In today’s digital world, marketing experts are always talking about how you can use online marketing and advertising to grow your small business. Online marketing efforts are effective, but that doesn’t make offline marketing methods obsolete. In fact, there are still many effective marketing activities that exist in the good old fashioned physical world. In this post we’ll go over 5 effective offline marketing strategies to grow your small business.
1. Make Your Business Cards Work for You
Business cards are a fairly inexpensive way to reach diverse offline audiences. Low-cost websites like Moo or Vistaprint make it easy to create and print out high quality cards with your logo. Bring them to networking events and tradeshows to form professional business relationships, but also be sure to keep a stack on you at all times—you never know when or where you might run into a potential customer!
In addition to handing your business cards out yourself, consider giving a stack them to other businesses that may refer clients to you. For example, if you own a sewing and tailoring business, you might ask to leave your cards at a local clothing and consignment store, and offer to refer your clients to them in exchange.In addition to expanding your reach to similar audiences, those in-person interactions will help deepen your connections with your community.
Another way to distribute your business cards is by giving them to happy customers to pass out to their friends. You could even attach a few business to community bulletin boards around your town.
If you do use this strategy, it’s a good idea to use tracked phone number on your business cards so you can see how many calls, leads, or customers your business cards are generating.
2. Give Back to the Community
Small businesses don’t often have the funds for large sponsorships, but have plenty of smaller scale opportunities within their community or industry. Perhaps a local youth group is holding a raffle, or a local organization is putting on a silent auction for a worthy cause. Create a gift basket of your products or donate a gift certificate for your services. This is a great offline marketing strategy that at the same time shows your support for your community.
Another type of this offline marketing strategy would be to give your time. Volunteer your services to a high profile local non-profit organization or charity. The connections you make with others there and the positive word of mouth that comes from giving back to the community will not leave your business unnoticed.
3. Talk to Local Writers and Journalists
You don’t have to shell out money for a front page newspaper ad to get some print coverage. Act as your own PR team and connect with local writers and journalists in your area. Get to know the people who are always looking for a story and tell them your own. That is, one that is relevant, newsworthy, and/or offers value to readers in the area. Your topic might be centered around:
- Something about your business that is unique in the community
- Your strong history with the community
- Launching a new business
- A new product for sale
- Bringing a new kind of job to the area
Not only is this type of print publicity free, it also has more inherent “worth” than many forms of paid advertising, since it is more authentic. You can typically identify the appropriate person to reach out to by looking at articles in the section you’d be looking to get published in. Many times, the writers have bios containing their contact information.
4. Create Holiday Gifts or Cards
As the holidays are approaching, you’ll want to have some holiday marketing activities in place for staying top of mind. One great offline way to do this is to send out holiday cards to your contacts with physical addresses. If you’re a solo-preneur, consider sending a card featuring your own family. If you have the budget, you may also want to consider sending a small holiday gift, like baked goodies or branded swag.
Be sure not to forget your partners! Expressing appreciation to your vendors strengthens your business relationships, which can create opportunities for all involved.
Reaching out in such a personal way fosters the sense of connection that customers and vendors want to feel with your business. In addition, showing them that they are valued will create a memorable impression on them, which makes them more likely to think of you in the future when your products or services are needed.
5. Make Use of Your Space
If you have any kind of physical “brick-and-mortar” location, use it for your offline marketing strategy! You can make the most of your space in many ways. For example:
- Warehouse owners can lease out extra, unused space.
- Restaurant owners can host a local singles meet up.
- If you own a nice space, like a coffee shop or storefront, you could host an event to support a local charity or artists in your community.
Connect with other local organizations, like charities or adult education programs, that can increase incentive and drive attendance. These kinds of in-person activities put the spotlight on your business and get people in the door who might otherwise not have known about you. The possibilities are endless – think outside the box!
Just like with marketing efforts in the digital world, it is important with offline efforts to think carefully about your short and long term business and marketing goals and determine which activities will best facilitate them. If you are trying to re-engage lost customers, holiday cards might be the best option to stay “top of mind.” If you are actively trying to seek out as many new customers as possible, you might need to hit the streets with some business cards. If you are trying to build up your brand awareness, a news article would be great for you. So, take some time to think through which offline marketing efforts are best aligned with what you need to accomplish to move forward with your small business.