When it comes to marketing tools, the rise of technology continues to inundate us with more options than we can keep up with. But sometimes, effective marketing means going back to the basics. So we asked 12 entrepreneurs to share traditional marketing tools that have had a surprisingly high ROI for them.

1) Face-to-Face Meetings

Getting out and meeting potential clients face to face, then working hard to build relationships with them, still yields the highest returns for us. Most of our customers are referrals from existing clients, investors and other service providers in our ecosystem. I spend a significant portion of each day meeting people, networking, following up with old contacts, and checking in with clients.

David EhrenbergEarly Growth Financial Services

2) Phone Calls

Picking up the phone and calling each and every one of my customers has been one of the best ROIs that we ever thought possible. We decided to call each and every one of our customers a few months ago -- turns out some were very happy and are now paying us more, while others were unhappy, and we had no idea. Since then, we haven't had one customer leave us.

John RamptonHost

3) Direct Mail

Nobody reads mail anymore. That's because there is very little of it nowadays. Direct mail is finally starting to stand out in the mailbox because it is often the only thing in there. Nothing beats getting mail, especially if it comes with a coupon to a business you like and a friendly, personal note thanking customers for their business.

Michael PortmanBirds Barbershop

4) Print Advertisements

Our products are especially popular with a higher-income demographic, which is still easy to reach through print advertisements. We've run a few ads in luxury magazines and have consistently seen tremendous returns. If your product speaks directly to a particular audience, you'll likely find a magazine worth partnering with.

Firas KittanehAmerisleep

5) Handwritten Notes

Handwritten notes are part of ZinePak's culture. Whether we're thanking a client, wishing someone a "happy birthday," or just sending a postcard to say "hello," I'm constantly amazed at how well this simple action converts. It's a great way for us to let our customers know how much they mean to us, and the overwhelming majority seem to enjoy getting a fun surprise in the mail.

Brittany HodakZinePak

6) Guest Posting

Guest posting has improved our SEO thanks to thousands of incoming links from influential sites, and it has improved our page views and our social media following by introducing new readers to our site daily.

Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

7) Retargeting

When it comes to ROI, retargeting is the single best investment you can make from a marketing perspective. It is not uncommon to see a 5-10X return on ad spend from retargeting.

Josh WeissBluegala

8) Speaking Engagements

Thought leadership is more important than ever. Even though there are tons of online avenues for growing your reputation as an industry expert, standing in front of an audience and sharing your knowledge remains a valuable way to establish trust with potential new customers. Speaking engagements also provide built-in networking opportunities, making them a two-for-one marketing tactic.

Heather Schwarz-LopesEarlyShares

9) Networking

Old-fashioned networking is the oldest form of marketing, but it’s super powerful. Conferences are a really great traditional marketing method because you can meet influencers, potential partners and clients, and existing clients.

Brock StechmanDivvyHQ

10) Public Relations Efforts

Our experience has proven that relationships and communication still matter. Recently, I’ve noticed a high return on the relationships we’ve built through networking and the exposure we’ve received from our public relations efforts.

Basha RubinPriori Legal

11) Targeted Advertising

We acquire recurring subscribers at an upfront profit through Facebook. We've found that targeting and the ability to brand our message and tell a story on the Newsfeed has helped us build our brand and gain customers. You need time, patience, and money to test and find ads that work. You also need to change them up every now and then to keep things fresh and conversions strong.

Carlo CiscoSELECT

 12) Email Blasts

Following up with my list of existing and prospective customers via email has been a large source of business. It takes some time to organize the lists of emails and write an email that is tailored to them specifically, but the return on investment makes it all worth it.

Stanley MeytinTrue Film Production

These answers were provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Originally published Dec 16, 2014 12:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017


Marketing Strategy