Online and offline marketing synthesis spells success for small businesses

There seems to be a great controversy at the moment over whether online or offline marketing strategies are most effective for small businesses. One side claim that as the way we consume media has so radically changed, traditional marketing strategies such as print adverts and TV commercials are becoming more and more redundant. However, the other side of the argument suggests that while everyone one is on the Internet all of the time, it doesn’t mean that they are actually seeing or responding in an expected way to marketing material displayed there. However, there is a third way of seeing the situation, and that is to combine both on and offline marketing for maximum effectiveness. Read on to find out more.

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Combining offline and online marketing

It can be difficult as a marketing professional to know where to invest your resources to get the best return for your money. Do you spend it on PPC, matched adverts, or social media campaigns, or is it best off being invested in promotional mailings, products, and flyers?

Well, instead of picking one or the other why not choose to run an integrated marketing campaign, one that uses the best of both worlds to maximum effect? After all, the offline and online worlds are not mutually exclusive, and there are many ways that you can cross the two over to get your brand out there.

Remember too that customers, as a rule, don’t buy on the reaction to one single advert or impression. Instead, it’s the power of repeated messages at different times and across different platforms that help to funnel them into your customer base. Luckily combining on and offline works brilliant as a part of this, as you will see in the section below.

QR codes

QR or quick response codes are a development on the Barcode. They are black and white squares that when read by a QR reader, something that most smartphones have can be used to take the customer to a site instantaneously.

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The thing about QR codes is that they can be printed cheaply and easily on anything from posters to packaging. You can even use sites like this to generate them for free. Then for the price of some toner, ink, and paper print them on your own flyers. Something that makes them a cheap way of integrating off and online marketing for your small business.

In fact, QR codes work particularly well as combination form of marketing. Partially because traditional offline media is usually limited by time, such as in commercial or space such as in print adverts. However, with a QR code, you can use the more extensive hosting space of the Internet to take your customers to content that is as complex and lengthy as you would like.

Also, using QR codes in marketing plays on people’s need for instant answers, thanks, Google and Wikipedia, and can if used in the right way encourage interaction with a brand by offering more tantalising information, special offers, or bonus content. Something else that makes them one of the best ways to integrate online and offline marketing for your small business.

Word of mouth

Now word of mouth is always something that is going to be important for your business whether it’s on or offline. Online word of mouth is most often found in terms of reviews. For the best credibility here use independent and verified sites, as some potential customers may worry about the possibility of paid or false reviews.

Of course, offline reviews are often seen as more authentic, as why would someone tell you to your face that a product is good if it isn’t? Also usually these recommendations are made by people that are close to us and that we trust giving them greater credibility.

This means that the issue here is that once you have good authentic online reviews, you also need to find a way to get the word out offline as well. Of course, this is easier said than does, as what will convince people to approach others and tell them about your product, and make this a priority?

Word of mouth recommendations in the real world are particularly valuable.

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You may think it’s all about outstanding customer service and a fantastic product, and while this is vital, it’s not the whole picture. You also have to smart about the way you treat previous customers and encourage them to spread the word. One way of doing this is to foster a base of superfans. Something that can be done on and offline.

A superfan is a customer that loves your brand so much that they become an unofficial advocate for it spreading the world through the land.

To have such superfans in your corner you will need to use marketing tactic such as exclusive offers, access to information that no one else gets and real-life meetups. For example, the UK shoe brand Irregular Choice fan’s meet in hotels one a month to compare shoe collections.

To do this, you can try combining a superfan newsletter, or Facebook group with a behind the scene tours now and again. This then helps to make such fans feel special and to retain their loyalty, and once someone is so invested in something, there will be no doubt they will be spreading the work online as well as in real life about the subject of their passion. Something that creates fantastic, genuine and positive word of mouth marketing for your business.

Hashtags

Hashtags are in their very essence key topics. They could be concerned with everything from #feminism to #followme to #politics. Any topic can be given a hashtag, and by doing to it allows it to become searchable, so gaining more credibility as an area, and allowing people on social media to find information on it quickly and easily.

Now, this is something that can be massively useful for marketing because it can help establish your brand and build up your following, especially if you can think of a humorous, odd, or sassy hashtag that sums up what your company is all about.

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Then in a similar way to QR codes, hashtags can be printed on paper items, promotional products, included on packing and even television adverts. They then invite your audience to interact with your brand and bring them into your sphere of influence by using a combination of virtual and real-life marketing elements. Demonstrating the value of a synthesis of online and offline approaches to marketing for small business success.

*This is a contributed post

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