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Offline marketing is a term that sounds like an oxymoron today. Whether someone’s looking for a new place to eat, a new supplier for their business, or a place to board their cat while they’re on vacation, they’re likely to turn to the Internet.
Yet, as strange as it may seem to digital natives, there was a time when search engines, social media, and mobile devices didn’t exist. Back then, new and existing small businesses had to utilize what we now refer to as offline methods to advertise and market their businesses. And guess what! There are plenty of small businesses that still successfully use offline channels to win customers.
How do they do it? What kind of offline marketing works for small business? Consider these suggestions:
Offline Marketing Tactics
1. Direct Mail
You thought email marketing killed direct mail but you’re wrong. Take a look in your mailbox on any given day and you still see a ton of advertising. You might not respond to such strategies but many customers do.
There are several “secrets” to direct mail success for a small business. One is to build your own mailing list by getting contact information from customers and shoppers. Another is to be clear about who your target customer is and what you want to achieve with your mailing. Before choosing a mailing list or method, consider the age, income, gender and other characteristics your ideal customers have in common. It would be pointless, for instance, to send a postcard promoting your lawn care service to everyone in your county if there are a lot of residents in your county who live in apartment complexes or condos.
If you have a restaurant, auto repair service, or other business that would benefit by reaching everyone in neighborhoods near your location, you can choose areas you want to reach and keep costs down by using the US Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mailing.
Networking has been the mainstay of small business marketing for as long as small businesses have existed. That’s because people and businesses like to do business with people they know, or at least feel like they know. Networking is also a popular offline marketing tool because it’s relatively inexpensive. There are free and low-cost networking opportunities available in just about every community. You can use networking to build professional practices, or for any type of business. These networking tips will help if you’re new to networking, or if you haven’t been successful at doing it.
3. Relationship Building
Relationship building goes hand in hand with networking. People do business with people they trust and like. You become a trusted source if you’re seen often at local meetings and events and encourage contacts to talk about themselves, their interests and needs. By making yourself and your business familiar, you’ll build trust, business and referrals.
4. The Sign Spinner
You’re driving down the road and see somebody standing on the street corner wearing a Superman costume doing crazy acrobatic moves with a sign that says, “HUGE SALE TODAY!!” “Live advertising” works and it’s not expensive. Never thought you would try it? Sometimes moving out of your comfort zone results in big profit.
5. Cold Calling
The thought of cold calling may send a chill down your spine. After all, no one likes to have a door shut in their face or listen to a phone being slammed down. But here’s the reality: Cold calling works and successful businesses still do it. To make it work for your business you can’t treat rejection as a personal afront. You have to be able to cross that name off the list and move on to the next. Also, just like mailings, you want to choose prospects who are likely to want your service. For instance, If you’re doing repairs on a home, ask the homeowner for referrals and call those people. Knock on the doors of neighbors’ homes and ask if they need work done. Have a flier or business card to leave with them so they can call you in the future. (They’ll probably want to know how the neighbor liked you before contacting you.)
If you’re cold-calling businesses, ask for the person you want to reach by name. If you don’t know who the right person is, ask.
6. Sales Calls
Many companies that sell higher-ticket goods use sales calls to present their products and services in person to prospects. The sales call is not only a chance to talk about the benefits of your offerings and why they are valuable to prospects, but it’s also a chance to answer questions and objections right away, and to get feedback about what you sell and the buyer’s needs. To make sales calls productive, focus on making sales appointments with decision makers. Then, do your homework and prepare for the call.
7. The commercial
Local TV and radio advertising works for some types of local businesses. Watch and listen to see what kinds of commercial run repeatedly and when they run. Do they seem to be targeting an audience you want to reach? Are their products or services similar in nature and pricing to yours? Have the companies been in business for a long time? If there are enough similarities to your type of business and market, spend some time researching production costs, broadcast costs and expected ROI to determine if running commercials could work for you, too.
Have you come to rely so much on online efforts that you’ve abandoned what has worked in the past? Incorporating online efforts is vitally important but diversify your marketing strategy to utilize multiple channels.
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