As a small business owner, it can be easy to assume that everyone is online and uses social media and other online platforms regularly. But while it’s true that a lot of people are active online, not everyone is. That’s why it’s important to at least consider using offline marketing for small businesses.
And it’s not just the older generations that might not be online all the time. Increasing numbers of young people are taking part in “digital detoxes”. And some people may only log into social media and check their personal emails once a week.
So, rather than focusing solely on digital and social media marketing, let’s not forget about offline marketing. A mix of on- and offline tactics is a great way for your small business to reach as many potential customers as possible.
Here are some of my top tips for making the most of offline marketing for small businesses. Just remember: Offline marketing doesn’t have to be old-fashioned – these techniques really get results!
It can be great to make new contacts on LinkedIn. But nothing really beats meeting someone face-to-face. Networking is a fantastic tool for offline marketing for small businesses.
Not only can you spread the word about your small business and raise brand awareness, but you can also connect with people who you may be able to collaborate with.
Before you head to a networking event, have a think about what you want to get out of it. Are you planning to meet potential new clients and explain how your services could benefit them?
Or would you like to meet other small businesses who you might be able to team up with on a project? Having a clear idea of your goals can help you get the most out of a networking session.
Find out what 7 lessons I’ve learned in business networking.
Speaking at conferences and events is a great form of offline marketing for small businesses. This will allow you to position yourself as an expert in your field.
You’ll be able to share your knowledge with a captive audience, as well as raise awareness of your small business.
You don’t necessarily have to speak at big, international conferences to be successful. Think about your target audience and where are they likely to be.
If you’re more likely to find them at small, local events then be proactive and reach out to upcoming events in your area. Or you could even team up with a couple of other local businesses and organise your own conference!
Create your own local events
Speaking of organising your own speaking opportunities, why not team up with some other local businesses to create your own local events? This is a win-win situation!
Not only is it great advertising for you and the other small businesses. It can also turn into something that brings the whole community together.
For example, you could organise an “Open Doors Day” with some other local studios, makers and shops. Invite people to enjoy extended opening hours, special discounts and maybe even a glass of fizz as they shop!
This is something people often think to do around Christmas. But local events like these don’t need to be confined to one special day a year. Why not collaborate with a local illustrator to create a map of your neighbourhood, with a “trail” of the best independent shops and cafes to visit?
You could even offer a special discount or free gift at each location, to encourage people to support their local businesses.
Collaborating with local directories & magazines
Print advertising can be expensive and it isn’t always easy to determine its effectiveness. But there are plenty of ways to work with local directories and magazines to advertise your small business without forking out thousands of pounds.
This can include editorial articles, as well as a variety of sponsorship opportunities, event partnerships and listings. It’s well worth considering this as part of your strategy for offline marketing for small businesses.
To get started, make sure you have a good press release written up. Then send it to local publications who may be interested in writing an article about your small business.
Always make sure it’s personalised for each publication and focuses on what they’d be most interested in. This way you have the best chance of getting great coverage without spending a penny.
Also, look out for publications which have directories or “what’s on” listings, as this could be a good place to advertise your small business.
A great example of this in Edinburgh is Bite Magazine, which features listings and adverts alongside editorial articles. Plus, it’s focused on food and drink in the local area, so it’s great for targeted advertising for Edinburgh-based restaurants.
Local Events & Trade Shows
Trade shows are another effective form of offline marketing for small businesses. You’ll be able to showcase your brand to lots of potential trade customers in person.
This is great because it allows people to see your products up close, watch demonstrations of how they work, and get a better idea of the story behind them.
Yes, this information can be included on your website (and probably should be), but it’s much better to experience it in real life. If, for example, you create scented candles – would a customer be likely to purchase one after seeing a picture online, or would they wait until they could smell them all and choose their favourite scent?
If a trade show isn’t suitable for your type of small business, have a look for other local events such as craft fairs or markets. This can be a great way to build up a relationship with your local community, helping you gain new customers and giving you the opportunity to collaborate with other small businesses.
I have an entire post focusing on how to set up a successful collaboration – check it out!
Leaflets and flyers
One of the most traditional ways of offline marketing for small businesses is handing out leaflets and flyers. And this is still one of the best ways – if done right.
Don’t just hand out random flyers to everyone and hope for the best. Many of these are likely to get thrown in the bin without even being read. Instead, think about who is likely to be interested in a flyer from your business, and where you’re likely to find them.
For example, local shops and cafes can be a great place to advertise your small business, particularly if you have a similar customer base. A good option might be to include some sort of incentive on your flyer, leaflet or poster so people pay attention to it.
This might be an offer for 20% off in-store, a free gift with purchase, or a complimentary consultation. Advertise the fact that this special offer is exclusive to customers in that particular shop or cafe. And maybe you can collaborate and their business can offer your customer something in return!
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
The Best Online Marketing Channels for Small Businesses
How to Choose the Right Marketing Channels for Your Small Business
How to Grow Your Small Business with Public Speaking
6 Tips for Exhibiting at a Conference or Trade Show