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How to Combine Online and Offline Marketing to Rev Up Sales
by Susan Urquhart-Brown Mon, 08/06/2012 - 09:11
If you’re running a business, people want to meet you. One-on-one contact builds trust and credibility. But they also want to be able to go to your website and learn more about your business, read an article you’ve written or watch a video. Whether you’re an aspiring or established entrepreneur, the best way to promote your product or service is to combine offline and online marketing.
It worked for a sailing school in California. For years, the school got most of its customers through word of mouth. The owners made sure that when new and potential customers contacted the school, they got warm, personal service and frequent follow-up. When the school launched its website, it was similarly user-friendly and welcoming.
While word of mouth is still a strong way to meet and keep customers, the school’s students said that it was the total experience – friendly staff, an interesting and useful website, and regular communication by phone and email -- that led them to sign up for a class.
The students were embraced from all angles. Combining online and offline strategies has the same effect—it transcends any single marketing approach and gives entrepreneurs a big advantage in selling their products, services and expertise.
Here are three tips that can help you kick start or maximize your combined online-offline marketing efforts:
1. Create a Call to Action: You must create an effective call to action for prospects and customers, such as signing up for an e-newsletter, attending an event, visiting a website, following you on Twitter, making a phone call or taking advantage of a special offer. The action can lead directly to a sale. But it can also be a way to spark communication and create a virtual or real-life community. Remember, while sales may be the ultimate goal, a great way get there is by sharing relevant, helpful information and staying visible to your target audience.
For example, let’s say you’ve joined a professional organization in your area and have been asked to speak at a meeting. You choose a topic that is interesting to your audience, perhaps on industry trends or new developments in the field, and do a great job delivering the speech.
Giving the speech raises your profile and gives you third-party credibility. The audience also has the opportunity to personally gauge your competence.
At the end of the speech, make sure to use social media and online marketing to create a call to action that will drive business opportunities, whether it’s engaging with your website or blog, following you on Twitter or participating in a webinar. Any of these actions promote communication, which leads to sales.
2. Pay Attention to Branding: When you’re marketing across different spheres, it’s critical to project a consistent image. That includes everything from business cards to blog posts to your “elevator speech.” Focus on perfecting the messages you want to convey and the image you want to project and be sure it’s carried through in all of your online and in-person marketing efforts.
In one example, a high-end women’s clothing store wanted to attract new customers and give existing customers a reason to visit more often. The owners knew that the store’s friendly, local feel was one of its big selling points. They hit on the idea of launching a speaker series that featured local merchants, such as jewelers and designers. They invited regular customers, who were encouraged to bring friends and family.
The speaker series and other events, such as fashion shows, fit perfectly with the store’s intimate, exclusive feel. They also provided a great jumping off point for online marketing. To capitalize on the events and keep customers engaged, the store developed a custom online newsletter with upcoming events and sales, as well as a professional-looking Facebook page with special promotions.
With all of its online and offline efforts, the store was careful to maintain a consistent identity and look.
3. Push Past Your Comfort Zone: Some people thrive on public speaking while others feel much more comfortable meeting one-on-one, talking on the phone or writing articles and blog posts. By all means, focus first on the areas where you feel comfortable. But also remember that building and expanding a business is an all-out effort, one that requires moving beyond your comfort zone, especially when you’re combining online and offline marketing.
For example, let’s say you’ve created a popular blog and also have a lot of Twitter followers. Those are great ways to stay visible and promote your expertise. But you also have to network. People love digital communications but they also want to do business with people they know and trust. It’s important to maintain a footprint both online and offline. While it’s not always possible to meet clients in person, and can be especially tough for online-only businesses, it is certainly worth the effort and can go a long way when combined with online efforts.
When it comes to combining online-offline marketing, the potential upside is huge. If you’re not taking advantage of the opportunities, it’s time to start. Choose the best strategy for your business and develop and execute an action plan with a timeline, metrics and measurable goals. Think of it as your personal call to action to build your business.
About the author
Small business specialty insurer Hiscox, recently ran a campaign with well-known small business authors called the “Hiscox Author Series for Entrepreneurs.” As part of the campaign, one of the authors, small business writer and consultant Susan Urquhart-Brown, authored the article that looks at how, as a small business owner or entrepreneur, to best maximize brand-building and networking activities both online and in-person. Enjoy the article and check out Hiscox .