You might think that because we’re a digital marketing company, we’re only advocates for online marketing tactics and efforts. Not so! We actually consider everything from the way you answer your phones to the people you hire part of your marketing. Call us weird, but if it tells your story or affects how your customers see you, we say that’s marketing.
That’s why we’ll be the first to tell you that one of the best things you can do for your business is actively put forth effort both online and offline. Many times, offline efforts end up showing up online, and since the two really go hand in hand, it’s time to start thinking of them as two pieces of the same puzzle.
Before we dive into the 6 things we think you should be doing offline to build business online, we just wanted to say: These are things you can be doing even if you’re not ready to work with us. We love partnering up with local service businesses as they power on towards their dreams, but the reality is, not every business is ready to make that commitment, financially or otherwise. If you fit into that category, it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to build and grow in the meantime.
Alright, let’s get right into what you can and should be doing:
#1 Sponsor local events, activities, and sports teams.
Have you considered sponsoring local sports teams and events, like little league teams, football teams, soccer teams, golf tournaments, tennis matches, local chamber events, community fairs, or town festivals? Getting your business involved through sponsorship can provide yet another way for those in your community to discover you and the services you provide. In other words, it’s a great way to build brand awareness, earn a reputation, establish trust and authority, and stand out in your community.
Whether it’s a little league team, an annual town parade or festival, or a charity event, sponsorship is a great way to get involved in the communities you serve and let potential customers know who you are and what you’re about. People want to do business with local companies who are invested and established, and community sponsorship is a great way to communicate that you’re that type of company.
An added perk is that, oftentimes, these sponsorships will earn you links or citations online. Think about it: it seems there’s a website or a landing page for just about every event out there. When you’re a part of an event, there’s a good chance your company will be mentioned or linked to on the event’s website or landing page. And who knows — your offline efforts could end up not just building authority and boosting your rankings with potential customers in your community, but also building authority and boosting your rankings with Google.
#2 Invest in B2B relationships.
Networking is a great way to get your business name out there and gain referrals. It’s also beneficial for you as a business owner to connect with other business owners and build relationships with those in your community. So get involved, even if you don’t think of yourself as the networking type. When you build authority and trust with other businesses in your community, they’ll be proud to pass your name along to their customers, because they’ll know you’ll provide excellent service and an excellent customer experience.
Connecting with others and developing referral relationships can lead to more (and more satisfied) customers; a stronger, closer-knit community; and maybe even links to your website from your referral partners’ websites. Let me give you a quick example of a referral relationship here in my community.
I recently locked myself out of my house and since I hadn’t lived here long, I’d yet to make additional keys or hide a key. The only way I was going to get in was to call a locksmith. Being new to the area, I went to Google, and after several calls, I finally got through to someone. The locksmith I reached wasn’t going to be able to get out my way anytime soon, as it was a Friday at rush hour, so he gave me the name and number of a locksmith closer to me. I called the locksmith he referred, he got me in, and I paid him for his time.
Now, I’ve taken all the necessary precautions to avoid ever needing a locksmith in the future, but if I ever do need one, I’ll probably try the first guy again, because he proved to me that he cared more about me and my needs than about closing the sale. He was willing to give up business because it benefitted me. That’s the kind of company I want to work with, and he showed me that through a referral to another company in his network.
#3 Get involved in your local BNI or Chamber of Commerce.
One of the best ways to build those referral relationships is to get involved with your local BNI chapter, Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, Jaycees, Gold Star Referral Club, etc. These local groups allow you to learn more about what’s going on in your community and what other local businesses are in your area, and provide a place for you to mingle and mix with those you may not otherwise spend any time with. If you really want to see the referrals start coming in and learn from other businesses in your community, these are groups you have to get involved with.
Many local groups such as these also mention the businesses associated with them on their websites and provide links. Links and citations = higher rankings. Plus, being a part of local organizations shows your potential customers that you’re invested in your community, which makes them more likely to trust in and invest in you.
#4 Give back.
Getting your company involved with a charity is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Not only is charity work good for your spirit, but it communicates to your employees and customers that you care about more than just what you can gain from those in your community. You’ll meet new people, get involved in meaningful, big-picture work, and you may even discover new ways to raise funds and awareness through your business throughout the year.
Everyone wants to find purpose and meaning in their day job, especially on the tough days when things don’t seem to be going right. Partnering with a charity and using your business to give back can provide that purpose and meaning. And when you’re invested in your community offline, the effects are bound to show up online.
#5 Get your culture, procedures, and customer service right.
No matter how many potential customers your website or Ad spend sends your way, if you have scheduling problems, procedural problems, or customer service problems, you’re going to lose out and fail to convert some of those leads. And the disappointment of your customers is going to find its way online (via reviews), which will have a negative impact on your online presence.
So work on getting your company culture, procedures, systems, and customer service 100%. By getting all of these things established and in peak condition, you’ll be able to confidently serve the customers that find you through your online marketing efforts and you’ll get better ROI from those efforts.
#6 Ask for reviews.
And finally, ask for reviews! At the end of a service, let your customers know how much you value their feedback and how much you rely on referrals and online reviews for business. Whether you want to believe it or not, your satisfied customers aren’t likely to leave you a review if you don’t ask — so ask! Positive reviews (and good, respectful responses to negative reviews) build trust with potential customers and reassure Google you’re the company to show in search results.
So get out there! Perfect your online and offline marketing and you’ll see better results than you would with one or the other.