The international economy to date consists of more than 12 million different online businesses in a wide variety of markets experiencing varying degrees of financial success. While the online economy is clearly booming and only projected to increase in subsequent years, it is important that online-only companies take advantage of the market brick-and-mortar companies have been working in for years…the offline sector. That is right folks, even if you are an online-only business, only marketing online to your consumer base will surely result in remaining stagnant in your profit margins, which is similar to a death sentence for businesses that wish to expand. Instead, read the article below to identify strategies your company can use to stay ahead of the game as well as connect with consumers/businesses you never knew were in your employee’s backyards!
Strategy #1: Establish Networks within your Local Community
When your company embarked on the monumental task of establishing your online presence, you likely considered which social networking websites were most likely to contain your customer base. You likely combed through social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others to determine where your company was best positioned to make the most of their marketing dollars. This decision has obviously had important business repercussions due to the fact that a solidified social networking base often results in a core group of consumers who will purchase your products and help your company succeed in trying economic times. Where most online companies fail in this effort, is when they seclude themselves to purely online networks (Google’s AdWords is great but you cannot function on their services alone if you hope to stay competitive) and don’t attempt to broaden their horizons to the community of consumers they have around them in the offline world!
Within each sector of our international economy, whether it be online or offline, there are conferences where like-minded individuals and consumers unite to network! Sending you or your employees to these conferences with the goals of establishing new professional networks and connecting with consumers, should be one of your top priorities. If you are honest with yourself, you know that with your company’s online presence comes a certain degree of informality because your consumer base has never formally met you in person, neither have many vendors—the very people that sell you the products you need to be successful! That is why these conferences are so important, get out there shake hands with as many people as you can, engage in meaningful dialogue about them as people and the products they sell, and of course encourage them to check out your company as well! You won’t be disappointed by the results of this experience as many of these individuals will remember you at the next conference you attend and may even inform others they know to seek you out!
Strategy #2: Collaborate with Local Businesses to Establish Reciprocal Relationships
This strategy may need to be pursued in collaboration with your company’s marketing team because while you want to establish positive reciprocal relationships with others, their company’s beliefs or practices may not “play well” with yours. The image you portray to the public is oftentimes a result of partnerships you acquire in private, so using a thoroughly thought through set of criteria for establishing partnerships is highly encouraged. Once you have vetted through potential organizations to seek partnerships out with, send out your most talented employees to establish rapport with them so both your and their organization can develop in tandem. Once these relationships have been developed, maintain them by following up on requests, establishing work-related gatherings between the two organizations, offering them occasional discounts, and using other creative methods.
There also exists a special opportunity for online-only businesses with regard to using this strategy. Your organization specializes in the online marketplace and that is a distinct advantage you hold! Consider whether there are brick-and-mortar businesses with little to no online presence that operate in the same business arena as you. If there are, consider providing them with some of your online business tips while they provide you with some marketing exposure to their customers! In cases like this, both parties win!
Strategy #3: Integrate yourself into your Local Chamber of Commerce
This strategy is unique in that many companies rarely consider the importance of establishing a positive rapport with their local Chamber of Commerce office. This office is specifically designed to assist you in making your business successful! Through establishing a positive relationship with the individuals who work here, you will both raise awareness that your business exists and also establish credibility for consumers who may have initially been hesitant to request your services/products. The great part about establishing a collaborative relationship with the Chamber of Commerce is they advocate for your business on both a local and statewide level. This means your company is heard about in government facilities and you didn’t even need to hire anyone special to lobby on your behalf!
Strategy #4: Contact your Local Newspapers to Publish Articles about Your Business
In the “Middle Ages” (alright, maybe just a decade or two ago) there were collections of paper called newspaper that dispensed news articles to the local community. Did you know that these newspapers are still very much alive and well!? We acknowledge their existence and actually encourage you to do so as well because you are missing a huge opportunity to get your company’s name out there if you do not. Have someone from your expert team of marketers contact the local newspapers in your area or areas where you believe your product will be well received so they can publish articles about your company in their newspapers. Word of your company will surely spread afterwards and you should see at least some uptick in the amount of people looking at your business.
Strategy #5: Business Cards are no longer just for Brick-and-Mortar Companies
When the image of a business card sneaks into your mind, we venture to guess that it is often attached to some type of brick-and-mortar company where employees use it to distribute to clients who they would like to stay in contact with. Once these business cards are distributed, chances are you may never hear from the person again…why is that you ask? We anticipate this is due to several reasons but one of the most commonly cited reasons is because it feels a little too involved. Most people in today’s society would like the opportunity to browse in private, you know, like they would on a website! That is your company’s area of expertise so use it to your advantage. When you create your business cards, use images of your product in the background, include your website address, etc. Your business card should be inviting and connect those who receive to what your company actually does. Also, consider this: it may be tempting to use your landing page as the web address you give on your cards, but is there another customer-based landing page they could be directed to instead?
Strategy #6: Utilize Everyday Items to Publicize your Company
The society we live in today requires that many people are constantly on the go, whether it be to an appointment or their full-time job. That is why it’s important to put a twist on ordinary items to help make your company standout. Take a bicycling company for example; they can have their employees wear t-shirts well at work and people will notice them if they come into their store to purchase a bike. You are an online company and do not have the same luxury. So instead, consider having a line of people all on bikes wearing the same shirt ride through a busier part of town. This way you will receive the publicity you need while at the same time having fun. Additionally, consider distributing t-shirts to your frequent customers or just as giveaways. Having them wear your shirts is basically free advertising for your business. If neither of the above ideas seem like they would work for your organization, consider contacting your local connections (think coffee shops), to see whether you might be able to place a t-shirt or other item inside their store window?
While there are a wide variety of useful strategies listed above, we realize that not every company can commit to following them wholeheartedly, nor do we want you to! In fact, we encourage you to mix and match the strategies listed above to tailor them to the way you do business. If you find additional methods you believe would be beneficial for our readers to know about, feel free to include them in the comments section of our article postings.
In any case, we want to repeat to you the importance of taking advantage of our strategies, especially if your business is purely online. Implementing these offline tactics will give you the distinct advantage over your competitors! We wish you the best of luck!