Much is made of the ability of small businesses and independent professionals to market themselves for free online. And with good reason—the Internet is a great leveler, giving every business, large or small, the same potential to reach its audience. But too often independent professionals focus entirely on online activities, neglecting to do much of anything offline.
There’s a need to be filled here. Applying a small percentage of your marketing efforts to the offline world can help you stand out from the crowd. Believe it or not, there are many ways to harness the power of offline marketing for a minimal cost as well. Here are four ideas to get your creative wheels turning.
Contact local businesses to see if they might be open to working with you in some way. Whether your partnership is promoting each other’s services (if they are complimentary), teaming up to offer classes or workshops for your community, or simply offering encouragement and advice, there are many benefits to be realized by developing relationships with other self-employed professionals. You may even be able to work together on some projects or refer each other’s businesses. Be creative in the way you approach these relationships—you never know what connections may lead to.
Creating buzz about your business is a great way to generate publicity. Give the press a reason to share your story with their audience. Is there something in particular that makes your business a unique part of the community? Do you have a new service offering? Can you align your services with a current event? For example, if you’re in the accounting business, host an educational workshop about financial management around the New Year, or volunteer to help out a local non-profit organization with their taxes in April.
If you have a specific story or hook you think is interesting and relevant, pitch a press release to local newspapers, radio, or television stations. Even if you don’t have an immediate story, connect with local journalists and editors on social media or face-to-face, if possible. Introduce yourself, and offer your knowledge if they need a subject matter expert in your industry to weigh in on a future story.
Whether offline or online, word-of-mouth advertising is still one of the most effective ways to bring in new clients. The more energy and effort you pour into your first clients, the more loyal and devoted they will be to telling others about your services. Go above and beyond in your customer service. Add a personal touch to every transaction. Be memorable. By doing so, you will be creating a small army of people who will advertise for you passionately—and for free.
Find a local event related to your industry, and volunteer as a speaker or offer to lead a seminar. Events are not only helpful for networking, but taking an active role at an event is a great way to build thought leadership, establish credibility, and get your name out there.
If you have trouble finding relevant events in your area, create your own opportunity. Organize a workshop, volunteer your services to businesses in need, or reach out to a local organization such as your Chamber of Commerce and offer to lead a short, educational presentation for a pre-organized event. Becoming involved with your community is a great way to establish a strong reputation, build brand credibility, develop new personal relationships, and help out other small businesses along the way.
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