In terms of marketing your products and services, the possibilities and potential of the Internet can make it easy to forget all about traditional methods of promotion. Sitting in a dark basement, clicking a mouse, might be profitable for you, but face-to-face communication and traditional marketing will always play an essential part in business, regardless of whether you provide the majority of your services online or off.
Online marketing has proven its worth over recent years, providing a simple, cost-effective, and lucrative solution to reaching a global audience. Businesses that use Pay-Per-Click advertising through AdSense or Facebook have realized the power of having mechanisms in place that work for us while we sleep, generating customers and promoting our products. However, these methods need a lot of testing before being finalized, and we need to keep an eye on our budgets to make sure that successful advertising campaigns don’t grow beyond our financial means.
On the other hand, offline marketing is much simpler to keep track of. When we invest a small amount in some eye-catching business cards, we are able to make contacts wherever we go, building on the first few moments of a new relationship to capitalize on the power of that first impression. Unlike a URL that requires someone to go home, load up the Web, and search for us, a business card carries all of our details in one simple and portable device that people can refer to, providing a quick prompt for them to pick up the phone and get in touch when they need our services.
The Power of Local Networking
In the old days we touted our services to a primarily local audience. This is because we had less accessibility through transport, and customers tended to trust people they knew and had met in person. For all the power of globalization through the World Wide Web, business owners should always remember the quiet power of their local environment.
I have a client who runs her own business, and she never goes “off duty” from promoting her Web development services. When people come over to clean her windows, maintain her garden, or even just to socialize, she finds out whether they have websites in place, and if they don’t she quietly and effectively persuades them to take her on to give them a great online presence. She has managed to get a host of free services by talking to people in the local area, building a website for them, and receiving their services in return . My friend has never forgotten the effectiveness of face-to-face networking, and looks on every new meeting or chance encounter as a potential sale. I am always amazed to hear her say she is building a site for her local bakery, setting up the village cobbler to sell online, or working with the landscape gardener to set up a new blog to develop his services.
Similarly, savvy business owners should take local opportunities to promote themselves and their products, putting flyers in their local mall, writing articles for the village newsletter, or dropping flyers in coffee shops and libraries. This quiet, cost-effective promotion can reap dividends when a chance advert catches someone’s eye and they feel comfortable choosing a local service provider to help them out. Unlike large scale online advertising, it is these small steps towards developing a locally-known brand that can provide the “bread and butter” revenue that we all depend upon to succeed long-term.
Other ways to attract attention include classified adverts in local papers, letting readers know who you are and what you do. Many newspapers are happy to provide the information for free, or for a nominal charge, and you get to capture the attention of people in the area who respond to the opportunity of sourcing their services from a local provider.
Another great way to gain local customers is by placing signage on your vehicle. It’s amazing how much people notice when they are stuck in traffic, and sitting behind someone offering services will often attract attention – this is a highly effective and budget-friendly way of saying “Look! I’m here! Give me a call!” Seeing livery on a van or vehicle will often prompt people to remember that they need your service in the first place, and even if they don’t get in touch straight away your advert will stay with them until they are ready to make a call.
Reaching a Happy Balance
You probably already have a sound strategy in place for your online marketing activities. You already understand that there is great potential in SEO for keywords, blogging, online press releases, and email marketing. You probably already use AdSense or something similar, and you’re probably busy using social networking to promote your business. If you are in that great place online where you have a recognizable brand and a firm process in place for generating online traffic and increasing your customer footfall, is it time to revisit the possibilities of offline marketing?
The great news is that both forms of marketing complement each other perfectly, so you’ll never need to choose one over the other when it’s time to plot your newest promotional campaign. A sign in a local shop can be as effective as an advert on Facebook, so build both of these options into your marketing approach. Combine affiliate sales with local articles, global online press releases with handing out business cards, and you’ll be well on your way to conquering the widest possible audience for promoting your services without compromising your overall strategic approach.
Your blog or company website will work for you in the background while you turn your attention to face-to-face business networking. Each time you hand out your business card, people have the chance to go back to their office and look you up through your Web address. In this way, you’ll capture every available outlet for promoting your services, freeing you up to focus on what you do best – running your company.