Four Offline Marketing Tactics that Can Get You Long-term Results

I am so pleased to introduce you to fellow 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 Cleary Eastep - Word NinjaAmanda  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.

Offer internships.

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.

Volunteer.

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.

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11 comments
jstolarsmith
jstolarsmith

Thanks! I'll check out Patch.com in my area.  Appreciate the idea :)

Marissa Buckley
Marissa Buckley

Excellent points. I love the idea of becoming a columnist and what a great way to multipurpose content you're already developing. I think we all can agree that developing content is cumbersome, but highly necessary to reach sales goals and connect with key audiences. I love finding great advice like this that helps me not only to save time, but leverage the content we're already creating to increase exposure. Thanks Amanda and myMarketing Cafe!

jstolarsmith
jstolarsmith

Thanks for these ideas! As a soon-to-be-launched internet business, I'm realizing that there are still local strategies that can help build our business.  While we aren't yet in a position to offer internships (we're hoping to be able to offer high school kids or disabled persons some jobs in the future) I like the idea of becoming a columnist (yes, we plan to have a blog) love the idea of volunteering and will certainly enlist friends. Great ideas and great reminders that on-line doesn't necessarily put off-line off limits!  Thanks again :)

jolynndeal
jolynndeal moderator

@Word NinjaThank you for sharing these tactics! I can attest to several.  Recently, I followed up with a reporter who wrote a story about my business and they are open to me writing an article on small business marketing. I'm thrilled with the exposure this presents.  I also believe volunteering makes the community stronger and it also connects you with like-minded professionals, that you otherwise might not meet. I like the idea of reaching out to friends. I've had my friends reach out to me, and you're right, I have no objection to helping.  I'll keep you posted on the progress of that one.

Word Ninja
Word Ninja

@jstolarsmith You're welcome. I would love to hear how it goes. If you ever want to follow up, just email me at wordninjawritingyahoo.com. 

Word Ninja
Word Ninja

@Marissa Buckley Thanks for adding to the discussion, Marissa! You're so right about the need to connect with audiences, which can be quite a challenge in this digital world with so many businesses, bloggers, etc. vying for the attention of customers. Even online, I believe it comes down to connecting on the most human level possible, providing something truly valuable and being as real as you can from behind a keyboard.

jolynndeal
jolynndeal moderator

@jstolarsmith Good for you with the business launch! Please keep us posted as to your launch, so that we can help spread the word.  I think Amanda brings up a great point about focusing on the local community. There is tremendous value through local connections.

Word Ninja
Word Ninja

@jstolarsmith Thanks for reading and for commenting. And all the best as you start your business! An option in regard to the columnist idea is to have a blog on Patch.com (I know, it's online marketing, oh well!). Depending on where you live, local Patch news sites allow readers to have their own blog. This is something I have been contemplating for a way to repost my Word Ninja posts. http://www.patch.com/ Not all internships have to be paid (although I recommend that) and work can be done remotely. 

Word Ninja
Word Ninja

@jolynndeal Following up with the reporter was a great decision; let me know what happens! Sharing your expertise is also a way of giving back to the community. As I mentioned in the comment above, your local Patch may also allow you to blog. 

jolynndeal
jolynndeal moderator

@Word Ninja @jolynndeal Thanks! I never thought of it as giving back but you are spot on!  I'll check out Patch. Sounds like a great resource.