Online and Offline Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

By on January 21, 2014

Marketing, advertising and public relations in general are of great importance to any business, including small businesses. They help the business retain and grow its customer base. They can be leveraged by adopting sound online and offline marketing strategies. Online businesses also need to incorporate some offline marketing elements into their overall marketing strategy. For example, an online business can post an ad in a popular newspaper or magazine so as to attract more prospects to its website. Here are some online and offline marketing strategies for small businesses that can be used to increase sales and the size of the customer base.

Online Strategies

It goes without saying that a well-designed website should be central to the online marketing strategy of any business. This is because a website is the most powerful online marketing tool for a business. A poorly done or overdone website will get in the way of the business properly meeting its target audience and achieving its marketing, advertising and business goals in general. This results in a loss in leads and revenue. Web design should therefore be a primary concern for a business. You should consider hiring a reputable individual or agency to deal with your business’ web design needs. After coming up with a well-designed website for your business, you should then think of ways to advertise your business on the Internet and direct traffic to your website.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing refers to marketing or advertising a website on search engine results pages. This can be done through search engine optimization (SEO) or pay per click advertising (PPC). SEO refers to the process of applying techniques to increase a website’s ranking in search engine results. These techniques include keyword research, link building and copywriting. SEO is free in the sense that unlike pay per click advertising, you do not pay for a listing in the search results pages for the keywords for which your website has been optimized. You can learn SEO basics on your own or seek the help of an expert.

PPC advertising involves placing an ad for your website on search engines such as Google and Yahoo. You will first be required to buy keywords. When users search for these keywords, your ad will appear in a certain section of the search engine results page such as the top or the side. You will pay for the ad whenever someone clicks on it. Upon clicking on the ad, he or she will be taken to your website. Where your PPC ad ranks among other ads depends on the price you bid to pay per click and the ad’s quality score. The score is dependent on a number of factors such as historical click-through rates for the ad and the keyword, the ad’s content and the landing page’s content.

Search engine marketing has the advantage of being cost effective. Taking SEO for instance, you can implement the techniques required on your own. PPC advertising can also be inexpensive since you can set a limit on how much to pay per click and per day. After the daily limit is reached, your ad stops displaying.

Mobile Advertising

This method of online marketing is becoming increasingly necessary for businesses due to the wide accessibility of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. One option available is placing paid ads on mobile browsers and sites. For visibility purposes, it is best for such ads to appear on the upper sections of the screen. It is also important for a business to have a website that works well on mobile devices. This can be achieved through developing a mobile application, having a mobile version of the website or making the site mobile-friendly, for example by use of right amount and size of texts and a fair number of images. Mobile advertising can also be done through placing paid ads within mobile apps.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing refers to the use of social media as a marketing tool for the business. According to HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Annual Report, social media produces twice as much leads as telemarketing and trade shows. Every business therefore ought to incorporate social media marketing into its overall marketing strategy. There are many social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn that provide access to an unlimited number of potential customers. Social media marketing therefore helps a business strengthen its brand recognition and interact with customers and prospects. The business can enhance sales and loyalty by offering special discount codes and coupons to the people in its social networks.

Offline Strategies

Despite us being in the digital age, offline advertising should still be included in the marketing strategy of a business. It enables you reach more customers and makes your business appear connected to the real world hence captures people’s attention effectively. There are number of tools that can be used.

Corporate Gifts and Promotional Products

Corporate gift giving is an effective offline advertising technique. It affirms relationships and establishes a personal connection between the business which is the giver and the recipients who may be clients or employees. The gifts need to be special to the recipients and may also have some form of connection to the business, which is usually the logo. Offering promotional products to your customers makes your business stand out from other businesses that don’t do the same. It is effective in attracting and retaining customers. You should ensure that the products are branded so as to encourage a form of loyalty from the customers that acquire them.

Mainstream Media

Mainstream media still ranks highly in the world of advertising. Advertising on TV, radio or newspaper will surely help you access a wide variety of potential customers.

Business Cards

You should have a unique business card whose color and design are eye-catching. You should then give out these cards to as many people as possible. You can pass them at special events such as dinner engagements and parties, and leave them at places such as schools, libraries and colleges.

Networking with Members of the Community

You can also market your business by joining a business group within your community. This will help you network with other people in your communities. You can also issue sponsorships or scholarships to members of the community as a way of demonstrating corporate social responsibility.

It is clear that combining elements of offline and online marketing will go a long way in helping your small business achieve its goals. It is however important to ensure that your strategies are within your budget.

This article is written by Lana Wilde. As an online researcher, Lana Wilde (Google +, Facebook) is a witness of how far online marketing strategies can go in promoting a business. However, she feels that each business has customers that are present both online and offline, and believes offline marketing should not be neglected.

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