Some companies fall into a trap of building a website and engaging in social media without considering some offline marketing opportunities. Although we in the local social media marketing industry understand the importance of using the web to communicate to customers and promote our businesses to potential customers, we recognize that other channels can support your overall efforts.
Don’t Forget About the Basics
Step back for a moment. Ask yourself if you’ve covered the bases on things you can accomplish with relatively little money. Business cards are a given. Putting your company name on letterhead and proposals is a given, too. But there are other things that get overlooked. For instance, we’ve talked to several home improvement owners who expect to be found in local search tomorrow but have neglected to put a sign on their truck or company vehicle today. I’m not talking about a vehicle wrap. Simple lettering or even a door magnet with your company’s name or logo, phone number and web address gets your name out – whether you are in traffic, parked at a shopping center, or in front of a client’s address. People notice those things. After all, if you’re paying for gasoline, you might as well advertise and maximize your travel expenses. And don’t forget, when your company name is on the vehicle, be a courteous driver.
Do More with a Limited Budget
Some businesses, especially small companies, have limited marketing budgets and staff. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find success; it just means you might have to be more creative. Here are a few ideas:
- Call some of your best customers and ask them to post reviews online. The customers who love you the most will do it for no strings attached – they’ll do it because they believe in you and want you to succeed.
- Be seen as a trusted expert. Introduce yourself to members of the local media through a friendly, concise letter or an email, then follow up with a phone call. (And always use Spell Check.) Editors at news outlets need reputable local resources. If the media thinks of your company as an expert source, you could get some free publicity. If your business relies on seasonality, create a press release of helpful hints and distribute it right before the season.
- Find a local non-profit and team up on an event or fundraising campaign. Offer to donate a portion of your monthly sales to the organization, and ask them to use their resources (email lists, social media, events) to help spread the word about your contribution. Be sure to get a photo of you delivering the check, and post that photo to social media networks. Volunteer your time at events to demonstrate your physical support. You never know who you’ll meet. Plus, you’ll be seen as a valued member of the community who gets involved and gives your time, more so than someone who will simply write a check.
The value of local internet marketing is enhanced when you include other channels in your marketing mix. A well-rounded marketing strategy is best for reaching your target audience and for people to talk about you. Remember that there will always be buzz about the latest online marketing tactics, but the basics still matter.