As a business owner you want to have your brand out there for the public to see, and hopefully, engage with. A lot of businesses use online channels to network and market themselves, but did you know that there are also offline ways to do this? In fact, you may already be engaging in offline networking without even realizing it. In this post, it will go over effective ways in which your small business can network offline.
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It’s important to have different channels and strategies when marketing your business, which is why employing both online and offline channels is important. Here are some easy and inexpensive ways to network your small business offline, and hopefully expand your customers and partner base.
Trade shows are industry-specific events where businesses can introduce themselves to prospects and promote their products and services. Trade shows make a great offline networking tool because you are able to show off your product and talk about your business face-to-face with a relevant crowd.
Another benefit of trade shows involves competitor research. These events provide opportunities for you to size up your competitors, to see what they are doing and if there is anything you could or should be doing.
One last benefit of trade shows is that you can network with complementary businesses, whether through a partnership or other combined promotion. Take a look at trade shows coming up in your area or industry, and if you find one to go to, make sure to bring business cards to give out!
Flyers are a great way to spread the word about your business offline because they provide your audience with a tangible representation your brand. Flyers are most effective when they are visually appealing and organized, and if you do not have a graphic designer, there are plenty of easy-to-use tools available to create your own. One of our favorites is Canva, where you can easily create graphics of various sizes and colors, for free.
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When creating a flyer, you want to keep it simple but informative, and clean but eye-catching. Be sure to include your contact information, the name of your business and a brief sentence or two explaining the value you add. Flyers can be posted in strategic, highly trafficked locations, or can be given out at networking events or for promotions.
Coupons can help get the word out about your business offline by attracting people to your store. You might hand them out yourself, or partner with another complimentary business who gives them out for you. Giving them out through a partnership is an added bonus as it helps you to build your network and strengthen the community around you.
Coupons don’t have to offer massive discounts or free products. A simple add-on, added perk, or percentage off can often be enough of an incentive. Another way to spread the word about your business through coupons is by offering them to customers who refer others to you.
Offering workshops, seminars, and other informative events is another effective way of increasing the exposure of your business offline. For example, florists can do a flower arranging class, yoga instructors could do a wellness workshop, or restaurants could run a cooking class. Your event attendees walk away with useful and applicable knowledge that can help them to remember your business in the future, either for themselves or for others needing your service.
You may think that direct mail, or “snail mail” is an outdated and ineffective marketing strategy. However, direct mail still works, especially for home service businesses. Another way to reach homeowners through physical marketing collateral is with clever door tags.
If you don’t have the venue to host an event or workshop, you might want to look into speaking at one. Or, if you are not big into public speaking, perhaps enlist an employee who is. This will get your business out there to the public while at the same time putting a face to your brand.
Keep in mind, the events here aren’t necessarily massive trade shows or large conferences. In fact, local and industry specific events are better suited for getting in front of the right people.
Networking events are a must for marketing your business offline. No matter how big or small they are, talking to even just one person can have an impact. That one person now knows about your business and can refer it several other people—people outside of your network that may not ever hear about you. Be sure to follow up with those you meet at networking events with an email to facilitate ongoing communication and build a relationship.
Distributing business cards is one last method of getting your business more offline exposure. Business cards don’t have to be fancy, they just have to be useful. All business cards should include the name of your business, your name, and your contact information (we suggest both an email and a phone number). If you have a brick and mortar location, include your physical address as well. If not, you may still just want to include your city or region.
Spreading the word about your business offline is just as important as it is online. With offline strategies especially, you are able to offer tangible items that represent your business and help people to remember you. The more channels you can combine in this effort, the more you can facilitate your success, growth, and reputation.