Whether or not you’ve been following this Internet marketing blog (which we hope you’ve been), it has now become obvious how huge a role online presence plays in helping businesses succeed. Increase web traffic, generate more sales and opportunities, and increase profits: it’s a simple equation. But it’s also one that can be solved using countless methods and formulas.
Keep in mind, though, that not everything has to be done online. SEO, online advertising, and social media management are great ways of enhancing your web presence, but there are offline ways, too, of achieving just that. In fact, one can go so far as to say that in order for your small business, store, restaurant, civic community, etc. to succeed, you should close the loop between online and offline. Remember: you can get away from the computer for awhile and still be able to take action.
Wonder how that’s done? Here’s a list of the top 5 ways to promote your online presence offline.
Spread the URL
The information that people get about the Internet doesn’t always have to come from the Internet. Sometimes, users remember official website URLs and blog links that they saw on business cards, or in the papers or magazines. So get your company URL wherever you can: in your business card, your letterhead, your E-mails, your press kits, even on those coffee mugs and mouse pads that serve as your official corporate giveaways.
It would also be terrific to get employees involved in spreading the word about your web presence. Do they even know that you’re running a company blog? Are they connected to your company’s social networks? Make sure you inform the people who work for you and let them know you actually do have a website, and that they should check it out.
Put up a sign
Let’s stay you own a café or a restaurant. Why not put up a window cling on your storefront or a sandwich board on top of your takeout counter? Make sure the sign is impossible to miss when someone comes in through your doors. Let your customers know that they can visit you online, too. And don’t limit yourself to posting just your official URL. Include your company or brand’s social networks, and invite patrons and loyal customers, say, to officially “like” you on Facebook. Don’t let the opportunity pass, especially if your customer base is composed of people who are likely to carry web-enabled mobile devices. Using their iPhones or Blackberrys they just might follow you on Twitter right there and then.
Engage with your real-world social network
Sure, Twitter and Facebook are the hottest social media sites out there right now, but there’s still nothing like a real-world social network of friends, family, colleagues, and customers – a network that’s ready to listen to you and find out more about you once you’ve engaged them compellingly enough. Grow that network. Join business groups. Find out how you can get involved in your local chamber of commerce. Reach out energetically, be it through professional events and groups or through casual gatherings. Give them that card of yours with the URL.
They want to find out more about what you do? Direct them to your site or blog. Are they interested in how you started out in the business? Lead them to your information page online. Don’t forget to ask if they’re on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and inform them of your social media profiles. Invite your real-world social network to connect with you online.
Join industry events and organizations
Another great way to direct more visitors to your site and enhance your web presence is to participate actively in industry events and let professional peers know what you have to offer online. There’s a unique advantage to joining, or even leading and sponsoring, an industry-wide event: it helps establish your authority in your particular niche. It also connects you to the other authorities.
You can even make a bigger impression by sponsoring events that are strategic to your business (and, of course, budget). Usually organizers would have packages that entitle you to great branding privileges, like having your brand name and URL on event publicity materials like banners, pens, t-shirts, etc. Also, set your official site as the default homepage on that PC at your trade show booth. Instead of barraging attendees and passersby with stacks of kits and folders, just let them use a kind of demo system where they can log on and access your website on the spot.
If there’s no appropriate upcoming event in the local calendar, organize one. It can be something as simple as a meet-up – or even a “tweet-up”. If you’re confident of the way you’ve engaged so far with your readers, subscribers, followers, and social network connections, then chances are you’d be able to get them to show up in person. Don’t worry about having to book a plenary hall at the best hotel in town; a laidback gathering, where all of you can just talk about the industry, would be just fine.
Traditional advertising and PR
Back in the day, advertising and marketing dollars were spent heavily on print, radio, and TV. And then Internet happened. Guess what, though? It still pays to get exposure from the traditional forms of media. Just remember – no matter what you’re up to – to close that loop between online and offline. If you’re submitting a press release or pitching a story to your local radio or TV station, make sure that the information about your online presence gets out there somehow. If you’re advertising in print, include your URL – and make it big enough, and not like a mouse’s doodle at the bottom of the ad. If you’re doing an on-air demo at your store and a TV crew is around, put up a printed banner or poster that would make your official site visible (and readable) to the camera. You never know who’s watching.