Meet myMarketing Cafe member Amanda Cleary Eastep.
I met Amanda through our SpinSucks circle and am so glad I did. Our world is highly digital, but what we do when we are offline can have a tremendous impact on our business. Today, Amanda is sharing offline marketing tactics and she gives us a bonus by suggesting action steps.
Amanda is a freelance writer for businesses and for nonprofits. She serves as a public relations and communications professional in higher education and also blogs about business marketing and family travel. Connect with Amanda in the comments below and on LinkedIn and for free tips on marketing your business, visit her website, Word Ninja, at amandaclearyeastepwriter.com.
Four Offline Marketing Tactics that Can Get You Long-term Results
Even in today’s world of tweets, likes, posts and shares, marketing your business “offline” is just as imperative as marketing online to ensure its success.
While the list of ways to market your products and services offline is as long as the list for online marketing, I’m focusing on four that you may not have considered. In addition, these initiatives have the potential for long-term results in expanding your faithful customer base.
Providing worthwhile work opportunities for students creates a partnership with your nearby college and its staff and faculty…many of whom are prospective customers. You may also enjoy some free advertising on occasion as colleges regularly share student stories on their websites and in their alumni magazines about the hands-on learning that interns receive at local businesses like yours. These types of publications may be mailed to thousands of alumni and community members. A college may look to its partnering businesses to sponsor golf outings or other fund raisers, but one college I know offers benefits to its partners, too, such as inviting them to free quarterly events to hear guest speakers and to network with fellow business owners.
Action step: Contact the student development or financial aid office of your local two- or four-year college to discuss the type of internship position you can offer and to find out what the college requires for the student to receive credit.
Be a columnist.
Local papers that still have print editions may be short on budget and staff. They also may be open to a local business person who is willing to lend expertise on a topic that is important to the paper’s readership. Do you already blog for your business? The paper may be willing to print a version of your posts that more specifically targets its audience. If you don’t consider yourself a writer, try a question and answer format. What kind of questions do your customers ask? Unless you’re in an unusually niche industry, many other people may have the same questions, especially when it comes to topics such as finances, real estate, relationships, and health. The only mention of your business may be the title under your byline and photo, but if readers appreciate the advice or information you are offering, they’ll seek your help outside the pages of The Anytown Weekly.
Action step: If you aren’t a subscriber, read archived issues of the paper to get an idea of the paper’s readership. Figure out what type of advice you can offer and how often, then contact the editor to pitch your column.
Giving of your time while trying to run a small business may seem impossible, but the benefit goes far beyond exposure for your business, especially if you choose a cause you’re passionate about. Serving on a board presents networking opportunities. Donating your goods or services for fund raising events places your name in front of hundreds of people. I serve on the board of a nonprofit and recently donated five hours of writing/editing services as a silent auction item for the annual fundraiser. The winning bidder is a newly established company that may have an ongoing need for my services. I also teach creative writing classes at the local teen center. An unexpected benefit has been the wonderful after-hours networking events that the founder offers to volunteers who are also business professionals.
Action step: If you’re not already volunteering, start small…and with the right motive. After all, the point of volunteering is to serve others without receiving anything in return, except maybe some warm fuzzies.
Remind your friends.
Yes, your friends and acquaintances know you have a business. And, yes, you know a personal recommendation can be a powerful influence. Asking friends to refer you to prospective clients is a no brainer…but when was the last time you did ask? We think, “Gosh, Joe knows I’m a great landscaper/caterer/real estate agent”, and we assume we’re always on our friends’ minds when they are asked for a reference. But people are busy; people forget. And it’s not our friends’ responsibility to do our marketing. We need to kindly request their help from time to time and to equip them to help us.
This week I overheard my physical therapist telling another person about a great massage therapist who was offering a holiday deal. Then she told me. How did I know that she was being intentional in her recommendations and had been asked to do so? She handed me a copy of the massage therapist’s business card as soon as I voiced my interest. This reminded me to ask one of my friends about a possible contact at a Chicago publisher to whom I could offer freelance editing services. She generously and quickly made the connection for me. Wow, all I had to do was ask, and BAM!, potential client!
Action step: Consider the obvious. Start with friends and family members and, if you haven’t lately, simply ask them to either refer you to another friend or family member who may need your services. People are always happy to help if they can.