Truly anyone can create a business online these days. It takes only a small fraction of the start-up costs of a traditional business, and can be up and running in days instead of months. But just because anyone can get an online business going doesn’t mean just anyone can be successful at it. The vast majority of small businesses fail during their first five years, whether online or physical. You’re still going to need a superior product and a great price, a tight hold on spending and a willingness to do whatever it takes to survive. And that often means coming up with out of the box ways to promote your business. Obviously most of your promotional heavy-lifting will happen online, since that is where you do business. But is that all the promotion you should be doing?
The easy answer is that you should also be looking for ways to promote your business offline. People may find your company through a search or some type of internet ad. But that doesn’t mean that’s the way they will hear about it. For one example, your website’s URL should always be a part of your physical letterhead and your business cards. While your business exists online, you could gain customers by passing out cards at a networking event or sending a mailer on that company letterhead. These are both ‘old school’ means of reaching a customer, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still effective.
Online marketing will be a core element of your promotional strategy. It’s simple to set up, affordable to execute, and flexible enough to be adjusted mid-stream if you see something isn’t working. You should always have some sort of search engine marketing program in place, a series of links connecting your site with affiliated partners and newsletters you can post on the web and in emails to current clients. But each of these strategies can be implemented in the real world as well. Consider businesses you regularly frequent, or others that are run by friends and associates and link up with them for promotions and mutual ad campaigns. You can split advertising costs in print or on radio just as easily as with online promotions.
Networking is another aspect of business promotion that will happen offline as frequently as online. Any quality internet business will have the support of various social networking pages, and the more active you are on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest the more referrals you will receive. However, people are inundated with requests and information on these sites, and it is all too easy to get lost in the shuffle. What can never get lost is the human interaction that happens at networking events. Remember, any social situation you go out into is a chance to promote your business. But there are also Meetup groups for every industry, mixers put on by local companies and professional organizations that might match up with your market. Attending these events is the way you will connect with other entrepreneurs, and you never know what will come of that. You represent your company far better than any store signs or web logos, and people want to work with their friends. Take the time to network in all ways, and you’ll find your path to success much more enjoyable.