by Scott McIntyre
Last week, I shared with you my thoughts on how the nature of your online business will influence any decisions you make as to whether you might consider targeting offline customers. Some of you commented that you are already using a range of techniques to spread your message to the world beyond the blogosphere.
Today, I want to look at some of the practical methods and communication channels you can use to promote your blog, or website, offline. Many of you are likely using some of the methods, while others may want to try the most suitable ideas as new ways for you to reach the offline market segment.
Promoting Your Blog Offline: What are the Benefits?
There are still many people who either a) don’t use the internet regularly, b) have never read a blog, or c) don’t blog themselves. When combined, these groups constitute a sizeable target market.
To connect effectively with these potential customers, it is necessary to engage in some form of offline promotional activity. If your goal is to attract these people back to your blog, then you first need to take your blog to them.
The following list of communication methods is by no means exhaustive. There may be additional ones you are currently using.
If so, it would be great to learn of them in the comments section.
Offline Promotion Methods
- Your current network
You probably have family, friends, and colleagues who either don’t read blogs or are not bloggers themselves. Have you shown them your blog? Often, your best customers are right there beside you now and these folk can become loyal customers or enthusiastic advocates on your behalf.
There is no more effective marketing tool than positive word of mouth when it is backed up by your quality product or service.
- Talk to local organizations
There will, no doubt, be organizations in your locality with an interest in what you have to say. Examples might include charities, church groups, Chambers of Commerce etc.
In my experience, these groups are keen to attract a variety of guest speakers to their meetings. If you are invited to address such a gathering, you can introduce your business to them (not by ‘hard selling’), and also distribute take away literature, like flyers and brochures, which carry your website contact details.
- Advertising in offline media
While advertising may be financially out of the question for a lot of smaller online businesses, properly targeted local media campaigns can prove highly effective.
If you have the resources, local television and radio advertising can provide a good way of getting your message seen and heard by customers in your neighborhood.
It may also not be feasible for you to take out full page ads in newspapers and magazines. However, a first step might be to run a small advert in the classified section of your local newspaper.
- Press Releases
Another method of interacting with the media is through the use of a Press Release.
Industry publications and local newspapers are always on the lookout for news stories that are of interest to their readership- who might also be your potential customers. By writing a good quality Press Release, which is both newsworthy and focuses on your business at the same time, your message can be conveyed more effectively than advertising.
In these cases, your Press Release stands a better chance of being picked up if you have cultivated a relationship with the reporter or editor beforehand.
- Company literature
In the daily running of your business, I’m sure you use many types of documents such as letters, envelopes, compliment slips, invoices, fax sheets, product packaging, business cards, etc.
It is important that your URL features on all printed material you issue as this is a cheap and ready made way of attracting visitors to your website.
- Branded goods
Many businesses find it useful to develop a range of supporting merchandise which carry their website address. Often, these items are given away free or as prizes in contests.
Examples of such items include: calendars, pens, pencils, mouse mats, coffee mugs, Christmas cards, t-shirts, bumper stickers, badges etc. The list is endless!
The key to selecting merchandise which is effective as part of your offline promotional activity is to ensure that the products are of high quality and consistent with your brand. This method works because the items get your website URL out into the real world and in front of the eyes of your potential customers.
There is, of course, an initial cost to produce these items, but they can prove an effective communication tool.
The promotional activities I have described above are only a small selection of the methods which can form the basis of an effective offline promotional campaign.
If you’re a blogger, leave a comment to let me know what offline promotional methods you are using? What are your experiences of these methods? If you’re a blogger who hasn’t yet engaged in offline promotion, which of the methods might suit your business?
If you’re a non-blogger, tell them how they can get your attention offline.