Creative Offline Website Marketing Techniques
Although the vast majority of website traffic is the direct result of search engines, there are many offline marketing techniques that can be used to draw customers to your website. The examples listed below are but a few ways in which you can market your online presence to an offline audience in an inexpensive manner. Some of the examples listed below even can be implemented at no extra cost!
Some of these ideas are fairly common, but some are rather unique and I personally have only ever seen them employed once, twice, or at most 3 times.
But why would I want to do this? I already deal with these people offline.
Most businesses are not open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. Most websites, however, are available on a 24/7/365 basis.
Many people, especially those with busy lifestyles, tend to use the Internet during non-business hours. To give a few examples: business owners will often check their emails and visit suppliers' websites later in the evening; and consumers looking to make a high-value purchase, such as a car or house, will often research their purchases online in advance well into the wee hours of the night.
Some of these techniques will also generate new clients as well; the possibility exists that you will attract a client whom you have had no prior dealings with.
If you employ some of the offline marketing techniques listed below, it could very well be your site and company that they deal with first!
Use your company vehicle as a "billboard". Automotive decals are a relatively inexpensive way to advertise your company's services. Depending on what you want, decals can cost anywhere from approx. $20-$200 CDN, and will last until you choose to remove them from your car or truck. The best part is that every time you want to reach a new target market for your advertisement, all you have to do is drive!
Note: there are more expensive decals available, but these are usually combinations of text and artwork. The text portions of the decals tend to be minimal in cost, as they are the simpler elements.
Ask potential offline advertising suppliers for an "ad study". Some advertising suppliers have a method whereby they will offer the advertiser a sample advertisement or placement as a form of an "effectiveness" study. In exchange, the advertiser agrees to reveal the full results of his/her marketing campaign to the supplier. This isn't something that very many companies do, but the few that do are generally suppliers worth dealing with.
Incorporate your website into face-to-face conversations and telephone calls. Your customer may be looking for a specific product or service which may be outlined on your website. Guide your customer to that page and let them read the information over, being prepared to answer and ask any questions that may arise from said information.
Press releases. If you have a new product or service, create a "media" section for your website that outlines its details and promote the hyperlink via press release to various mass media.
PR Web is an great resource for mass-broadcasting a press release to thousands of newspaper, magazine, radio, TV, and similar media managers---and it's free!
Promotional clothing. If your business has "uniforms" or "staff shirts", then including your website hyperlink on these items is a great way to promote your business at no extra charge.
Microsoft takes this concept one step further; every time a user successfully completes their OEM System Builder exam, they ship the user a free Microsoft t-shirt via UPS with nothing except for the Microsoft OEM website URL on the back.
Another creative use of this concept is provided by ADAM Web Design client Regional Shows, who used their online logo on the jersey of a kids' baseball team as a form of sponsorship.
Outdoor signage/signboards. Catch the attention of people who are driving by your place of business with your website URL along with your company name, phone, fax, and common email (if any). They may be driving by and not have time to stop in and visit your business, but they may visit your website when they have the time to do so to gather more information.
Note: be sure to check with your local municipality to ensure that outdoor signage is in compliance with its by-laws. Some cities and towns do not allow exterior property signage.
A Tattoo. A tattoo? As strange as this may seem, this is something that can be very effective. Body modifications have the unique property of being able to attract the human eye to them, and a website URL tends to stick in one's mind as being a rather unique idea for a tattoo. A friend of mine, when she ran a small personal site, used to promote it in exactly this manner.
These ideas should give you a starting point for future offline advertising creativity, as well as give you some ways to see a return on your website investment with very little time, effort or money. Good luck!
Adam Senour is the owner of ADAM Web Design, a leading web design and development company in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.