel, and Outfront Media.
Billboards can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the location, size, type of billboard, and number of people who will see it.
It’s also a long game, as billboards don’t provide immediate results. No one is going to open up your URL while they’re driving.
But they can build your brand image or raise awareness for events.
Transit ads, another type of outdoor advertising, are ads found in and on buses, taxis, benches, trains and bus shelters. You can buy these through specialist companies like Blue Line Media.
An upside to outdoor advertising is that signs are only replaced if another advertiser buys the space, so your ad might stay up longer than the display period you paid for.
The cost of radio ads is determined by the number of listeners, the market, the time it’ll air, and how many ads you’ll place. It can range anywhere from $500 to $1,500 at a local station, or from $4,000 to $8,000 in a major city.
Satellite radio is another good option.
TV ads, though expensive, are great for boosting your branding. To reap the benefits, they must be very high-quality.
It can cost between $100,000 and $350,000 to air one commercial. But local commercials may cost as low as $5 per 1,000 viewers per 30 seconds of commercial. Ask your local TV station for their viewer count.
Getting into TV advertising can be difficult, so you may want to hire a media buyer to negotiate the price and streamline the process for you.
Another option for TV advertising is infomercials, which can be very effective, especially for lifestyle industries like weight-loss and cooking.
These long-form ads can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $500,000 for a spot between 2 and 28 minutes long.
Infomercials call for a direct response, encouraging target customers to call or go online to buy, usually accompanied by a special discount or offer.
Buy ads according to your budget. If you don’t have much cash, start by testing on smaller publications.
You can also buy remnant advertising—ad space that is still unfilled close to the deadline—at very low rates.
You’ll want to track your ads to see how they’re performing, but it’s not as easy as with online ads.
To track offline ads, you can set up a special URL just for the ad, or conduct a survey during checkout to find out where customers came from.
Smart Bear Software conducts a “How Did You Hear About Us?” survey when customers make a purchase. They’ve also tracked performance by offering a free book in the ad.
It’s hard to predict which offline ads will work, but if this is your core channel, keep trying until you find what sticks. Find ways to measure the performance of each ad so you know what to improve.