If you've been on social media, it doesn't take long to see that the competition is stiff and EVERYONE is there, clamoring for attention. You'll need both online and offline methods to get more traffic and sales to build a thriving online business. To obtain a copy of this article in PDF format, click here.
Stand Out From the Crowd... Do Something Different
Competition is a good thing for you and everyone who uses a social media strategy to promote products and services. Social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach a wide and diverse audience to spread the word about your business.
The downside of this method is that your advertising messages are diluted by the sheer number of people who are doing the same thing you're doing. To build an online business, you'll need to stand out from the crowd with some offline marketing as well.
Offline marketing works well in to reach people in your local community and beyond. It can work well, depending on the method you use. The ones that work best for me are the ones that I use to spread the word as I go through my daily activities.
Offline methods are also a great way to bring in family and friends to give them information on how they can buy products and services. If done well, your offline methods will encourage prospects to join you on social media and community sites so that you can communicate with them directly and build a relationship.
Offline Recommendations to Build an Online Business
Promoting your home business business offline is just like promoting any business. You'll need promotional items, signage and marketing materials to spread the word about your business.
- Promotional Gear - Have t-shirts, caps, buttons, tote bags, mugs and other gear printed with your blog address and a funny, motivational or advertising slogan or phrase printed on them. Hand them out to friends and family to have them help you spread the word. Blogging slogan t-shirts like the one pictured are available for sale in the t-shirt collection in our shop.
- Printed Marketing Materials - Have letterhead, invitations, post cards, post it notes, bookmarks and flyers printed with a marketing message that appeals to your target audience. Letterhead and invitations can be used to send personal invitations and sales letters to representatives of companies you normally deal with. Examples include your insurance person, realtor, mechanic, accountant and other professionals to let them know you are starting a business and invite them to visit your website or join your community.
- Billboard Advertising - Depending on your business, it might be feasible to rent a billboard near your business on a highway or high traffic area. In my area for example, I've seen digital billboards that rent for $375 per week and the ad would run right next to a major highway. On the other hand, there are some billboard companies that may not rent to you for a week. There is also a difference in the cost associated with billboards that are covered with a sign versus digital billboards. For the ones covered in signs, the signs would have to be designed, and placed on the billboard, which will result in additional fees. Check in your area to see what's available. You might be surprised at how much billboard marketing can be, especially in smaller towns. There may be a board that fits your budget that will work well for your business. Do your research to find the best options.
- Trade Magazines - Advertise in trade magazines that are specific to your niche. Perform research to find smaller niche magazines and guides that your target audience will read. There are lots of smaller magazines that people still subscribe to that are available in stores like Barnes and Noble. Take a visit to your local bookstores to see what is available.
- Car Signs - Have a professionally designed sign placed on your car, truck or van that has your blog or website address printed on it. The best and most professional looking car signs, in my opinion are the kind that cling or stick to windows. Car magnets are a good alternative, however if they stay on your car long enough they may have an effect on your paint. While you're sitting in traffic at a light, when your car is parked, or while you're on your way to work, school, social events, people will see your advertising.
Partner with Storefront Business Owners
Find local business owners that you can partner with to promote your products and services. Things like flyers, business cards, counter mats, brochures and small promotional items are great items that can be displayed on counters, most likely for a fee. You may be able to find owners that will give you counter space for free, especially if you present a professional package and they can see how your items will benefit their customers. However you should expect to pay a small fee, either up front or monthly to the business owner for this service.
If you would like to have your promotional materials (flyers, brochures etc) placed in an establishment, possibly on checkout counters or waiting areas, you will have to contact the store's management team. The best way to be banned from a facility is to go in and place display stands like the one pictured in someone's store without permission. You'll waste a lot of flyers and stands as well.
You should write a sales letter that goes with your flyer that explains that you're starting a business a brief explanation of what your business does, and your desire to work with the store owner to service the needs of their customers. Make sure to include that you would be happy to send a copy of the flyer for their review.
Keep in mind that you may not get what you're asking for, but there may be room for compromise. For example, you may not be able to place a display, but they may be willing to place a flyer in the employee lounge. They may even allow you to place business cards on their checkout counter instead of flyers. If they allow you to place business cards on the counter or a flyer in their employee lounge, take the opportunity.
For the best results, make a connection between what your flyer offers and the products and services offered by the establishment. Your flyer should compliment what the store is offering, not compete with it.
Next, look at the websites for any establishments you want to partner with to see if there is a contact person that you can communicate with. To gauge interest, you can call, email or send your sales letter to the contact person, owner or manager. If they are interested, email, mail, hand deliver or fax a copy of your flyer so that they can review it. If they agree, purchase display stands and fill them with flyers. Once you've placed the displays, call back to check periodically to see how it's going and if the flyers need to be refilled.
Helpful Tips for Using Offline Marketing Methods
Place bookmarks, post it notes and small flyers around as you run errands. Great places to leave these items behind are ladies and men's rooms, and public powder rooms. In bookstores, you can place a few (only a few) bookmarks inside of any books that you look at. When the books are purchased, the buyer will find your bookmark and advertising message.
To make mailing easy, purchase a pre-qualified list of people who have indicated that they are looking for a business opportunity. Mail post cards or have a company like Vista Print to print and mail your postcards based on zip code.
The Power of Promotional Products
Don't underestimate the power of custom t-shirts and car signs to promote for you when you're not around. They are tried and true advertising solutions, and they are called the silent salespeople for a reason. There is actually a book called The Silent Salesman: Guaranteed Strategies for Increasing Sales and Profits Using Promotional Products, that you can purchase from Amazon for more information and ideas you can use in your business.
When you use promotional items, you don't have to be present, or if you are around you really don't have to say a word. People will read your message as you walk down the street, as you're sitting in traffic, as your car sits parked at the mall or at a restaurant. I've had people ask me (from the message my t-shirt) about my business while I'm standing in the checkout line. In those cases, I give them a business card and and depending on the conversation I give them a free sample and ask if I can follow up in a week. See how easy that is?
Always Be Prepared
Always be prepared, because you never know when an opportunity will present itself. One of the things that works well is to have a stock of business cards in your wallet that directs prospects to an introductory landing page that gives them the ability to sign up to get more information.
If you're selling products, purchase a supply of samples so that people can try your products. Buy an attractive bag if you don't already have one and Avery labels. that will fit your samples. Print your name, company and website on the labels and place them on samples that you can hand out to potential customers.
Have a stock of free sample packets that you can hand out as you meet people and go through your daily routine. As the spring/summer season approaches, get ready to start attending festivals, concerts and other events wearing your custom gear. Have your business cards and samples ready!
All you need is the right message that speaks to your audience, through humor, education, and awareness. At a minimum, place who you are, what you do and how to contact you on all promotional materials and samples. If you place your website on your advertising, make sure you're leading people to a landing page that will allow people to sign up for more information.
If you have a WordPress blog, use a plug-in like Pretty Link to help you track your campaign. Use Pretty Link to come up with a unique web address (like www.inaword.com/companyname) that you can place on marketing materials so that you can track the amount of traffic that comes from various locations. It would be a great idea to track the traffic that comes from all locations that are targeted for an offline promotion.
Buy key chains, pens or other small but useful marketing items that have your marketing message printed on them. Place the items in an attractive or clear container, to be handed out as freebies. Make sure you provide items that would be useful to customers or complimentary to the items the company is selling. For example, pens would be a great combination for any business that require customers to sign or fill out documents.
LEARN TO SELL ONLINE
Knowledge is the key to building a results driven, successful home business. Learn to sell online like a pro. through a platform that allows you to obtain the knowledge needed to build your online empire. Take these courses on your schedule from any location. Stop spinning your wheels! Get results no matter what you're selling!
Promoting your home business business offline is just like promoting any business. You’ll need promotional items, and marketing materials to spread the word about your business to your local community.