Back in the mid 1990’s, I read a book by Jay Conrad Levinson called “Guerilla Marketing.” It was and still is a fascinating read. After reading the book I got a client needing help with their internet presence which included stabilizing the web server (it was really flaky) and marketing. I thought fantastic! I could really put Jays’ advice to the test as the company was only about 9 months old and grossing only $20,000 in that first year with 6 employees.
After 6 months the owner was looking to do an IPO (initial public offering – stock market terminology) and 6 months after my contract expired they netted $2 million. A couple of years later they were purchased by another company.
I did this using a combination of traditional advertising and the concepts in the “Guerilla Marketing” book. Since the book was written he has penned many other books to help the aspiring entrepreneur achieve their goals.
Often overlooked by website owners, off-line marketing can provide a big boost to your site’s activity. The object of marketing is to keep your business, product or service in front of the public. There are many ways to market your web site off-line. Some of these are free, some are inexpensive and some require a fair-sized expenditure.
If you are a business, you will need all the basics: letterhead, envelopes, business cards, printed business forms, etc. If you only have a personal page, you might consider “business” cards at the very least.
Business cards are really inexpensive so buy a lot and pass them out. Put them up on community bulletin boards. Visit book stores and insert them into magazines and books relating to the topic of your site (you didn\’t hear that here, OK?) Leave them on bus seats or your table when you go out to eat.
You should also consider flyers, brochures and mailers. You can create and produce these yourself. However, having them professionally done is usually worth the extra expense, but not always. Consult your business plan/road map to see if that is the way you want to go.
Pass these items out or mail them to anyone who shows an interest in what you are doing. In future contacts with these people, give them additional copies to pass along if they don\’t need them anymore.
In your emails make sure you have a link to your site in your signature.
There are many organizations available that you can use to get the word out. You may want to consider your local Chamber of Commerce (CoC) or Merchant Association, professional and trade organizations, guilds and so forth. There is usually a list of these organizations in your phone book or at your local library. These groups are often looking for information that might be of interest to their members. Be aware that they may charge a fee or ask for a donation or sponsorship. You may want to consider joining some of these organizations.
Use these organizations for “networking.” The people you meet may pass your information on to others who may be interested. You better your chances of making “qualified” contacts the more people you meet. Keep a contact file of these people and make notes to refer to later.
Traditional Media and Sponsorships
Never leave out the local media (newspapers, radio, television). They are always looking for items of local interest. Write a press release, find out whom to send it to and get it to them! Some media may be willing to work a deal exchanging advertising.
Sponsoring local events is another way to get media coverage for your business. Look at what is happening in your area. Track down who the main contact is and ask them how to become a sponsor.
Consider becoming a contributing “writer” for a local newspaper, magazine or radio station. If you manage to become a contributor, tell your friends and family and have them help spread the word.
Consider advertising in conjunction with other businesses (split the cost). This is often called co-op advertising.
You can also use direct mail (junk mail; don’t sigh as this is highly effective), coupon mailers and response card packs as well. They typically yield a 1-2% response rate which is just about average for advertising in general.
Friends, Family and Co-Workers
Other sources often overlooked are friends, family and co-workers. Ask them to put some of your business cards in their wallet or purse to pass on to their friends. Ask them to also talk about your website every chance they get (but make sure they don’t try to “hype” your site.)
Basically what you need to do is build your “street cred,” also known as credibility. This actually applies to offline as well as online marketing.
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