With all talk of importance of search engine positioning, online directories, keyword metatags and publishing your own ezine, you might be forgiven for thinking that online world is only one that matters when it comes to promoting your online business. Only occasionally will you see something like "and don't forget about offline promotion too".
Why do I need to engage in offline promotion when I'm promoting an online business? The reason is simple. The concept of a paperless office is all very well, but your potential customers live in an offline world. To get their attention, you need to reach them where they live. Here's how:
Every item of stationery that leaves your office is an opportunity to promote your website. Make sure your website address (URL) appears on every single piece of stationery including:
=> business cards => letterheads => envelopes => address labels => fax cover sheets => checks => invoices => receipts, and => reorder forms.
Tangible promotional items that people see or use every day are a great way of keeping your name in front of your customers and prospective customers. Make sure your URL appears prominently and it will be a constant reminder to visit your website.
Promotional items that lend themselves well to this concept include:
=> coffee mugs => paper weights => pens => t-shirts => calendars => key chains => magnets => bumper stickers, and => car license plate frames.
Printed materials are a great way to generate (especially) repeat business when included with product orders. After all, your existing customers are already predisposed to deal with you so make sure you take opportunity to promote your entire line of products and/or services to give them a reason to return. Here's a few ways:
Coupons are great to use as incentives for future purchases. Offer a range of coupons including percentage off orders (for example, "10% off your next order of $20 or more"), free shipping or free items (for example, "buy one, get one free" type offers).
Coupons can also be used to generate new business by making them freely available around traps. For example, if your business is educational software, make arrangements to have a supply of "30 day free trial" coupons made available at your local school.
=> Gift Certificates
Gift certificates are good because they allow your customer to share their discovery of your products and services with friends, family and colleagues. To be effective, especially in connection with services, a gift certificate needs to have a tangible dollar value to recipient rather than merely offering to redeem certificate for a particular service. This is because referral customer probably has no conception of dollar value of your service. The potential customer can, however, readily appreciate value of a "$30 toward your purchase of $60 or more" gift certificate.
=> Product Sheets
Product sheets are a way for you to make your existing customer aware of what *other* products and services you offer in addition to those they have recently purchased. This need not be any more elaborate than a one page price list but it can be as extravagant as a glossy product page replete with photos if your budget permits.
Brochures are an effective way to create a professional image and promote your products and services at same time. Give them to prospective customers for a quick overview of your business and to give them a reason to visit your website for more information.
Distribute your brochure whenever you get chance: carry them with you wherever you go and hand them out whenever you hand out your business card. Mail your brochure to current clients to inform them of additional products and services that they may be unaware you offer and to prospective clients sourced from rented mailing lists.