The second piece in the Small Business success series from GIO investigates how digital communication dominates marketing strategies for Australian start-ups across most verticals including health, education, business and gaming. The reason for this is simple: the internet is the default medium for modern business and an online presence can make the difference between success and failure.
However, neglecting offline marketing can be a huge mistake, because the traditional methods of communicating still pack a punch in this digital age. If you want your start-up business to take off, you’ll need to use both online and offline media in your strategy and present a consistent message. The risk of failure is increased if you neglect either element, but it doesn’t cost much to reap the rewards.
Neglect offline marketing and you are waving goodbye to potential customers who don’t frequent the internet or have limited browsing habits. Research into your target market and prior experience will help you determine how important this is.
Offline marketing is more than just paid advertising on TV, radio and newspaper. There are plenty of other communications vehicles to consider.
Booklets, brochures, articles. Producing your own booklets or writing articles for local newspapers on issues relating to your business are good ways to establish yourself as an authority on your industry. Putting together press releases for any potentially newsworthy activities also helps you gain coverage in the media as a business and you can always supplement this with paid advertising.
Radio programs. Landing a recurring spot at a local radio station helps you reach more potential customers and keep your company’s name in local awareness.
Promote yourself with novelties. Websites such as Cafe Press allow you to create branded novelty items that can be given away to potential customers. Whilst giants like Google can sell branded products, spending money on branded mugs, mouse-mats or pens can get your name into customers’ everyday lives. Produce something relevant, for example, IT companies could give away branded USBs.
Work with your local chamber of commerce. Getting involved with your chamber of commerce has numerous benefits. It provides networking opportunities, discounted advertising rates and input into the main issues affecting businesses in your area.
Network with relevant individuals. Getting together with other businesses increases your store of contacts. Your branded business cards should feature your company URL and websites like MeetUp will search for relevant meetings in your local area (or you can start your own). If you’re attending a meeting, see if there’s a spot to give a presentation.
With a synergy between on- and offline marketing and cohesive, on-message advertising, your online messages will get the most from your target market.
Start a niche blog. Blogs are a great way to set yourself up as an online authority in your market area. Blog about issues related to your industry and use your social media accounts to feed into it. You can also comment intelligently on other posts and encourage discussion to help put you on the radar.
Use Q & A Websites. Sites like Quora and Answers.com are great places to connect with and help your customers. If someone has a burning question, they post it for experts to answer. Becoming one of those experts in your niche adds further credibility to your online presence.
Create white papers. White papers are serious studies produced for B2B distribution. They help readers make decisions or come to grips with a burning issue. Writing these establishes your authority and gets your company’s name out to key players in your industry.
Start a forum. Forums are hives of activity dedicated to a particular topic. Running a forum related to your industry or field of expertise helps you connect with new customers and can keep them coming back to your site. They are time-consuming, because they require you to make regular contributions to keep the discussion going, but they can be very useful. There are a number of software platforms you can use, such as V Bulletin.
Make podcasts and YouTube videos. A podcast is the online equivalent of a radio broadcast, and YouTube is the online, user-generated version of TV. The advantage of these media is that they are free and connect with a wide range of people interested in your industry. If your posts are popular enough, you can even allow Google to advertise in order to generate some extra revenue. Generally speaking, your main source of income will be your subscribers. Using platforms like AWeber makes building a subscriber-base much easier.
Start an email marketing list. Email marketing is often over-looked, but a good email campaign offers regular updates to customers who aren’t followers of your social media sites. Keep your emails on message and remember to lead with the best new offer you have to grab people’s attention. But don’t send spam – it’s illegal. Get legal advice if you’re unsure.
Combining online and offline marketing reaches more of your target market and provided your approach is cohesive, can help establish your business in the minds of potential customers.