Offline Marketing for Online Businesses Part Two
Offline Marketing for Online Businesses Part Two
This article is part two in a four part series. Read Part One.
In Part One of this series we talked about the great importance of using offline marketing to connect with your customers. The best way to do that is to sell your items to them in person. And the best way to do that is to become a vendor at local craft fairs and regional trade shows. In this article we’ll look at the best ways to use those locations for offline marketing.
Local, Regional, National?
When you are looking to attend craft fairs as a vendor, where should you look? Ideally, in your own backyard. There are definitely advantages to attending regional and even national events. As you grow, you may want to consider those opportunities for taking your online business to the next level. However, when you’re starting out, you’ll want to stay local because that’s where you’re going to gain the best following. People want to buy local these days, even though they may want to do that local purchase through your online store.
Bring Your Online Following to You
You already have an online following through your store, blog and social networking sites. You want to bring those people to the events you’re selling at because this allows you to make a personal offline connection with them that strengthens their loyalty to you as a customer. Here are some tips for doing that:
- Announce several times online that you’ll be selling at a specific event on a specific day.
- Invite your customers to join you. Encourage them to stop at your booth and introduce themselves. Let them know that you want to know them!
- Make it easy for people who know you to say hi. One way to increase your approachability is to put up a little sign on your booth saying, “hey, do you know me from online? Introduce yourself!” This reiterates that you truly want to know your customers and that you’re easy to get to know.
- Offer online customers an in-person discount. Create a discount code or printable coupon for your online followers giving them a discount at the in-person event only.
Tips for Being Approachable
Whether you’re dealing with your online customers or brand new people from the event, you need to be approachable. Just having your items on sale isn’t enough to generate loyalty. To market yourself, you need to truly connect with these new customers. Here are some tips:
- Stay moderately busy doing something that’s of interest to your booth customers. You don’t want to sit there doing nothing and gawking at them as they approach because that intimidates a lot of people. You also don’t want to be so wrapped up in mobile gaming or talking to a friend that they’re afraid to interrupt you. The trick is to do something that is specifically of interest to them. So, if you have a crochet business, you should be crocheting. If you have a T-shirt business, you can be sketching T-shirt designs where they can see you. This gives them something to talk to you about.
- Smile and say hi when they approach. Every customer, every time. And look them in the eye when you do it.
- Ask a question if it seems like they might want to talk. You probably have a good sense of when a customer wants to look at your stuff without being bothered. Leave them alone. But when there’s a customer that looks like they might want to talk, give them an opening by asking a question. Ideally, it should be a question that shows interest in them. I don’t want every craft fair vendor to ask me if I’m enjoying the fair or if I’ve been here before. However, I’m likely to remember the vendor who says, “I love that sweater, where did you get it?”
- Be genuine and be yourself. Yes, of course you should be your most professional sales self. And you should try to hide those nerves a little bit. But in general you just want to be you. That’s who your customers will connect with and come back to.
What Makes You Memorable?
At a big craft fair you’re just one of hundreds of vendors so you have to figure out what’s going to make you stand out. You’re not just there to sell stuff. You’re there to market yourself. What makes you memorable differs from person to person but here are some things to think about:
- Do you have a product that no one else is selling?
- Do you use a technique that no one else is using?
- Has a celebrity or top blogger liked your product?
- Were you interviewed or featured in a magazine?
- Have you been on Etsy since it started?
Take the thing that makes you unique and highlight it at this event. Put up a large-scale poster of the magazine article about you. Add “on Etsy since 2005” to the bottom of your banner. These little things make you stand out, solidifying the customer’s memory of you.
Offer Something to Each Customer
Offering a small token of appreciation to each customer is a great way to leverage your offline marketing opportunities at a craft fair. You can start by having freebies at your booth for everyone. Candy’s nice, of course, but try to make it something related to what you sell. For example, a crocheter might offer small crochet flowers or coasters made of scrap yarn. Each item should have a tag on it with your website info of course.
You can offer something slightly bigger to paying customers. Have two or three items that they can choose from. For example, let’s say that I buy yarn from several vendors but one of them says to me at the end of the transaction, “I really appreciate your purchase and want to offer you something in return. You can choose one of these mini-skeins of yarn or a 10% discount code off your next purchase”. Regardless of which one I choose, I will remember that vendor over the others and at little cost to them.
Full Circle: Take the Offline Back Online
All of the marketing that you do offline at craft fairs is most useful if you can get those same customers to then back you up online. Things you can do to bring it full circle are:
- Make promotional materials available. Business cards, online store sales announcements and fliers should be easy to grab at your booth.
- The mailing list. Every seller should offer people the opportunity to sign up for their mailing list. You can do this the old-fashioned way with pen and paper. Alternatively, you could set up a QR code to be scanned or a laptop queued to the sign up page.
- Offer a deal that encourages online activity. For example, put up a sign saying, “Heart my Etsy store for a discount”. Let people know that if they email you showing that they favorited your store they’ll get a discount code offer.
Don’t forget to come back for Part Three when we talk about how to network with local businesses.