These days, almost all marketing plans will put an emphasis on using online platforms, such as social media sites, to spread the word about your business. There's no doubt that taking advantage of the internet is a fantastic way to access a vast audience of potential customers, and it's something that every business should be doing. But to focus exclusively on online methods and ignore the offline approach completely is a mistake.
Never underestimate the power of making personal connections and injecting a human touch into customer relationships. You may not be able to reach as many potential customers via offline marketing, but each connection is much more personal. Successful marketing plans look at the audience they want to target and use a mix of online and offline marketing to reach as many people as possible.
Create your own branded merchandise
Designing your own branded merchandise is a great way to connect with customers, increase brand awareness and, ultimately, boost sales. It may seem like a big upfront cost but, if you set clear objectives from the outset and choose the right merchandise for your target market, you can get a really good return on investment. Doing something different and novel is a great way to capture customers' attention, but more typical merchandise like pens and mugs can still work with the right audience.
There are countless other kinds of branded merchandise you can use to promote your brand, from USB sticks and mouse pads to T-shirts and keychains. Just think about what your customers would get the most out of and choose something they would actually use on a daily basis. This builds a unique connection with the customer and keeps your business in their mind.
Be prepared to give something for nothing
Now that you've got some shiny new branded goodies, it's time to start handing them out. Generally, businesses tend to use a special occasion of some kind, such as a trade event, to distribute their branded merch. But you can just as easily give something out yourself in store when speaking with new customers, just bear in mind what items each demographic of customer might most appreciate.
People like to be given things for free, even if it's not something they desperately need. By plastering your company’s logo over it, you're drawing attention to your business while also building a personal connection with potential customers. Giving something away can be quite powerful. People keep items like pens and mugs for a long time, so having your brand in front of them will keep you in their mind. They might not need you now but, when they do need your product or service, they'll think of you first.
Don't forget the power of business cards
Business cards are just as useful today as they've always been and should be considered as a primary marketing tool. They are still something that people ask for and will expect you to have. A well-designed business card can tell the customer everything they need to know about your business in a couple of seconds and allows people to connect with you as an individual.
But handing your business cards out at networking events and chance encounters isn't the only way to go about it. Try leaving your business cards lying around anywhere that you might expect to attract new customers. This will vary depending on your industry, but restaurants, cafés, supermarkets, notice boards, trade shows, community events and conferences are all great ideas.
Similarly, if you run a local bnb, restaurant or even own a small electricians or plumbing business, consider popping business cards (or leaflets) through the letter boxes of those within your catchment area. You may be surprised at how many people will make a note of your service and call you up when they are in the market.
Build a presence at workshops and events
Having a physical presence at workshops and events both nationally and locally is a fantastic way to build brand awareness. Real life, in-person connections are much stronger and far more memorable than digital ones. Think about what your business has to offer people before hosting free workshops. If you can give people a fun or educational experience, while letting them know all about what you do, you'll be able to create customers for life.
If you're good at public speaking, giving talks and presentations is a very powerful way to get the name of your business out there and establish yourself as an industry expert. You just need a topic that's interesting and your audience will want to know more about and you're good to go.
About the Author
Andrew Dark is the Director and Co-Owner of printwear and branding specialist Custom Planet. He has been working in the printing industry since the 1990s. Custom Planet has grown to become one of the leading printwear providers in the UK.