Build a customer base

Some businesses like to think of themselves as being squarely in the offline space. It’s where they’ve always been, and it’s where they’ll stay. But it turns out that even the most conventional, traditional firms could benefit from moving their marketing online. The internet is a web of connections that brings people together from all over the world, making it the perfect advertising platform for any operation, big or small.

Salesforce, a big CRM company heavily invested in the digital marketing space, predicts that by 2021 - just two years from now - 75 per cent of all advertising spending will be online. Google and other advertising platforms online already earn far more than regular media, and they will continue to do so, thanks to their superior products. Firms that use online marketing can better target their customers, get higher returns, and build more convincing brands.

So with that in mind, how can your offline business market its products online? Let’s take a look at your options.

Create Tutorials About Your Products On YouTube

Let’s say that you’re an offline business that makes something - wardrobes, bicycles, cement mixers: anything. You might think that going through traditional media outlets, such as the local newspaper, is the best way to promote your business. But there are millions of people out there who want to know more about your product but don’t know where to go for information, other than the internet.

This need for information represents an opportunity. The internet provides you with a platform to educate customers about your products and explain essential features. It also provides you with the ability to give tutorials on maintenance, servicing and upgrades.

How, exactly? YouTube is arguably the world’s largest social media site, though it’s not often thought of that way. As a business, it’s easy to upload videos about your product, helping customers use them better, service them or maintain them. There's a massive demand for this kind of thing, but few businesses ever get around to doing it. Once customers see your videos, they’ll be much more likely to click through and view your website.

Start Working With Influential Bloggers In Your Niche

Online marketing isn’t just about Adwords and PPC advertising: it’s about creating influence and authority online. One of the best ways to do this is to work with a blogger who creates content in your niche area. For instance, if you run a photography business, you might want to link up with a successful travel photography blogger.

The reason offline companies often link up with bloggers is that they want to quickly expand their online audience without having to build it themselves. Working with a blogger offers instant exposure while at the same time, borrows from their authority and lends credence to your brand.

If you’re an offline business, there’s no need to go big and expect that the blogger will work with you long-term or actively promote your products. Even something as simple as a guest post on their website can be beneficial, providing readers with information about your company. If you have a website, you can also ask for a link to boost your ranking.

Speak At A Conference That Will Go Online

Successful businesses get other people to do their online marketing for them, where possible. Because of this, speaking at conferences is becoming an increasingly attractive option for offline enterprises that want somebody else to deal with the complexities of uploading and distributing material online.

The good news is that many major conferences now put videos on their websites and YouTube, exposing it to a much wider audience. Offline businesses can piggy-back on this, getting their content online without having to go to the hard work of promoting it themselves.

Firms can present information at all kinds of conferences, including TED Talks.

If presenting at a conference seems like too big a step for your firm, there are ways to take baby steps first. Making guest appearances on webinars at complementary outlets, for instance, is an excellent way to reach a smaller niche audience, again without having to build your internet presence from scratch.

Make Good Use Of Directories, Like Angie’s List Or Trip Advisor

Online marketing is much easier today for offline businesses than it ever was in the past, thanks mostly to directories and listing sites. These sites offer a ready-made and highly-visited platform for companies to get the word out about their products, without costing a fortune or having to develop systems themselves.

Perhaps the most basic example of this is Airbnb. Here entrepreneurial homeowners log onto the platform, take a few pictures of their accommodation, and then wait for people to book stays with them. There are listing sites for firms of practically every description. Etsy is great for firms in the craft sector that want to flog their wares online. Angie’s List is useful for contractors and other specialist services that want to target a local area. Trip Advisor is an excellent tool for any company in the tourism industry, allowing them to offer services online. And the list goes on.

Get Your Customers To Post Reviews On Trust Pilot

Offline businesses have a problem: customers want to see that other clients had a good experience with your firm. But if they can’t see independent reviews, then it’s hard for them to judge whether other customers did or not.

The good news is that offline companies can sign up to independent review sites like Trust Pilot and get them to organise reviews and publish them online. Customers will then be able to type in the name of your company and immediately see reviews in the search engine or on the review website.

Clients are much more likely to trust what their peers say than what you say in your offline marketing. Allowing customers to post online reviews is, therefore, a powerful tool that you can use to encourage sales and get a wider pool of people interested in your products. So what are you waiting for? Try it for yourself today.

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