Starting up an online business – small or large – is a big undertaking and your business plan should include some sound marketing strategies which will pull in potential customers.
If you are an upcoming start-up who is drafting a business plan or are an existing brand considering potential marketing strategies, I bet you have one thing on your mind: online marketing.
This is great; there are many benefits which you can take advantage of by executing a strong online marketing strategy. But, many of your potential customers may not (and probably do not) spend a lot of time on the internet, using their smartphones or scrolling through social media feeds.
By casting aside and forgetting about the possibility of offline marketing, you are reducing the visibility of your business or brand to a huge market of potential customers.
There are a ton of offline business strategies which you can easily take advantage of, and not all of them cost a lot!
Networking, Endorsements and Community Involvement
People still value businesses which are personal and have a physical image, because this is relatable. Face-to-face networking can help drive traffic to your website when the people you network with look you up and begin to tell their connections and network about you.
With online businesses, it is usually hard to put a face to the name. This helps promote brand loyalty and build trust among your potential customers and target market. By involving yourself in networking, having a presence in your local community or securing endorsements, you help your online business stand out among the crowd of faceless online brands.
Newspaper advertising is one of the most contemporary forms of advertising and it is still highly relevant in our ever-changing digital world.
We are not just talking about traditional local and national newspapers, but student newspapers too. These are highly popular on school and college campuses and, if your target market is the high school and college demographic, this is a very effective way to get your name out there. Don’t for a second believe students don’t read papers anymore, especially school papers.
Banner Printing & Flyers
It is very easy to design and produce eye-catching and effective banners, flyers and other physical advertising materials. If you’re not artsy enough to do it, you can usually hire a freelancer to do it for you at a competitive rate, and there are plenty of companies which specialise in banner printing and producing leafleting materials.
People are much more likely to pay attention to eye-catching banners and interesting flyers, keeping hold of them to refer back to at a later date.
Free Products and Competitions
Everybody loves a freebie and giving away some products for free through a competition or by other means is an excellent marketing strategy which is relatively low-cost, depending on how much your production costs are.
Even if you are a clothing brand, you could still have some low-cost branded accessories made which you can give away for free. People will likely post about this on social media, which will drive up traffic to your website and turn into sales.
Primarily suited more towards professional services and businesses, face-to-face speaking engagements put you in front of people who are there because they already have an interest in your business and what you have to say.
Speaking engagements also build up credibility and trust among your target market and potential customers.
Magazines and Print Publications
Industry magazines, journals and other publications will already have your target market engaging with them. If you can find a magazine or other publication operating in your industry, securing a space in that publication to promote your business or brand will increase its visibility and showcase it to engaged readers.
Ensure that the publications which you do choose are relevant to your target market and are reputable, with no negative stigma attached to them.
If you operate in a trade industry, consider attending a trade show where you can connect and network with other businesses, industry leaders and potential customers. Trade shows put your company in the spotlight and they are a great opportunity to put some of the offline marketing techniques we have discussed above into practice.
A trade show is the perfect opportunity to put up your company’s banner, hand out some merchandise, pass out business cards and flyers, speak to prospective customers and network with other business professionals.
Although many see cold calling as an annoying nuisance, this is not always the case. If your company has a particular reason to do it, cold calling can be a great way to reach out to potential customers to try and sell your product or service.
Cold calling can help you personally connect with your target market and drive potential customers with a pre-existing interest in your industry to make a purchase. Just don’t be pushy or rude, as this will paint your business in a negative light.
All these offline marketing techniques vary greatly in cost, effort and effectiveness. However, each of them still plays a huge role in modern marketing and can diversity your marketing efforts; you should not focus solely on digital marketing if you can afford not to.
New technologies, the internet and social media all have a huge and powerful role to play in modern marketing, but you should not forget the utility of offline marketing and the huge benefits it can have for online businesses.
Although marketing has undergone a paradigm shift, most successful businesses’ marketing techniques have a mix of both online and offline strategies which both generate leads which convert to sales. Creating a Facebook page, investing in a mobile app and engaging with your audience through Instagram are all powerful techniques, but offline marketing techniques are still alive and well.
Leslie runs Cube SEO, and although a huge supporter of finding business online he also likes his banners whenever he is training or speaking for brand awareness.