In order to establish a thriving Internet Business, you must use every channel available to you. This includes all the online channels, but it also includes the off-line world. Here are a few ways you can promote your on-line presence:
1. Word of mouth promotion
2. Brochures, off-line newsletters
3. Business cards
4. Direct mailing
5. Business Networking
(1) Word of mouth promotion:
Talk to your friends, families, and existing clients about your web site, they know you and hopefully trust you! Let them know what you are doing and encourage them to visit your website and to tell others. If you are on Medium let them know, unless of course you are writing articles you’d rather them NOT know about.
Make sure the people close to you know and understand what you are doing.
One day I had the opportunity to overhear my father tell an acquaintance what I did for a living. My business had been in transition for several years and the way Dad described my business was years out of date. It made me wonder how many other people in my life also had no idea what my business was about, or what I was marketing!
I made a point of telling all my family members, friends and clients about the NEW things I was up to.
(2) Brochures, Flyers, leaflets:
Describe your business in writing. Make it short and as simple as you can. Promote the benefits of doing business with you. I’ve seen businesses spend good money on a full color brochure and then neglect to include all the important contact information … be sure to have your address, phone number, website and email address at the end of your brochure.
For many of you a brochure is definitely NOT the way to go. But there are as many businesses who could use a brochure and don’t have one. A new massage therapy business recently opened, in a local shopping center. I was curious, so I popped in to get some information. I looked around, and then asked for an information brochure … “NO we don’t have one … why don’t you just go to our website and find everything there?” OK can I have a business card? They didn’t have one. They expected me to remember the name of their business and/or the name of their website.
By the time I got home, my memory bank was blank. This is NOT how to run a business.
In contrast, the massage therapy business I have gone to for years has FIVE different brochures, and business cards for each one of their therapists. Each brochure talks about a different kind of massage therapy (ie Aromatherapy vs Swedish Massage) features a therapist and has a price list.
Physical newsletters can be great if you have a business that fits “waiting rooms,” such as doctors or dentists or other therapy related offices. I helped one client produce a physical “newsletter” four times a year. The four page newsletter was printed on a good quality glossy stock. It contained a short but interesting article, some tidbits and of course, her promos and a strong call to action for her services. She networks with about fifteen complimentary businesses and gives them a stack of newsletters for their reception rooms. She is directly able to track new business that comes from the newsletters.
(3) Business Cards:
Make sure you have business cards that contain your web site and email addresses, give your business cards to the people you know or meet.
Some people actually hang onto business cards, or scan them into their electronic phone list. I’ve kept business cards for up to five years and then have contacted the person when I needed their service. I had someone keep MY business card for over 10 years … one day they desperately needed my services.
Business cards are CHEAP. Give them out liberally, don’t hoard them. Think outside the box! I used to have a database of writing contests on my website. One year I was speaking at a local writing conference. I had a special business card printed up advertising the Contest Database along with the website link. The conference organizers added my card to their welcome package and put a stack in their “sharing rack.”
Do you write on Medium? Have 500 “Find Me On Medium” cards printed. Hand them out liberally!
Check out MOO Cards they produce very, very cool and good quality business cards. You can design your own card on line and have them delivered in as little as two day.
(4) Direct Mailing:
Don’t forget real mail. Send out brochures or newsletters to targeted lists. For example if you are looking for freelance writing work, and specialize in speech writing, make a list of local politicians.
Experiment with post cards or small booklets. Though this doesn’t quite quality as “direct mail” … put three or four business cards into EVERY envelope you mail out.
Again, think outside the box. Get your kids to hand address the envelopes. Plaster the envelope with a dozen stamps instead of a boring machine stamp.
(5) In-person Networking
Those of us who run Internet related businesses often find ourselves sitting in front of the computer day after day. We can forget that there are real live people wandering about in the world … who aren’t on the Internet 24×7! Net-working with real live people is a great way of building your business, and getting out from in front of your computer screen for a few hours.
Personally I find this difficult. I’d MUCH rather be in front of my computer screen and on the phone!
I’m NOT going to even suggest “networking meetings.” I hate them and after attending a few found them too stressful for me.
In the past I made a point of finding out where my clients (or potential clients) went. In a nutshell … association or affinity groups. For the type of freelance writing I did a local chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators turned out to be perfect for me. The people who attended were actually looking for people like me AND were in a position to hire me.
In the past ten years I have been going to meetings through meetup.com. I go to several meetings a month, focusing on different topics. The people who attend are there to learn and share. Yes there is some level of networking, but people simply DO NOT wander around, bore you with an elevator spiel and hand out cards.
For example one of the meetups I go to is about low-carb eating. After attending several meetings I found a great low-carb recipe and printed it out. I just put a stack of the recipes on a table and they were all picked up. The URL at the bottom of the page was a special tracking URL … so I new exactly how many people visited my website as a result of that recipe.
Surprising to me, I have several long-term customers resulting from the relationships I developed at association and affinity club meetings. It didn’t happen overnight, but considering the actual time I put into it, it is actually quite magical.
There is a whole world out there that many of your competitors are not tapping into. Think seriously about how you can use each of the techniques. Not everyone lives on the Internet. Over the span of my freelance writing career I can say without a doubt that ALL my long-term clients, and best paying contracts were the result of face-to-face interactions.
In the end …
Successful marketing is the result of taking many different steps consistently.