How Startup Marketing is Going Old School

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At a time when digital tools such as social media and content marketing are all the rage, some startups are discovering that going un-digital can be an effective approach to marketing.

In the marketing world, it’s all about being digital active. Brands need a vibrant social media presence, ideally on multiple platforms. They need to curate content, engage with target audiences and constantly monitor activity.

Brands also need to be publishers as content marketing grows as a way to deliver value-added information to potential and existing customers.

In other words, it’s all digital, all the time.

It’s easy to think that marketing has gone completely digital for companies of all sizes. Why would a company do any other kind of marketing when digital offers so much potential?

The reality is, however, that non-digital marketing is alive and well. Brands still advertise on TV, radio and newspaper. They market via direct marketing, billboards, sponsorships and at conferences. “Un-digital” may not be sexy but it’s alive and well.

For startups, taking an un-digital approach is definitely going against the grain. But it is also an opportunity to stand out from the crowd by not playing the same game as everyone else.

A couple of examples:

1. StickerYou, (a client) which offers an online platform that makes it easy to create customized stickers — any size, any shape that pretty much stick any surface. The Toronto-based company is seeing growing interest from small businesses looking to use stickers to jump-start their marketing activities.

Stickers are an interesting marketing vehicle because a big part of their appeal is the nostalgia that surrounds them. As children, people loved stickers, and that affection never really goes away. Stickers are fun, personal and harken back to good times.

Stickers also make an impression. When someone decides to put a sticker on a laptop, suitcase or guitar case, for example, they are making a powerful statement about how their affinity for a brand. In many ways, stickers are powerful advocacy tools because they tell the world that you really believe in something.

2. Triggerfox, a mobile CRM, has also taken an old school approach to marketing.

When someone signs up for the service, they receive the ability to send three “thank you” cards via Triggerfox. In a world of email and social media, few people send thank you cards any more, which is why it’s such an interesting marketing play.

The “thank you” cards play off one of Triggerfox’s value proposition of staying being able to stay in touch with the people who matter to you. They symbolize the ability to make a real connection in a world of fast-moving bits and bytes.

When I first came across the “thank you” card concept on Triggerfox, my immediate reaction was “this is goofy.” But it’s been a hit with users, who love the idea of doing something different. It also has the potential to be a money-maker for Triggerfox, which charges a fee after your free cards have been used.

The key lessons for startups and small businesses is recognizing that marketing happens in different ways and in different places. Yes, digital is surging as a marketing and sales tool, but there are many other effective ways to do un-digital marketing.

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Mark Evans

Mark Evans

Mark Evans help startups and fast-growing companies tell better stories (aka marketing). His strength is delivering “foundational” strategic and tactical services, specifically core messaging, brand positioning, marketing strategies and content creation. Find him via his blog
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