The Internet has made marketing to a wide audience faster, easier, and more affordable. But that doesn’t mean offline marketing is obsolete. While many businesses have avoided online marketing options, often to their peril, other businesses are missing significant business by not tapping into offline marketing to reach their target market.
Here are 10 offline marketing strategies you can use easily and affordably to promote your home business.
1. Business Cards
Business cards are cheap and effective, but many business owners are stingy about using them. Business cards make you look professional and are easy to share at any time.
While it is true that many business cards end up in the trash, there are ways to ensure your card is kept. One way is to put something compelling on the card itself. Instead of just having your business name, email and phone, have information or a resource that recipients want to keep. A Realtor might have a chart that helps potential buyers figure out how much house they can afford. An e-commerce store can have a coupon on the back of the card. A blogger can list benefits or free stuff available on her site. A coach can offer a list of tips.
The second way to entice a recipient to keep your card is how you share it. Instead of the old boring, “Here’s my card, call me if you need anything,” offer a specific way you can help. Find out what the recipient needs and why, and then tailor your pitch and handling of the card to meet that need. For example, a career coach might hand over his business card and say, “I know it can be difficult to write a resume that stands out. I’ve helped many people with that same issue. I’d be happy to share with you my strategies for creating resumes that employers notice.”
Business cards are very affordable, and can even be designed and printed from home.
Many people veer away from professional networking because it can be scary and often feels like sales. But done right, networking is one of the best ways to build a home business.
Networking not only gives you direct engagement with a potential client but referral opportunities, as well. Both have higher rates of conversion because people prefer to do business with professionals they’ve met or who have been referred to them.
While you can attend professional networking meetings, you can network anywhere your target market is located, such as tradeshows or events.
The secret to successful networking is to focus your conversations on the needs of the person you’re talking with. Like in all forms of marketing, potential clients don’t care about how great you are. They care about how you can help them. To achieve that, ask questions that let you know their wants, needs, and challenges, and then, when the time comes, hand over your business card and offer to help meet their specific needs.
3. Press Releases and Media Pitches
Press releases offer a great deal bang for your promotional buck. Not only are they free, but they boost your authority as well.
Writing a press release starts by having something newsworthy to share. It can be about starting your business, reaching a milestone, or receiving an award. Another option is to tie your business into current events or the time of year. For example, if you are an accountant, you could pitch an idea about unknown tax strategies during tax time.
Once you have the story you want to pitch, you need to write a press release, which outlines who, what, where, why, and how related to your story. The crucial part is to focus your release on news and why the public would be interested. It’s not an ad where you only talk about your business.
While some press releases will lead to an interview or sharing about your milestone, others will result in your getting cited or quoted in an article. Both are good as they present you as an expert.
Instead of a press release, you can opt for a media pitch. A press release shares news about your business, where a media pitch involves pitching a specific story or idea. For example, the media might not have much interest in covering a story about your business' one year anniversary, but it might be interested in a story in which you share how your home business started from an office in your closet and now has three employees.
Who doesn’t like to save money? Coupons are a great way to lure clients and customers to your business. This is especially true for people who don’t know you or your business. People might be more willing to try out your product or service for a discounted price.
You can giveaway coupons similar to how you share your business card by handing them out to someone who can benefit from your business. Or you can leave them in public places where allowed.
If you use direct mail (see below), you can put coupons in your mailings. Another option is to give them to your current customers and clients and ask them to share with others who might need your service or product. And finally, you can run them as an ad in your local print media.
Flyers might seem old school, but they still work because they can keep your name and brand in people’s minds as they go around town and see your posting.
You can easily create and print a flyer from home. To encourage people to respond, offer something, such as a free consult, a coupon, or another perk. To help clients connect with you, you might want to include tear sheets they can take home.
Once your flyer is made, post them where allowed, such as at mailing shops, grocery stores, the library, and anywhere else that accepts flyers.
6. Direct Mail
While direct mail can be expensive, it can be worthwhile if you have a compelling offer and send it to a targeted list. Direct mail can be an especially great way to re-engage past prospects, leads, or customers and clients that you’ve lost touch with.
Like a business card, there is potential that your mailing will be thrown away, so you want to indicate your offer or benefit on the envelope. For example, if you have a free offer or a coupon, make sure you print something like “Open for 20% Off,” so they’ll open the mailing.
7. Print Articles
Similar to publicity, having your articles appear in print media boosts your credibility. Further, you might get paid.
While pitching large national magazines and newspapers might seem ideal, you want to think about the resources your target market reads. For example, if you’re a virtual assistant that works with Realtors, you’d be better off pitching magazines and newsletters that Realtors read.
When writing an article, focus on solving a problem for your market. This not only helps the people who read it, but it will entice them to want to learn more about you.
Before sending your article out, make a list of media outlets that might print your piece. Read a few issues to get a sense of what it publishes and the tone of the media. Also, search for information on how to pitch an article idea, and then follow the instructions it gives.
8. Media Giveaways
Have you ever listened to the radio and been asked to be the third caller to win a prize? Those prizes are usually offered by local businesses in exchange for free publicity. While giveaways can be tangible products, they can also be services, such as a free consult.
Before contacting your local radio stations, make a list of items or services you can giveaway, and tie them into a current event or a theme. For example, if you’re an author, you can have a summer book giveaway since many people read during their summer vacations. If you have an essential oils business, consider giveaway a de-stressing oil set right after April 15 or another stressful time of year.
9. Seminars and Speaking
Like publicity and articles, seminars and public speaking present you as an expert, thereby increasing your credibility. They also give you a chance to show off your stuff and entice people to hire or buy from you.
Setting up your own seminar can be time-consuming and expensive, but there are many other ways to share your expertise without the hassle or money. In fact, you can even get paid.
One option is to contact the adult education program in your county, city or higher education facilities (i.e. community colleges). Another resource are the local chapters of associations related to your business. Many of these organizations need speakers and presenters for their meetings or other events they hold. Social clubs such as Kiwanis often need speakers as well.
10. Trade Shows and Events
Trade shows and events give you a chance to sell your goods and services, but also offer networking opportunities. Even if people don’t buy at that time, it’s a place to showcase what you’ve got and get information into potential customers’ hands through business cards, flyers, brochures, videos, and other marketing materials.
There is a tendency for many home businesses to rely solely on the Internet to market their business. However, you shouldn’t ignore offline strategies that can be equally as affordable and effective.