Most small business owners know the typical advice for increasing online traffic. Having a blog, building a social media presence, targeted online advertising, and running discounts and promotions are all important online ways to build website traffic. However, few business owners think about going offline to build their online presence.
While traditional advertising may be dying (think TV, print, and radio ads), that doesn’t mean that traditional networking is dead also. Business owners are people, and so are their customers. The rules of person-to-person interaction will always be relevant in business. In fact, by going offline, you can build the personal connections and trust that will drive traffic and sales. When you become a face, a real person, to your customers, you gain a significant advantage over your online rivals.
Many small business owners like the idea of going offline to build their business, but they aren’t sure where to start. This article will present two detailed ideas. The key to keep in mind is to start small – just like online engagement, you can’t be everywhere all the time. Finding one or two places to be truly involved will yield a lot more fruit than being sort of active in five or six.
Trade Shows or Fairs. Depending on your product, this can be a great way to build exposure and maybe even make some sales. If you make crafts or small items, an art fair or craft show can be a great way to get known and showcase your work. Businesses can also get a booth at an industry trade show. Here are some ways to make the most of your investment:
· Pre-Event Marketing. Make sure your customers and prospects know you will be at the trade show or fair. In addition, ask the organizer for a list of registered attendees. Review this list and contact folks who might be interested in your product. Believe it or not, postcards are generally the most effective way of contact in this case.
· Business Cards. Yes, in the era of online everything, business cards still matter. Fortunately, they are not expensive. They should contain your business name, website, email, and any other contact information you have.
· Giveaways With Your Website Listed. Handing out personalized pens, paper pads, and coffee cups with your company name and site may seem silly, but the reason so many folks do it is because it works. Find a useful item and put your site on the side. You’ll be surprised how much additional traffic it will draw.
· Have a Conversation – Make Connections. The bottom line of why you’re there is to make the connections offline that will bring warm prospects to your online site. Be human, get to know attendees, and follow up with a thank you after the show.
Local Chamber of Commerce. This often-overlooked resource exists throughout every state. In fact, larger cities may have more than one. This is a great place to go and meet other business owners, and to take advantage of opportunities to let folks know about your business and website.
· Subscribe to the Newsletter. This is an important first step before attending chamber meetings. Read them carefully – they can let you know what types of events the chamber sponsors and what types of businesses are involved. In addition, the newsletter will let you know what services the chamber can offer you.
· Attend Chamber Events. Generally, the folks at chamber events will be other business owners. This is a good opportunity to connect with them and find cross-promotion opportunities, where they might promote your site and product to their clients if it’s a good match. In addition, the people themselves might be a good candidate for your product or service. They key is to build relationships.
· Take Advantage of Chamber Advertising. Most chambers have packets that they send to folks who move into the city for the first time. This is a great way to get your business and website in front of new customers in a way that they will trust. In addition, there will be several other avenues of advertising through the chamber. All of it is backed by the chamber’s reputation, which makes prospects much more receptive.
· Create a Partnership with the Chamber. Many chambers of commerce have a way for you to partner with them more directly. Perhaps they will exclusively promote your product to their members. Others will give you contact lists with the understanding that they will vouch for your trustworthiness. Regardless of the arrangement, it’s a great way to get access to prospects and let them know about your site and your company.
These two ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Think about what business organizations or events you know about offline, and whether they could help you drive traffic to your online website. Then, get out there and meet people!