Think Locally to Market Your Online Business

Just because you operate an online business doesn’t mean you can’t take full advantage of local marketing strategies. An online business may be located in the virtual world but business is very much done person-to-person.

Bringing your online business to a local, physical level allows you to radiate your branding from a core location. Each additional mile you add to the circle surrounding your central location exponentially increases the amount of individuals you are capable of reaching. Conducting local marketing efforts within your town/city could provide just as high of a profit gain as your efforts in online marketing.

The following brings it back home – these are five various ideas on how you can hop offline, get into your community, and market the hell out of your brand on a physical plane.

Idea #1: Trade Shows

Trade shows are up there when you’re talking about investing in local marketing but if you want to get into the face of industry professionals and potential clients than look nowhere else because these events are brimming with opportunity.

Trade show listings can be found in just about any local business directory, convention center website, or chamber of commerce. Entry costs will depend on the popularity and industry but once you’re in you can begin hitting the rounds and promoting your business.

A special note to mention is that you want to appear professional if you plan to setup shop. Consider custom trade show displays which will allow you to stand out from many basic setups that you’ll find littered around the trade show floor. Taking this additional investment will draw the attention of those moseying about and glue them to your brand when you present your pitch.

Other investments may include:

  • Trade show “swag” like branded pens, tote bags, stickers, and gadgets
  • Booth personnel to draw people in and get them hyped
  • A budget to treat people to dinner when the show is over
  • Business cards – lots of them – to hand out

In all, if you want to meet professionals and qualified buyers than keep trade shows on your list when you want to bring that online business down to a local level.

Idea #2: Meet Ups

People want to be around other people.

Meet ups allow individuals to find and connect with others that share similar interests, ideas, hobbies, and more. People attending can use meet ups to meet new friends, learn a skill, discuss a topic, or simply pass the time with friendly entertainment.

These meet ups are happening all the time which is why it’s worthy of mention for local marketing.

Take a look in your local newspaper, social media circles, or community websites and begin finding local get-together’s that appear to be applicable to your business such as a meeting to discuss your industry, entrepreneurship, or any other business-related topic.

Go off and attend these meetings – casually.

The point of a meet up isn’t to hammer the individuals with your marketing message but, instead, to build a professional network. Show up and deliver great information and conversations and you’ll plant the seed into their mind which will eventually having them come to you whenever they’re in need or just wanted to chat.

Meet ups are often free (minus the cost of paying for food or drinks when you’re out) and it gives you something to do that not only fills your night with good fun but also has the chance to benefit your business.

Idea #3: Fundraisers

BusinessInsider.com’s post entitled The Value of Fundraising may have a focus on venture capital but the ideas and commentary can find its place in any business seeking to leverage fundraising as a means to market their business.

A few ideas worth noting include:

  • Fundraising forces you to define and defend your brand
  • The ability to hone your strategy and pitch
  • Reveal your misconceptions
  • Provide marketing intelligence
  • Acknowledging that you have the right team

The reason these ideas apply to business stems from the fact that you’re being held accountable on many different levels depending on who chooses to donate or invest. The opinion of an individual that hands over $10 can have just as much power as those shelling $100,000.

Regardless of its success or failure – a fundraiser will raise awareness of your brand within the community and it may provide you with enough exposure to garnish additional leads.

Idea #4: Buzz Agents

Buzz agents work between the lines; they are, in some way, in the gray area of marketing.

Buzz agents are individuals you hire to promote your product but in a subliminal manner. The agents are often handed a product and proceed to populate popular locations to which they casually blend into the crowd all-the-while touting the amazing features of a product and how they feel.

For example:
If your company creates a new piece of clothing you could hire buzz agents to infiltrate popular spots and essentially turn them into walking billboards. You can allow them to go deeper into their efforts by having them interact with others and casually mention the brand and have them share opinions (which are actually your sales pitch in disguise). Individuals engaged with these buzz agents won’t know they are talking to a sales representative and, in some way, may not even notice the item but … it’ll stick.

This form of marketing may sound sneaky or deceitful but it’s happening all around us – right in front of our eyes and we never take notice.

Find a few vocal members of your brand, give them the products and resources they need to promote the brand, and send them to the streets.

Idea #5: Sponsorship

Sponsorship is about as old school as you can get.

  • Events
  • Sports
  • Seminars

If you’ve been to a public event than you have, at one point or another, been introduced to a sponsor; these businesses allow individuals and groups to pursue their ideas and activities.

But … it doesn’t stop there.

You can add layers of creativity to your local sponsorship through various methods, including:

  • Car wraps
  • Contests
  • Trades

You may have even read about college students finding company sponsors to help pay for their tuition.

Sponsorship allows you to get your brand in front of many individuals attending these type of events and public outings; there is an added benefit, too, because you’re re-investing in the community which can leave a lasting impact and bring people to your brand.

This is a guest post

About Shawn Hartley

Creative technologist by day. Bowling instructor at night. VP at Corporate 3 Design in Omaha. Proud father and husband.