Offline Promotion Guide
By David Callan
Banner ads, search engines and link exchanges. We've all tried
them while promoting our sites and online businesses, some have
worked more successfully than others mind you but just because
you run an online business doesn't mean you've to always promote
it online. In fact on many occasions a websites marketing budget
can be spent just as effectively using offline methods as it can
be using online methods such as the ones mentioned above. Indeed
website branding seems to be much more successful using offline
methods such as TV and Radio. This article is your guide to
promoting your website offline, I hope you enjoy it.
Your URL is very important
The basis behind any offline promotion campaign for your website
is of course to get your website visited more often and if your
sales letter is good enough to get more sales from these extra
visitors. This can only be done by getting the address of your
site 'out there' and visible to lots and lots of people. It's
for this reason that your URL is very important, it's your
lifeline in the offline world, the amount of exposure it
receives will make or break your offline campaign. It should
appear on any material you send to customers or clients, others
businesses you deal with and most importantly potential
More on where you can put your URL offline a little later, but
for now here's a little paragraph or two regarding things which
you can do online to help your offline marketing efforts. First
off your website should always have a banner (a standard 468 x
60 or larger banner works best) at the top of every page with
your website address clearly visible on it.
The reasoning behind this it that many people prefer to print
out larger webpages with articles, stories, tutorials and the
like to read later and then keep for reference rather than read
them online as they're surfing. Without your URL on your banner
people may re-read your content but never revisit your site due
to them simply forgetting your website address and you may have
lost a customer.
It's also a good idea to make available online any recent press
releases you may have issued. This is due to the fact that many
journalists and editors surf the web, if they like your company
and product they might be inclined to let their readers know
why. A press release will provide them with the latest
information regarding your company helping them to do this.
Now we'll go through where you can promote your site offline.
Put your URL on all day to day business items
In the day to day running of your business you'll use many
document type items. By these I refer to invoices you send,
faxes you send, checks you send, product packaging, business
cards etc. Your URL, email address and an attractive website
slogan which makes people want to visit should all be present on
each of these items either in the form of a banner used with
faxes, invoices or other letterhead paper items or simple text
which is generally used for business cards and checks. You could
even include your URL and if space permits your website slogan
on all the simple letter envelopes you send out.
Next we'll talk about the big one - TV. This may well appear to
be financially out of reach of all but the biggest websites with
very large advertising budgets, but no this is not true. OK
admittedly you probably don't and never will have the financial
capability to run ads on mainstream Cable such as Fox in America
or Sky in Britain and Ireland, not to worry though as such
advertising is usually targeted very generally and is useful
only to sites with broad appeal such as Amazon.com or Yahoo.com.
Local cable television advertising is much more feasible and
effective for the more 'ordinary website'. This type of
advertising appears to be very reasonably priced at the moment
and is particularly effective if your product or services is
oriented toward a specific geographic target market, for example
imagine if you were a Detroit web design company, simply
advertise your company and URL on a local Detroit channel.
Contact a Sales representative from your local cable company to
find out more. You should of course mention your URL on numerous
occasions within your ad spot.
Radio advertising can be very effective in advertising your URL
if your domain name is short, catchy and easy to remember.
Creative webmasters could develop short scripts themselves
whereby their ad incorporates their slogan which in turn
incorporates the benefits of visiting their URL. As with TV
advertising radio ads work best when targeted towards a specific
demographically segmented market such as a certain cities
residents. Again price wise you mightn't be able to compete with
the big boys and have ads on very popular stations, but local
stations offer good prices. Keep in mind however that prices all
depend on when and how often your ad is run.
Newspapers, classifieds and related magazines
The print media which includes newspapers, journals and
magazines is another avenue where your can have your URL exposed
for everyone to see. It's best first to start advertising your
products, services and URL in local newspapers and then if
successful continue onto regional and national publications. If
you can't afford the common graphical advertisement as seen
throughout newspapers and journals related to your industry
don't worry as most of these publications have classified ad
sections. Classified ads allow you to reach a targeted audience
very cheaply with a simple short message and of course your URL
is included in there somewhere too.
We all see vehicles with company names and telephone numbers on
them driving our streets and motorways. This is a great idea as
it gives potential customers the chance while out and about to
learn about the company and also learn about how to contact them
should they need the service or product they offer at some stage
in the future. I often wonder why more websites aren't promoted
in this way by simply adding the company website URL also, you
definitely should do this.
If your business is an exclusively online entity then your URL
should be large and very visible to anyone who glances in the
direction of your vehicle. Again many people would be driving or
walking by as your vehicle drives by and wouldn't be able to
write down a long website address so it would be an advantage to
have a short, easy to remember URL.
A word of advice before we move on, if you do choose to brand
your personal or company vehicles with your URL have it done
professionally, if your design looks poor people might be
inclined to believe your site and products are poor too. Check a
local business directory to find out who can do this for you.
This method is a personal favorite of mine. It involves
purchasing and distributing items such as pencils, pens,
t-shirts, mugs, mouse pads, calendars, keychains, bumper
stickers, refrigerator magnets and the like. All these items
will have your URL located somewhere on them helping to attract
people to your website.
Usually these items are given away for free, however some sites
such as Google successfully sell a number of items specifically
designed to improve the Google brand.
If you decide to use such items in your offline marketing
campaigns be smart about it, offer items which will be used by
the people most likely to buy your products or services, for
example if you sell software or computer components distribute
branded mouse pads as computer users are likely to be interested
in what you offer. Similarly if you sell office stationary you
could distribute pens to local businesses, hopefully when they
need more stationary they'll notice your slogan and URL then
come visit and buy.
There are lots of angles one can take with this method, most can
be very effective but just have a good think about it before you
order those 3000 pens, won't you!
Press releases were touched upon earlier on in this article but
now for more in depth coverage of using them for offline
promotion. Press releases or news releases as they're sometimes
known are newsworthy stories about your business that you send
to various sections of the media. These sections of the media
must be related to your industry for you to have any chance of
success. Newsworthy stories are stories which readers of the
media publications you submit to might be interested in.
If the journalist reads it and likes it he or she may publish it
or some of its contents in his or her publication, if this
happens you're on to a winner because the public in general are
much more responsive to a news story than a plain old hyped up
advertisement. This could mean they'll enquire about or even
purchase your products or services.
Using press releases for promotion of your website uses the same
principals, if it's newsworthy release it. Newsworthy events for
websites include website launches, website re launches and new
online services among other items.
It'll be up to you to decide what might be of value to a
journalist and hence his or her readers, however there are
hundreds of businesses that can organize what's of value into a
professional press release and can then submit it for you. I
would recommend the path of using these businesses due to the
fact that if you submit a poorly written press release the
journalist who receives it will (a) not publish it or any part
of it and (b) not even look at your releases in the future so do
it right the first time and hire somebody. Googles a good place
to start looking.
Other ideas include having flyers and posters printed
specifically to promote your URL. Flyers could be handed out
locally and posters could be placed at strategic locations such
as supermarkets, malls, social clubs and business centers, well
you get the idea. Don't forget about direct snail mailing to
qualified prospects, bus and building billboards, bus shelters
and cinema screen advertising (yes you can run ads before those
big movies come on!)
Word of mouth
Last but by no means least is good old word of mouth promotion.
This is the most effective method of promotion as a referral
from a friend or work colleague creates a highly qualified
prospect who is much more likely to buy from you than anyone who
wasn't referred to you.
Think about it, would you be more likely to buy your new shiny
golf clubs from a company that you first became aware of in the
classified section of the 'Timbuktu Express' or the company your
best friend told you about, the company he bought the set he
loves and uses all the time from?
You must have a good product and website for word of mouth to
work, why would people want to spread the URL of a bad website
amongst their friends, family and co-workers? Well simply put,
You however for a start should tell any people you deal with
about your website and ask them to tell others, remember they
won't want to do this unless they like your setup so make sure
your products, website and customer service are top-notch.
Sorry about mentioning this for what now must be the third time,
but I feel it's necessary. Word of mouth promotion will be
helped dramatically if your domain name is short and easy to
remember. If however it's not, don't fret, I would suggest you
simply buy a secondary domain name which is easy to remember and
simply redirect to your main site. Last time I mention any
domain name stuff I promise :-)
Above we've dealt with different aspects of offline promotion
for your website, you may have used some or all of them before,
then again you may not have ever participated in an offline
marketing campaign before. If you're one of the latter read my
closing statement very carefully.
Even if your business only exits in the virtual world you must
realize ALL your customers live and always will live in the
physical world and hence can be reached much better from the
physical world. The moral of the story is never ever forget
about the offline promotion of your website. Your success or
failure could depend on it.
Article by David Callan. David is an Internet marketing
professional and webmaster of
AKA Marketing.com webmaster forums. Visit his webmaster
forums for the latest discussions on search engines, website
authoring and Internet marketing related issues and topics.
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