Marketing your business is like an equation with two sides: one side is conveying the value of your business, and the other is reaching the right people. You may be the best at what you do and able to articulate that to people, but if they are not the people in need of your service, you won’t get more clients. Conversely, you might have found your target audience—that is, the people who are most likely to become customers—but if you don’t know how to effectively communicate your message to them, they will not engage.
Reaching the right people in the right way can be a challenge, and may not require just a single set of circumstances. Rather than trying to pinpoint exactly one approach, it is better to combine a few initiatives that can work together and create opportunities for the right circumstances to occur. In order to balance the marketing equation of your small business, you will likely need a mix of online and offline marketing strategies. This post will discuss the reasons for and benefits of bringing offline and online marketing together.
Online and offline marketing both work toward the same goal: to increase awareness of your products and services, nurture your relationship with current and potential customers, and grow your business. What makes them different from one another is the way in which they connect with your target audience. They use different channels of communication, appeal to different mindsets, and are performed in different contexts.
Online marketing activities may include:
Offline marketing activities may include:
For any given marketing activity or business goal, there are online and offline ways to achieve it. For example, if you want to serve your community and increase your network, you could do so online via a Facebook group or Google hangout, or offline via a meetup or event. If you want to increase the number of free consultations, you might do so online with effective calls to action on your website and promote it on social media. Yet you could also do it offline, on postcards or with a sign in your store.
Furthermore, if you choose an offline activity, there are online ways to support it and vice versa. For example, if you host a meetup or event, you can promote it on social media. If you create a physical sign with a phone number on it, you can measure your results online with tracked phone lines. While offline and online marketing activities are different, they overlap in their benefits and are able to support one another and your overall business goals.
When it comes to online vs offline marketing methods, it’s not necessarily that one is better than the other. With today’s digital gravitation and advanced technology, many of a business’s marketing strategies will exist online. Your email and business website can help you to stay connected with existing and potential customers, and your social media and blog can increase engagement with your target audience and raise brand awareness.
However, there is still much to gain from offline marketing activities, especially for small businesses who are close to their community. Newspaper ads, flyers, postcards, trade shows, and events are all still effective in growing a small business today. Keep in mind that while many consumers are online, it’s not because they’re at home at their computer. It’s because due to mobile technology, people are able to gain online access at all of the offline places they go and during all of the offline activities they do!
By integrating your online and offline marketing activities, you can stick with customers longer and give them a more robust experience of your business.
The first reason you should integrate your offline and online efforts is because one of the key fundamentals of a marketing plan is consistency. While you have different business goals and different marketing activities for achieving them, the central messaging around your brand, your business value, and the products/services you provide should always be the same. By merging your offline and online marketing efforts, you don’t view them separately, but rather in relation to one another. This allows you to make sure that they are similar to each other and are both aligned to your overall messaging.
The second reason for integrating offline and online marketing efforts is because of the trends of today’s digital marketing landscape. Geodata and machine learning have lead to a rise in preference- and location-based services for people. More information is getting automatically served up to us, rather than found by searching for it. As a result, we are now expecting the offers and deals of the businesses we engage with to find us, not to be found by us. In order to meet the expectations of your customers, it is essential to bring your offline efforts online. Real-time marketing, such as by using social media to inform people of promotions and events occurring in the physical world, is one way of doing this.
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A third reason why you should integrate offline and online marketing efforts is that they will strengthen one another. By using one channel to promote the other, you increase the effectiveness of each channel while providing a continuous experience for your target audience. This positive experience will keep them engaged longer with your business, and longer engagement often leads to potential customers.
One last reason you should integrate your offline and online marketing activities is because you can expand your reach. It is a well-known fact that by sharing something online, such as through social media or an email blast, you can reach more than just the people who visit your store or live close to it. However, expanding your reach doesn’t always mean getting more people. It can also mean getting better people—that is, people better suited for your business, who are most likely to become customers or brand evangelists. If you take something that is online and promote it in store or on a flyer, you are likely to get loyal customers, who frequent your location or interact with you in person, to get online, engage with you there, and encourage others to engage as well.
Though digital marketing is on the rise, offline marketing activities are still important and effective for your business, and its role in the community. At the same time, some of the tried and true offline marketing activities that have worked in the past may lose traction unless you incorporate an online element to them. By combining your online and offline marketing strategies, you are sure to maximize the effectiveness of your activities and grow your business.