Offline Marketing for Online Businesses Part One
This article is part one of a four part series. Stay tuned for the rest of it!
Online marketing is a huge part of growing your online business. However, you shouldn’t neglect the opportunities available to you for offline marketing to supplement the promotion that you do online. Sure, online marketing offers a global reach to a wide customer base. But offline marketing helps to build relationships, establish loyalty and create credibility for yourself in your niche. Those things all help to significantly grow your online business. Without them, you are cheating yourself.
Offline Marketing Builds Relationships With Customers
As a small business owner you have probably already figured out that loyal customers are the key to sustaining and growing your business. A one-time customer is nice but you need repeat customers to keep afloat. Repeat customers do far more than just spend money with you consistently. They also spread the word to bring new people to your online shopping cart. And offline marketing is one of the key ways to snag loyal customers.
The thing is that there is only so much that you can do to build a personal relationship with a customer online. You can thank them for their purchase with a personal email. You can follow up with them through email newsletters and social networking. You can create a recognition wall on your website honoring your best customers. Those things are terrific and important but they only go so far. You really take things a step further when you have a hand-to-hand, face-to-face interaction with a customer.
That personal interaction with a customer actually creates a memory for them. If I buy yarn online from a great Etsy store, I may love it and may or may not buy it again. If I go to an amazing fiber festival and have a really great day there and purchase some yarn from that same seller in a face-to-face transaction where they ask about my day and talk to me about the festival, I’ve stored a memory of them and I’m more likely to buy yarn from them again in the future, online or offline.
Offline Marketing Builds Relationships with Collaborators
Offline marketing is not only important for building those relationships with your customers but also for connections with the community of other sellers. Yes, in some ways those people are your competition. But they can also be your best support in trying to run an online business and support is something that all artists, artisans and small business owners need.
In the same way that connecting with your customers in person creates loyalty, connecting with members of your community will also create bonds. Those bonds lead to countless opportunities that can grow your online business. These become the people who think of you when they want to interview someone for an article, the people who ask you to collaborate with them on big projects, the people who you can turn to for advice when things aren’t going right in your small business career.
Can you establish those bonds with people through email and online connections? Of course you can. But if I have to interview someone for an article, I’m more likely to think of the person I took a local class from than the person I just responded to on Twitter.
Offline Market Enhances Credibility
And speaking of classes … offline marketing allows you a terrific opportunity to establish yourself as a professional in your field through such activities as participating in and ultimately offering your own classes. This takes your offline marketing beyond the mere stage of making important connections and into the important realm of being seen as an expert in your field. If I want to try a new type of yarn that I’ve never tried before, am I going to go to some random Etsy store or am I going to go to the Etsy store of a person who offers classes in dyeing and using that specific type of yarn? The expert is more likely to get my business. You want to use offline marketing to make yourself that expert.
Where to Market Your Business?
There are numerous opportunities for marketing your business offline depending upon your niche. However, there are some key places that make the most sense for getting started. In the rest of this series, we are going to look at the best ways to optimize your time and efforts when it comes to offline marketing. Part Two will cover the basics of trade shows and craft fairs. Part Three will look at how to network with local businesses. And finally in Part Four we’ll talk about taking and teaching local classes for the purpose of networking and growing your online business.