Promoting Your Small Business Offline

Although web advertising is an essential component of promoting any small business, it is not the only method, and not necessarily always the most effective one. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring offline advertising by spending too long on your internet marketing and search engine optimization.

After all, a banner advertisement can often be forgotten within seconds of leaving the web page or closing down the web browser, but a leaflet that drops through the door, a billboard advert passed every day on the way to work, or a business card on someone’s wall can help to get the message across in a different and physical way.

The exact nature of your business will help to dictate the best form of advertising and promotion to take, whether web based or in the real world. The audience you are trying to reach and the sort of message you want to get across will necessarily open up some possibilities whilst closing others. Clearly, if you are a firm of lawyers, then dressing in bunny outfits and handing out baseball caps outside the local supermarket may not be the best plan.

How many advertising methods can you think of? Often business owners think of a small number of web based ideas, and an even more limited number of real world ones. If your ideas of online advertising methods range from banner adverts to PPC, then you’re probably going to struggle a little thinking of real world techniques which work well. Not that these web based ones won’t succeed, but there is so much more on offer that works better.

All it really takes is a little imagination, and while it wouldn’t be recommended to abandon the traditional promotion tactics, it would also not be wise to rely on them alone. Just as with trying to get your website noticed by the search engines, and promoted to the top of the listings, it will be important to promote your business name, brand, image and services in the real world to ensure maximum publicity.

However, offline advertising is not just about reaching out to as many people as possible. You may well have a banner advert listed on ten thousand websites, and it costs relatively little, but reaching out to ten thousand people in the real world would cost a great deal more! Online, you may well accept that a great deal of your advertising will reach people who would never have any interest in your business. After all, spammers tend to target millions of addresses, knowing that 99% of them will have no interest, and simply delete them. Yet to reach 1% of people that might have an interest is enough to make the effort worth it.

In the real world, we can rarely afford to consider such a scenario and it is important to try to reach out and target only those who might very well have an interest in your products and services. The emphasis, then, is on targeting and applicability, or relevance, rather than sheer volumes and numbers.

If you are launching a small business, perhaps a franchise and maybe run from home, then you might wonder what options are available to you. Without a large budget, you’ll probably have to ignore the ideas of television and billboards, but these are only used by the large companies that can afford the big scale promotions which will only have a very small percentage success rate in the beginning. You’ll need low budget and a high success rate if it is to be worth doing at all.

Another issue easily overlooked is the maximum amount of work you could take on. Depending on the type of business you’re running, you may find that you have a maximum capacity in terms of clients, orders or work. A successful advertising campaign that brings in a hundred new orders might seem like good news, but if you can only accept half of them, then not only are you turning away work, but those you have to turn away are unlikely to come back in future.

Therefore, when advertising offline it is important not to exceed your likely capacity, and reach out only to limited numbers at a time, so that you can expand if needed, without running the risk of having to disappoint people.

You may decide to print off leaflets or fliers at home, or have them printed professionally, dropping these through letterboxes or slipping them behind windscreen wipers along the roadside or in a car lot. Perhaps sticking up posters in local takeaways and shop windows might help. But again, think of which shops and locations are most likely to be visited by those who may have an interest in your business.

Offline advertising can reach potential customers that web advertising overlooks. It is be important to think creatively, always keep in mind suitability and relevance, and never to over-stretch yourself in terms of what you can realistically deliver once the orders start to come in.