People wishing to launch their own startups this year will almost certainly use the web as the primary platform for reaching customers and making sales. It’s relatively inexpensive and absolutely necessary to build an Internet identity as a new company in today’s world.

Any business ignoring the Internet is doomed to fail, we all know that, but what those behind many of today’s startups fail to appreciate is the role classic retail-setting marketing plays in building a brand.

We’ve gone over the importance of offline advertising to startups before, so this time we’re focusing on a specific aspect of traditional marketing: grabbing attention in a retail setting. As much as the media and society in general loves to rave about everyone doing everything online these days, we all still spend money in brick and mortar establishments.

Many of us are in a pharmacy, supermarket, or department store at least once a day. Making your mark in these places counts if your startup idea revolves around a product to be sold. This holds true even if the majority of sales are to be online.

Online advertising – while useful in reinforcing brand recognition – is not an ideal place to arrange the first encounter. Internet users tend to ignore marketing unless they’re familiar with the company or product. Hence the importance of building brands.

This starts with a face-to-face encounter – something memorable in particular. There’s a reason custom cardboard displays remain a staple of retail floor and shelf marketing well into the 21st century. Designed the right way, techniques such as these work to attract attention and establish awareness.

Propping up a three-dimensional presence in stores across a city, county, or country – while time-tested in effectiveness – is still tricky, especially for greenhorn startups. First there’s the issue of securing the actual space within stores.

This is a necessary first step, because design features of any displays will almost undoubtedly revolve around where they will be standing i.e. how consumers will be seeing them.

Some states may require advertising for e-cigarettes, for example, to be similarly regulated to that of organic tobacco.

Negotiating the price of “renting” the space within a retail store to install displays and other advertising is easier than it looks, because ultimately the prices are pretty firm. It pays to be direct. With that said, have a plan in mind before the initial approach.

Scout retail chains and mom ‘n’ pops to get an idea for the design, then return with the rough draft idea. Battle a little over pricing but don’t dwell on it – just calculate whether it’s worth it or not and if so, work with the retailer to finalize the design expectations before bringing them to someone who can make it a reality.

The Internet is without a doubt an essential ingredient, if not the carbon base of all ingredients, involved in marketing a 21st century startup. However there is still plenty of room for real world advertising. In fact it’s in reality where most product providers are going to want to make their first impression.

Setting up displays for products in retail stores to attract attention and secure brand recognition may seem like an outdated advertising technique, but its effectiveness remains so long as folks keep going to brick and mortar retailers.