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Off line advertising

Do off line ads work to pull web visitors



2:45 pm on Oct 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm thinking about placing ads offline to pull visitors to my website, but my roots are strictly online. Anyone have experience placing offline ads in newpapers or magazines suggesting readers go to their website and buy something?

I'd appreciate hearing about any experiences, positive or negative.


11:14 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I paid $30 for some vinyl lettering to put on the tailgate of my truck advertising web design services and got several $1,000 + contracts off it.


2:27 am on Nov 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi all,

We did a test run with a local newspaper in the 2nd largest city in the UK (circulation of 400,000 .We run a car classifieds website and so we could tell if the advert worked or not by counting how many adverts we received for that particular area. To cut a long story short we didn't get a single sale and our hits were the same as any other day. That time we learnt an expensive lesson we stick to purely online advertising now and make good ROI on Overture Google etc. I'm sure you already know that you will give it a try anyway, so to minimise loss ensure you put your phone number on the advert.


2:37 am on Nov 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

volatilegx - I'm with you. That's why I say I love our magnetic signs. The magnetic signs for cars and trucks used to be fairly expensive, but now are not. For a very small investment, you can advertise your business to thousands along the roadsides daily - for as long as the signs hold up!

We have a yellow pages ad that is costing us a fortune and have had an average of 4 calls per month from it. We have an average of 12 contacts per month - usually straight through our website that is listed on the signs. We ask how people have learned of our services to try to determine our best courses of action.

They are WELL worth the investment.


6:02 am on Nov 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"I paid $30 for some vinyl lettering to put on the tailgate of my truck advertising web design services and got several $1,000 + contracts off it."


How big a population is the city where you did this tailgate advertising? What kind of truck? I guess it wouldn't be good to do something like that on an old farm truck, probably would want the vehicle to look good. I still would like to do it though.


7:24 am on Nov 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

grainfarmer....LOL...you never know. Being from Arkansas, I know several farmers who I think would be more inclined to trust an ad for farm equipment on an old farm truck. :)


10:54 am on Nov 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

OK, Ok, lol, I'm getting the picture ... an old farm truck loaded with straw and a sign on the side that says "www.lotsahairforu dot com for a great harvest" parked outside a midwestern barber shop.


2:35 pm on Nov 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

LOL, Mayor you are thinking pretty close to what I have in mind, but not exactly looking to advertise hair. I was just wondering how many people would have to see the tailgate of your truck to get a few of them to click through to website? And if it being an old farm truck complete with dents, dirt and paint scratches would discredit the ad on the tailgate.

I also would like to get an opinion for everyone: Has anyone tried a "small" outdoor ad, say like at a busy highway stop sign? My idea for promoting one of my farm websites has included the tailgate idea, and a simple 4'x8' sheet of plywood sign at a few select road junctions in the country where farmers travel to get to town for supplies, etc. Obviously, being in the country, it would not be seen by the same number of people everyday as in a big city, but it would be more targeted towards my audience.

Also, has anyone had much success in placing a small ad to promote your website in a "throw away" free classified ads paper, like a nickel advertiser, some publication you pick up free at your local gas stations in the area?

:) I am curious to see what some of you experienced marketers have to say. Thanks.


4:34 pm on Nov 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Years ago my father told me of an old typewriter salesman who spend many hours cold calling. Rarely was he able to see anyone in a company. He was usually told to make an appointment. Before leaving, however, he asked to use their restroom. To that request he was never denied.

This salesman always made quota. Many years later, during his retirement party, he was asked the secrets of his success. He cited none more important than the "seeding" of sales literature in company restrooms. He boasted each and every stall, in every company within his territory, had sales literature with his business card attached. Not only did he have a "captured audience" for his literature but those "captured" thought it was left there by a co-worker and not a typewriter salesman. Therefore it had more credibility.

I suggest to everyone a focused restroom campaign. Even take it to a higher level than above. Consider the ROI of having your domain name printed on every sheet of a 2-ply roll. A voice message every time a flush is made. Products on the top side of seats for women and on the bottom for men when the seats are lifted. Think of the fun developing theme based domains.


4:43 pm on Nov 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

I read on another site about a real estate company in the states (in a hot state) who gave a quart of ice cream to people who viewed properties with them.

Then the people were left with a choice - go on to their competitors and view more properties and let the ice cream melt, or eat it.

Ice cream rules over estate agents anytime of the dat! ;)



6:51 pm on Nov 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The topic question is as relative as the question "How many visitors can i get with a PR X site." or "How many visitors can i get if my site ranks #1 for my targeted keyword(s)" ...

Answer is: it depends - on your keyword(s) -> your theme -> your target group. I'm a publisher of various special interest magazines. You wouldn't believe how big the return is for some ads in our magazines. On the other hand some ads don't bring any return. So it's always a matter of what do i want to target using what kind of medium. Magazine's can be a great place for your advertising

- if the magazine is within your theme
- if it reaches your favorite audience
- if it has a circulation that is ok for you
- if your ad is well designed = clear claim
- if your design/theme fits into the rest of the magazine
- if you can get a additional press release

>Do websites work to get people to buy magazines?"

Yes, they do work ... sometimes ... it also depends (see above).

All in all there are several ways of testing and measuring the success of a offline ad / poster / flyer etc.

- Set up a dedicated site.
- Make a special web/offline offer.
- Make a coupon -> this is a great feature! Imagine designing your ad with a login ID and people that sign your site with this special ID can win something or get a discount rate. This way you attract people and you can measure the success.

I think good marketing consists of a mixture: CI, buz cards, letterheads, offline and online ads, press releases ... all you can get, all you can pay ... all of your creativity to find and test ways that _work for your special theme_.

My 2


2:38 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think a good way to also advertise is to buy advertisments on shirts for events like races, walks and fundraisers. For about $100 i was able to get one of my sites on arround 250 t-shirts. People are proud that they helped a charity by wearing that t-shirt and at the same time, advertising your services. Just recently I bought another t-shirt ad, t-shirts haven't be released but It looks promising. I'll update the status a little later one.


2:49 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Great thoughts on this subject. I am not sure that the web is all that compatable with print advertising. I do not tend to read newspapers or magazines in front of the computer. The result is that I seldom type in a domain that I have read about when I finally sit down in front of the computer.

Perhaps some really catchy, one word name, e.g. "www.widget.com" I could remember. Anything more, probably not. But even then, the print ad would need to be pretty memorable and compelling.

Same for TV, radio, etc.

Traditional media produce telephone and mail inquiries. The web's great draw is its immediacy. See a link, click on it. Move on and forget about where you just were, or bookmark if you might want to come back.

Ask yourself, how often do you type in domain names? I type in search terms, and posts. Most everything else is done with the mouse.


4:20 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Nell...:) funny story; no comment, though.
Someone mentioned it earlier, but word-of-mouth is my best form of offline advertising. That's why I try to make customer service my top priority.
Back to the farmtruck - if you're selling used farm equipment, I just really don't think it's a huge issue.

I know a few in your target market and they would much prefer to deal with someone who was at home in blue jeans and a pickup. Again, just my opinion as a non-marketing, non-farming, non-expert. :) Those same 4 or 5 people aren't big Internet buffs either, though. :)

Obviously, the vehicle comes into play in most scenarios.

For ex., I saw an old beater in traffic one day that had some advertisement like, "Want to make $6000 a week? Ask me how!" - kind of makes you doubt the sincerity of the claim when the car has a duct tape and platic wrap back window.

Or, along the same lines, you wonder what kind of NEGATIVE effect those [whatever college] Alumni stickers have when they're on a car that looks like it could collapse into a big pile of dust at any moment.

Black Knight

11:49 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

A couple of examples...

I myself am the first. I get almost all of my work from direct referrals. It is especially true with larger companies that networking not only goes on, but is the single most influencing factor on decisions of who to hire and what to try. When the marketing director at one company talks to the marketing director at another and mentions they are looking for an SEO, you can bet that when the other says "Oh you should try our guy, he worked wonders" it works.

I find that I get on average 3 good referrals from each client I take, while I almost never take the clients that come to me from online sources.

The second example is from one of my clients (a third generation referral since they were referred by a client, who was referred by a client). This client is the online department of a large nationwide chain of electrical retailers. Naturally, they push their site at the check-outs and in their brochures in store, as well as in their TV advertising. It gets them a lot of traffic, but they already have excellent brand recognition beforehand of course.

The third example comes from a multinational who ran a TV campaign in Germany, a poster campaign on the London Underground, and no significant offline advertising in France.

The German branch quickly grew to have three times as many users as the UK branch, largely on the strength of the TV commercials. The UK branch saw a very significant increase in users following their poster campaign, but deemed it cost-ineffective compared to online advertising. The French branch has closed.


4:10 pm on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We got the local paper to run a FULL PAGE story about us, with picture. Their circulation is 40,000, and we got only 200-300 direct hits from it over a week. Less than 1%. If a full page article gets that response, I wouldn't even think about a tiny little ad.

As far as I can tell, for us print is worthless.


7:31 pm on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We've had a similar experience where a product was featured in a very popular four-color magazine - 65,000+ subscribers.

Beautiful product photo, write-up, etc (all free) - but only 14 orders.

I would have been very sad to pay over $7000.00 for the same amount of advertising space (which would have been the paid value of the exposure).


On another note, if you have a junky truck and want to use it for advertising with lettering or magnetic signs....be creative!

If your web site is as messy as this truck.....

Your web site repair professionals!


11:18 pm on Nov 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

How big a population is the city where you did this tailgate advertising? What kind of truck? I guess it wouldn't be good to do something like that on an old farm truck, probably would want the vehicle to look good. I still would like to do it though.

I'm in Carson City, Nevada, U.S.A., pop. 54,000... it's the capital city of Nevada. I drive a 1997 Nissan 4x4 Extra Cab pickup... it's in decent shape and looks good.


11:26 pm on Nov 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Oh yeah... for my incorporation service, we advertise in California Lawyer, which is the Bar Journal for California... we run a classified ad for about $269 a month and have great ROI for that. We put our website URL and phone number on it.

When advertising in magazines, it helps to target your demographic tightly.


11:02 am on Nov 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I use a niche magazine to advertise my product in conjunction with all my online activity. Plus everyone gets a brochure, business card, pen, compliments slip with the URL plus telephone number and address on.
The phone goes all day, our website hits increase on a monthly basis so something's working!
Our position on all the major search engines has stayed pretty much constant for 12 months but incremental hits go up.
Therefore either all my existing visitors have stayed loyal plus new people on the web are visiting and staying or the offline stuff works. The only real way of knowing is to have a website address specific only to the offline activity but why do that? It dilutes the brand and eventually will get spidered so back to square one. In conclusion, do not ignore any opportunity to get the URL out - but keep to your budget. If it don't pay, don't play.


9:14 am on Nov 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

There is some excellent advice in this thread - I've taken a few notes already of things I hadn't thought of.

My slant is perhaps a little different. My company is making a healthy profit on the Internet - and I simply feel the need to invest. After paying to place the site in every directory/PFI you can think of, what else do you do? So I spend a few hundred pounds a month on targetted advertising in various media - I'm not sure what the ROI actually is - but we can afford it; it can't do any harm, and of course it raises the profile of the site through word of mouth.

The returns might not be visible for months.


9:41 am on Nov 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

>> I suggest to everyone a focused restroom campaign. <<

I loved that one Nell... you know, that's just the sort of laterally thought out approach that can really work. The worrying thing is that, pre-net, I could see myself doing something like that! Nice one.


10:24 am on Nov 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The car/truck thing is no joke - I have a client who sells laptops, and has four vehicles with website and phone numbers parked around the area. He seems to get a few to several calls and emails each week from people saying "I saw the car..do you have...?" and most of them turn into sales. His vehicles range from an old, beat-up Volkswagon van to a Cadillac Escalade, which brings in customers whose budgets are as different as his selection of laptops (he has everything from 486 relics to 1.8 GHz multi-media machines.) He basically parks them on any good-sized street that allows public parking, moving them avery couple of days.
Of course, this only works on a local scale right now, but I know that there used to be a company that would match up advertisers with cars nationwide - the web site had pictures of the available cars and stats on driving habits and locations..all of which was monitored by GPS tracking device during the ad campaign.

Also, in any technical field with alot of competition, it's important for potential customers to view you as an expert. The best way I know of to establish instant credibility with strangers is to give a lecture/speech. Consider contacting a local Rotary Club (or some similar organization whose members are often business owners/managers) and offer to speak about "Features of Effective Websites" or "Recognizing Good Website Design" or "Obtaining Maximum ROI from your Website." You know, just make up something that sounds interesting (make sure it's a topic you can talk about at length and answer?s on) and if it happens to - incidentally - cause some members of the audience to consider an overhaul, all the better. DON'T even mention that you do web work. That should be obvious based on your knowledge and, by not hitting them in the face with the marketing bit, you let them feel like they're getting ahead of the crowd by hiring an 'expert' like you.

This 52 message thread spans 2 pages: 52

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