There is a well-known saying among writers that is highly relevant to the world of online marketing. “Everything starts out as a story and ends up as a story.” What happens in between is what your customers want to buy. The first story is told by the seller, and the second is told hopefully by a satisfied customer.
It is the relationship between those two stories that makes whatever you are selling unique. This is important because it demonstrates how important the relationship is between your offline and online marketing efforts. Ultimately, the stories you tell online lead to some kind of offline product, service or experience. One might even consider the two realms part of a cycle, much like the relationship between television or radio advertising and the real world sale of a product.
One of the key ways to make your online efforts more effective is to amplify them with offline marketing and promotion. If you think this may help your business, here are some things to consider.
The Real World Advantage
Three of the five human senses cannot be engaged online. Anyone who owns a restaurant knows this well. Nowhere on the web or in any video will you find the scent of fresh baked bread or brewing coffee. You can’t try a new ice cream flavor on a web site, and you certainly can’t pick up that expensive new bag or pair of shoes to see how they feel.
Once you recognize the fundamental relationship between the three real-world senses and their online counterparts, you will very likely immediately recognize how one can be used to complement the other. You can’t taste ice cream on the web, but you also can’t edit together a few minutes of video explaining how it was made from the kitchen either. A customer of a bookstore can read a book excerpt on the web, but they can’t turn the pages.
The Bounce Back Effect
Any marketing or promotion you do in the offline world should be arranged in such a way as to make your online marketing platform not just a destination, but part of a cycle. If you are running an ice cream parlor, for example, and you want your existing customers to try a new flavor or a new product type, it can often be effective to simply try to upsell them at the cash register.
However, if you can set up an online promotion that highlights or presents the new flavor in such a way as to do the selling for you while your customers are not in the store, then you will be getting the benefits of upselling without having to do the work yourself. This is an example of amplification and multiplication of effort. The key advantages to online marketing are continuity and low cost. Offline marketing is the exact opposite. It is usually one shot and rather expensive. When the two are combined, however, they fit together like precision machinery.
By and large, holidays are celebrated in the real world. This is true of both traditional cultural celebrations and birthdays, family events and so forth. When people are in a celebratory mood, they are often far more receptive to trying new things and spending a little more than they otherwise might. Those two facts are music to the ears of anyone trying to market online.
The holiday mood is a grand opportunity to complete your marketing cycle in one quick pitch. Offering services customized to occasions and events like Halloween, Valentine day can be a great marketing strategy to boost sales.
Suppose you are running a restaurant and you routinely host birthday or family occasion celebrations You also happen to be building a mailing list. Every party that comes through the door could be offered a round of desserts, for example, if the guest of honor joins your mailing list and enters their birthday. Guess what? You just guaranteed yourself a shot at next year’s party, and as an added bonus you know exactly when to send the invitation.
Speaking of mailing lists, you should make collecting those addresses a top priority.
There can be no reasonable doubt e-mail marketing is fast becoming the method of choice for savvy web-based businesses and more than a few brick and mortar companies as well. E-mail marketing services are growing by leaps and bounds and the companies and individual entrepreneurs they serve are finding the process of getting repeat sales and referrals from their subscribers a much easier proposition than finding new customers.
For any business with a significant real-world presence, the rapid growth of e-mail marketing should be a tremendous wake up call. Restaurants, stores with a lot of foot traffic and any business that caters to parties or celebrations should find it rather easy to very quickly build a list of e-mail addresses and paying customers to go with them. A simple offer of a free add-on at the moment of registration should be enough to encourage most people to subscribe. The minimal costs of getting that sign-up are very likely to be covered many times over by the chances the business owner will have to get new business and purchases in the future.
It has been famously observed by companies successful with crowdfunding and viral marketing that a few thousand “true believer” customers are often enough to provide most small businesses with substantial revenue and opportunity. When one considers how quickly the average pizza restaurant could build a mailing list of a thousand names, it should be obvious how central e-mail marketing could become to any company with significant customer contact in the offline world.
As long as a business can take advantage of the strengths of the two realms, making the most of offline and online marketing efforts is almost certain to become both easier and more effective over time. As long as the business owners make the necessary efforts to plan and document their program, learning where improvements can be made should be relatively straightforward. As with any initiative, testing and patience will be the key. The results, however, should be well worth the additional time and expense.
Helen Cartwright is a freelance blogger