Alternatives to Traditional Advertising

It seems people have never had had so many gadgets, activities, and places to occupy their time as they do now. With so much going on and everyone having such varied interests, many traditional advertising methods are losing some of their power. For instance, a TV commercial in a prime time slot used to be the ultimate marketing weapon, but now TV audiences are diluted as many former-TV-watchers use the internet for entertainment or record shows with a DVR and fast forward through commercials. As a result, such ads don’t have the same ROI potential as before.

On the bright side, as traditional (and usually expensive) marketing methods lose their foothold, the marketing playing field is somewhat leveled, which means even small business can get a lot of attention if they use savvy strategies.  

How to Boost Your Advertising Success

Unusual ways to advertise

First off, don’t assume spending more money on advertising will result in greater sales, since in today’s market some of the least expensive tactics can bring about the best returns. Consider viral videos, for example. They reach millions of people, and some of the most popular videos were made by amateurs with simple point and shoot cameras — no production company or expensive time slots needed. As long as the entertainment value is there, consumers will spread the word for you.

Still, even switching to alternative promotional methods won’t guarantee success. To truly get the most out of your advertising dollars, you have to invest in strategies that connect with your target audience, and the only way to do that is by knowing your audience inside and out.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Who am I trying to reach with my message?
  • Who already buys my product?
  • Who would buy it if they knew more about it?
  • What does my target audience like to read, watch, do, etc.?
  • What kind of message would they respond to?

Without answering such questions you won’t know if your customers would react better to traditional advertising, alternative, or a combination of the two. No matter what you determine, understanding your customers means you can save money by operating a more efficient campaign designed especially for those with the greatest potential for conversion.

Alternative Advertising Ideas

Alternate ways of advertising

As you’re thinking about what might make the best impression on your audience, consider some of these relatively inexpensive, alternative strategies, which may breathe new life into your promotional efforts:

  • Vehicle Advertisements – Connecting with on-the-go customers is a challenge, so why not meet them where they spend a lot of their time — on the road. Vehicle ads (especially wrapped vehicles) can make a bold statement and are hard to miss.
  • Sponsor a Restaurant - If you believe the statistics, most Americans eat out 2 to 5 times per week. That presents a great opportunity to advertise your brand on napkin holders, coasters, placemats, etc. Ask around to local restaurants and see how much they charge for sponsorship.
  • Social Media Ads – At this point, social media isn’t exactly alternative advertising, but many businesses still haven’t taken advantage of social ads. With Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, you may find a paid ad is just what you need to attract more followers.
  • Restroom Advertisements - Restroom advertisements have the unique ability to reach consumers in an undistracted environment, which means they are more likely to notice and remember your message. Determine what types of establishments your audience frequents and place ads in those locations.
  • Giveaways – Everyone loves free stuff, and while freebies are a tried-and-true marketing tactic, there are many new ways to promote your giveaways. Hold a raffle on your website, launch a contest on your Facebook or Twitter page, or give an eBook to those who join your email list — the possibilities are endless.
  • Sponsor Local Events/Organizations – Show consumers you care about the community by sponsoring a school athletic team, a public concert, or festival. Not only does it help others out but it generally offers quick exposure to large numbers of people.

These are only a few ideas which will hopefully spark your own creativity. The most important thing to remember is, with some imagination and planning, you don’t need a pricey 30-second TV or radio ad or a small blurb tucked in the corner of a magazine. Instead, focus on messages that grab consumers’ attention, make an impact, and are memorable. Also, keep in mind alternative advertising is inherently always changing, because what is new today will soon become stale when the masses catch on. So, always keep one eye looking forward and planning for another way to surprise your customers.