So, you got yourself a nice little website set up. You’ve established outposts on all the major social media platforms, because that’s where your clients roam. You’ve run AdWords campaigns to become more visible to those looking for your kind of business in Google. If your pockets are a bit deeper, you even might have hired an agency to help you develop quality content and optimize for search engines. Well, it’s all fine and dandy but don’t you feel like something’s missing in your quest to attract visitors to your website? If the answer’s ‘yes’, then you might be forgetting about a whole other world outside of the Internet. Buckle up for the ultimate guide to offline promotion. And what to do next.
Before we go any further, I’d like to draw your attention to one important fact. What you need to realize is that all your current and future customers live and will always live in the physical world, no matter how much time they spend online.
Despite how the Internet has blown off, offline promotion is still big. Depending on the type of business you’re in, it may even be more important that your online moves in attracting new clients and building a community around your brand.
Many people may still be not very comfortable with the Internet, even if you or me are. Just as online marketing can support your brick and mortar store, offline promotion can boost your online presence as well. Besides, it helps you get an edge over your competition by entering areas they might not be in, and thus generate more business.
Ideas for offline promotion
The central point of offline promotion is the proper exposure of your website URL. If you want people to swarm your store, you need to let them know where it’s located. Obviously, an ideal scenario would be for you to have an easy to remember and short web address that reflects your actual company name as much as possible.
If for some reasons this can’t be done, you might want to consider buying another domain name solely for the offline promotion purposes and redirecting traffic from it to your original website.
In purely visual terms, a simple www.XYZ.com format will do, with the middle part containing the actual name of your business emphasized in one way or another. Make it all caps or put it in different color, for example. If you have a tagline or a slogan containing your USP, you can think about including it too. Now, let’s take a closer look at what are the more traditional ways of attracting visitors to your site using offline promotion. Oh, and do me a favor, don’t use any cheesy fonts, alright?
Put your web address on company assets
I mean anything, from email signatures, business cards, product packaging, letter headed paper, invoices, even envelopes. Maybe apart from email, there’s a huge chance that not only the direct addressee but anywhere from a couple to tens or hundreds of people will come in contact with your website URL.
Company vehicles are another carrier you can use to tell the world about your place on the Internet. Depending on the exact type of vehicle, the canvas you’re going to work with is usually pretty big, which gives you space to operate.
From a minimalistic design including only your logo and the address to full car-wraps with phone numbers, social media invitations and calls to action. The investment in this form of offline promotion isn’t huge, its effect lasts as long as you want and most importantly you probably reach thousands of people daily if you’re in an urban area.
Wearing corporate clothing
This concept is very similar to the idea of car-wrapping discussed above. First of all, I wouldn’t necessarily say you’re reaching a smaller number of people and you’ll see why in just a moment. For the sake of what I’m going to say next, let me also put corporate clothing under a larger umbrella of branded clothing.
Basically, I see two situations where you can wear your company branded clothing for offline promotion purposes. First, if you’re operating a business with a strong corporate identity and wish to uphold it on your premises, you might order your employees to wear full uniforms or at least t-shirts. Remember it’s a professional business setting, so don’t make advertising poles out of your employees. Remain tasteful by clearly conveying only the most important piece of information like, for instance, your URL.
The other aspect of wearing branded clothing is related to the off-work environment. This will certainly not be a solution for any business out there and will probably require you to get your hands dirty, well, actually more like keeping your shirt clean.
What I mean here is that you could attend events like trade fairs or other gatherings where your potential clients go, and become a bit of a walking ad by wearing a branded t-shirt. It’s cheap and can be fun if you approach it the right way, create a unique design and will be eager to network with people.
Optimize your premises for offline promotion
If you’re actually running a brick and mortar business make sure it’s properly branded. I’ve already discussed the company items you can put your web address on but don’t forget about the office either.
Again, don’t create an overkill by plastering your address all over the place but identify the key points of contact with customers and make sure they see where you’re at online.
This idea for offline promotion should be especially useful for businesses where people spend a little more time at instead of getting in and shooting out. I’m talking restaurants, clothing stores, healthcare facilities. Use the space you have for free anyway to deliver a message including not only your web address but also a call to action or a promise of some sort if a person decides to visit you online.
Since this is the ultimate guide to offline promotion, let’s not forget traditional media. National TV and radio stations will most likely be out of your budget but think locally. Classified section in a newspaper would be a start and shouldn’t strain your pocket too much. Targeting your clients via specialist magazines is also a good idea.
In case of radio or TV, the simplicity of your URL address and creativity of your ad would definitely play a role. Keep in mind when your target audience tunes in most often to maximize the impact of your delivery.
Who doesn’t like getting stuff for free, right? The trick is, however, that in order to make this kind of offline promotion work, the items you hand out must be useful to their recipients. An obvious advantage here is that your brand gets exposure anyway with stuff like pens, USB drives, badges, mouse mats, mugs or t-shirts being passed around.
To maximize it, though, get creative with the items and their shapes to make them desirable instead of discardable. The good thing is that you can usually order hundreds or thousands of pieces at an affordable price so this may be one the cheapest forms of offline promotion discussed here.
Advertising in public transportation
This is a bit like branding company vehicles but on the inside. A definite upside of this type of offline promotion is that you’re reaching a huge number of people. The prices will most likely vary, depending on the city, and maybe even particular transport lines, but they probably aren’t low.
Speaking from personal experience, I remember seeing mini posters on trams that actually caught my eye and I decided to read the whole thing but then again, I’m a bit biased in terms of paying attention to stuff like that.
I’d say that the visual design is definitely the key to success with this type of offline promotion. Commuters often don’t spend enough time on a bus or train to delve into an ad’s contents or are busy with other stuff anyway but if you target the right spots with unique messages you may achieve some success.
Creative ideas for offline promotion
Right, so now let me move on to discussing a number of creative ideas for offline promotion. They differ from the tips discussed above in the way that, on one hand, they’re more diverse, however, they all fall into the category of guerilla marketing.
I’m giving you some examples, not all of which could probably be put to immediate use in every single business, however, they do give you an idea of a direction you could go in. The beauty of guerilla marketing is that it’s limited only by your imagination and, well, probably certain regulations of law.
Advertising on a vehicle
‘Wait a minute, haven’t we covered that already?’ To some extent, yes. Although I have something a little bit different on my mind here. You can make things more interesting by buying an old military vehicle (or any other you don’t see in the streets on a regular basis) and placing it on a side of a busy highway or an intersection.
Put your web address and telephone number on it, paint something, give it a flair. It would be great if it was somehow accessible for pedestrians too. Then, a QR code linking to your website would work great, people could also take photos next to it and upload them to social media if it was unique enough. Voila! That’s offline promotion turned online at it’s best.
The art of advertising
This is probably the most creative offline promotion method of all those mentioned here. If you’re living in an urban area, there should be some modern and street artists for you to reach out to. In any case, take a look online, check out their portfolio and see what they will be able to do for you.
The art isn’t only paintings. I’ve seen stuff like custom-made, one of a kind, extremely detailed dolls done by graffiti artists up for sale. Depending on the scale of your project, this may not be the cheapest form of offline promotion but consider a barter agreement if you have something interesting to offer in exchange.
Video mapping projections
Using ever-more widely available technology you can display ad spots and projections on buildings. A smaller-scale project may involve your URL address shown on a wall in a busy spot in your city.
This type of offline promotion is still a novelty so by doing this, you’re gaining an upper hand over your competition. It’s even possible to display stuff on waterfalls so if you’re looking to make a splash, this might be the way to go.
Dressing up in a costume
This is kind of like a branded t-shirt on steroids. Having a brand mascot as an ambassador is a concept some companies are able to pull off well. Obviously, you don’t have to develop a character from scratch if you haven’t got one already.
You can get a costume sewn, that is somehow related to your existing brand or line of product, and have a person attend an event in it to raise your prospects’ interest and brand awareness.
Unique promotional materials
Forget about regular, rectangular leaflets that go straight to garbage can most of the times. Get creative! For instance, if you’re trying to promote a fitness / healthy eating blog, why not have a sort of a leaflet that imitates a bunch of grapes, where people could tear off ‘grapes’ with your website address? D’you get my drift?
Sponsoring an event
Show that your company is pro-community. By sponsoring an event or giving a lecture on some important topic at your local school, you’re getting an opportunity to get the word out about your company or brand and create positive associations with it in peoples’ minds.
To get the most out of such offline promotion, arrange to be able to distribute some promotional materials, have your web address displayed and let people know you’re on social media.
Develop a referral strategy
Word of mouth marketing is the best kind of offline promotion you can get. People are a lot more willing to believe what they’re told about a business by their family and friends than to yield to actual advertising.
Developing a robust referral strategy, where people who recommend your products get something in exchange, supported by actual high-quality services on your end may prove to be a fast lane to success.
What do you do after you attract visitors to your website?
Well, getting people to stop by your online store or blog is one thing. Turning them into loyal customers or readers and making them want to return is another. Without a doubt, to make people stay, you have to deliver top-notch products, services or content. That’s a must. There is a number of strategies, of course, to retain customers, however, discussing them all is beyond the scope of this post, so I’d like to focus on one particular item.
What I believe to be important is building a brand, which is a lot more about emotions and a lot less about simply remembering your logo, combined with building a community, or a following, if you will. Now, the latter process is long and may not have any definite destination.
To build a community around your website you have to give the people a tool to interact. With you and among each other. A comments section like Disqus would be a start but installing live social chat might be a better solution. Show your site visitors that you’re approachable and they can talk to you for free. Allow them to meet other users, unite around common ideas and build relations. Be a part of the community as well – answer questions, spark up discussions and resolve doubts. All this in real-time.
When I started writing this, I didn’t expect to give birth to such a behemoth of a post. Thanks for staying with me up to this point. I appreciate your time, so let me try and fit all this in a nutshell real quick.
Offline promotion is important. Period. Neglect it at your own risk. There’s a number of ideas that any business can put to work right away without having to reach deep in their pockets. There are some rather creative techniques you can try out but they’ll probably require a little extra effort on your end.
All in all, you should try at least some of the ideas discussed here, experiment and see what works best for you. You can also go ahead and mix traditional with creative approaches. Make sure to engage your visitors once you attract them to your site by providing tools for interaction like, for example, live chat.