Free Offline Marketing Ideas for Your Online Business

You have figured out every possible loophole in your website’s SEO. You’ve squeezed your online business’ PPC marketing down to the last penny. Social media is not fun and games but a ROI driven mission for your business. You have a thriving email program that delivers sales, branding, and customer loyalty that your competitors would kill for. Congratulations on a job well done!

But wait a minute—before you pat yourself on the back for your digital marketing efforts, ask yourself if there’s something missing. Nine times out of ten, the answer will be a grudging, “Yes.” A stunning proportion of online businesses focus all their energies on digital marketing at the cost of offline or traditional marketing. The rationale given is that if you are a digital business, digital marketing ought to be your natural environment.

No one’s debating that position. All I am saying is that your user does not spend every single waking minute online. There are a number of non-digital interactions that each one of us has in our daily lives that hold tremendous potential for marketing and conversions. It just takes a little bit of time and a desire to go beyond the typical to explore the myriad possibilities of offline marketing.

Who knows, besides supplementing your online marketing efforts, these offline strategies may just end up saving you big bucks in your overall marketing spends.

Co-branding With Non-competing Brands

Every brand is engaged in a constant struggle for eyeballs, market share, or customer loyalty. Any help that they receive from an external source is always welcome. It’s even better if the said help comes at zero cost to one’s own brand, instead it leads to added benefits for one’s existing (or new) customers. If that external source happens to be another commercial brand operating in a non-competing industry, it’s all the same.

Task Rabbit – an online outsourced help service – used this philosophy to partner with Gap during the holiday season of 2012 and offered fashion brand Gap’s clients a $25 gift card for purchases of outsourcing services from them in exchange for a minimum shopping of $75. This strategy was a win-win for both brands. Task Rabbit got publicity and trials from a premium customer group, while Gap’s customers got a complimentary ‘helper’ service during the busiest time of the year.

Partner With Industry Associations

A great way to let the authority and star sheen of a large industry organization rub off on your brand is to enter into a meaningful, mutually rewarding relationship with such organizations. The benefit here is, by being associated with the umbrella organization, you are opening doors for tie-ups with the individual member brands and companies as well.

Groundbreaking urban transport app Uber, shows us the way it is done by joining hands with the biggest boys in the business. Last year Uber entered into an agreement with the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) to offer safer rides for NFL players across the country. The deal assures NFL players a one-touch cab booking system, doing away with the need to provide personal details that regular users provide. It also offers $200 as complimentary credit in every players account to be used for future Uber rides.

Make The News With Smart PR

The first rule of public relations is to create word of mouth publicity without spending a penny from one’s own pocket. To get headlining publicity, either you need an out-of-the-world product that gets people talking by itself, or you need to do something outlandish that will get people talking about your brand for days and weeks.

Online gambling site gained millions of dollars’ worth of newsprint and fame with a PR stunt that cost them just $28,000. In 2004, Golden Palace, bought a half-eaten grilled cheese sandwich with the likeness of the Virgin Mary burned into the toast for $28,000. The news of this purchase got picked up and published on news sites and television channels across the world including BBC, CNN, FOXNews, China Daily, and more. That’s a lot of publicity in return for just a sandwich!

Workshops, Conferences, And Events Showcasing Your Products

Every successful business fulfills a need. Be it a technology company, a fashion brand, a retail business or a real estate business; your business better be providing a solution to a real problem, else it runs the risk of being obsolete and irrelevant once the sheen of your marketing tactics wears off.

Assuming your business solves a specific problem, target individuals who use your products and carry out free workshops in the real world on how to use your products, innovative ways it can be used, complementary products that can be used to enhance the utility of your product and so on. From a simple makeup workshop at a local salon to a free software training workshop to college seniors to an annual bake-off to promote your online grocery business; the type of events or workshops you can carry out are limited only by your imagination.

The Apple World Wide Developer’s Conference is one such workshop on a gigantic scale. Apple meets up with over 5000 iOS developers from around the world and teaches them about the new technologies it’s working on, launches new products, shares information about the latest innovative applications of existing technologies and cements the Apple brand into users’ minds for decades to come. The best part? Developers actually pay Apple to be able to participate in its annual conference. Talk about having your cake and eating it too!

Over To You

As an online business, it is second nature to check out the feasibility of each new digital interface and test it out to see its efficacies on our bottom line. And before jumping headfirst into every idea or interaction, you may want to check out this handy legal guide put together by Shopify for online businesses.

Let’s resolve to bring that same enthusiasm for non-online marketing processes too wherever we see a great fit or potential for great rewards. Remember, there are no lines drawn in the sand to keep you out of offline marketing. If it works, don’t hold back. Here’s to successfully breaking the turf barrier with your online business!

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