If you want to expand your customer base and increase your revenue, you have to take the time to focus on promotion. Marketing is one of those guessing games that can drive even a professional marketer crazy, though. With so many people shopping online these days, knowing whether to focus on online or offline promotion can also be a challenge.
Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true tips and tricks that will help you market both places and figure out what is successful and what is not.
Even if your business is local, such as a service business or brick-and-mortar store, your online promotions can help you gain an edge on the competition. It’s estimated that 81 percent of consumers do online research before they choose which local merchant to do business with. When you understand how a well-implemented online campaign can drive sales, you’ll pay more attention to online promotions.
However, not all promotions are created equal. Small businesses can’t afford to just throw money at promotions and not see results. There are some strategies you can use that will most likely benefit your business.
- Social Media: As of 2017, 81 percent of adults in the United States have a social media profile. If you want to reach potential customers on social media, you must take the time to engage. Share the posts and tweets of other local businesses in the area, offer interesting tips and connect with customers to help spread the word. Don’t just spam your followers. Offer them something of value.
- Facebook Ads: Facebook ads are an excellent way to reach out to new people in your area. You can create an ad with a highly targeted audience, so you can reach a specific set of people. For example, if you own a local bakery, you might target people in your town who are over 18. If you are a local plumber, you might target homeowners in your town and the next town over.
- Pertinent Newsletters: Another way to reach people online is to team up with other business owners in your area who have online newsletters. Swap ads and recommend each other’s services. This allows you to expand your overall reach. The key is to find a business that complements yours. So, if you sell candy, you might want to team up with a local restaurant or toy store.
- Online Directories: There are numerous online directories. This is a place where people often turn when they need to find a specific type of business and aren’t sure where to start. Make sure you have a presence on sites such as Yelp, YP and even lesser-known sites specific to your community.
These are just a few of the more popular places to promote online. You’ll also want your own website and mailing list, of course.
There are a couple of businesses doing online promotions extremely well — one is a small skincare company called TruSkin Naturals. It sells exclusively on Amazon, but it reaches out to customers via social media and a mailing list, where it often offers discounts.
Another example of a small company using effective social media promotions is Red Mango, which is a frozen yogurt shop. It has put the time into gathering social media followers, and it promotes itself by offering gifts, exclusives and entertaining content.
You might think figuring out offline promotions would be the easy part of the equation. After all, print advertising has been around for hundreds of years. However, there are so many different options— and not all are effective for every business — that figuring out where to start can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are some techniques that seem particularly useful, even in this digital age.
- Trade Shows: Attending a trade show is one way to get your name out in front of local residents. For example, if you sell dryer vent cleaning, then you might want to attend the local home show and reach out to homeowners in your area. This will introduce your service to them and help you begin building a reputation.
- Window Graphics: One key to offline marketing is grabbing the attention of an overwhelmed public saturated with ads. Window graphics can announce a sale or event and draw people into your store. Window graphics are also a good option for any size budget, because they can be relatively inexpensive.
- Mailers: Another option is to purchase a mailing list and send out a flyer or postcard to those who might be interested in what you have to offer. For brick-and-mortar stores, you’ll want to offer a discount for customers who visit your location. If you are on a tight budget and can’t afford to purchase a list, you can also take flyers door to door. It’s a slower method of building a customer base, but every new customer offers the potential for additional word-of-mouth business.
- Hosting Events: Host a grand opening, a party for local children or any number of other events. Even better, team up with a local nonprofit so you can gain new customers and do good at the same time.
Old Navy offers a good study in how to effectively use window graphics. Visit any brick-and-mortar Old Navy, and you’ll instantly know what is on sale and what the new arrivals are because of the brightly colored window displays.
Lays Potato Chips is one example if a good use of both online and offline marketing melded into one. Lays holds a contest to come up with a new flavor, and it calls its contest Do Us a Flavor. It advertises this contest in print and on television. However, you need to go online to enter your flavor and to vote for your favorite choices once the finalists are chosen. It’s a brilliant use of integrating both online and offline marketing and gets fans engaged.
Integrating online marketing with offline marketing is one of the smartest moves you can make, because it gives you the widest reach possible.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.