This is a guest blog from Divya H. Pahwa – Director of Community at Now In Store.
Before I write any marketing article, I start with a word of caution: you must know your market. You must understand their pains and desires very deeply. Only after you understand them will you be able to design a marketing strategy that meets their needs and as a result brings in sales. The best way to do this is to talk to your customers and keep collecting data, which takes time. Put the investment to learn about them first.
If you’re good on that front let’s jump in to three offline marketing strategies and how you can use them for online sales success!
(1) Direct Mail
As the name obviously states, direct mail consists of “mailers” that are sent directly to the household. Grocery flyers, Ikea catalogs, and postcards from your local gym are all considered “Direct Mail”.
Luckily, since you have an online shop and have previously mailed out your products you have a mailing list ready to go. That is, start by mailing to your past customers. Mailing out to a specific list is called “Targeted Direct Mail” and is infinitely better than the alternative (no targeting).
Depending on your budget you can design and send postcards, or flyers. Or take it a step further, with catalogs, or design a beautiful newsletter that contains interesting information along with some promotional pieces. Send your regular customers thank-you cards. If you’re in a really specific industry (for example if you sell a niche variety of motorcycle tires) you can work on an industry publication. Customers purchasing in niche fields often research and invest themselves in those products, they would love getting expert information. Example: eCommerce companies like Bonobos use direct-mail catalogs to grow their sales. Those customer spend 1.5X more than the average non-direct mail catalog company.
(2) Print or T.V. advertising
Ever watch Mad Men? A bulk of their energy was put towards print advertising: spreads in newspapers, one-pagers in magazines, and copy for catalogs. Well this industry hasn’t died off – you can purchase ad space in newspapers, magazines, and other publications.
Cable T.V. is also a great way to explore offline marketing. If you have a larger budget you can get ad space on local T.V.
Your best bet to getting a good ROI on print advertising is be very specific. Do you sell colourful yoga pants – well guess what? Paying for ad space in a groovy yoga journal or a lifestyle T.V. channel will be 20X more effective than purchasing ad space in your local newspaper.
Example: Adore Me, an small eCommerce lingerie company is incredibly gutsy with their marketing. They recently purchased Ad Space on the national US channel T.L.C. although the effectiveness of these ads hasn’t been released we’ve seen more and different Adore Me T.V. ads being added. As such we assume the return was a good one.
(3) Relationship building
Classic relationship building may be less effective for directly growing your sales, however immensely effective for long term sales growth. The people you meet at networking events, industry luncheons, and conferences will be able to help you tap into their networks. You’ll probably land your first national wholesale client via an introduction as opposed to a cold pitch. As such, don’t write these events off – go to them, understand however, that this process is s-l-o-w. Networking relationships need to be nurtured and you must be willing and open to helping out the people you meet too.
Offline marketing will open plenty of doors for you, it’s an untapped channel that most online shop owners fail to consider.
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About the author: Divya H. Pahwa is the Director of Community at Now In Store, where she builds marketing game plans and authors content to help small businesses grow. She worked and created marketing strategies for Charlie Hoehn, Ooomf and has been featured on Life Hacker, Thought Catalog, and FastCompany. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org