How to integrate online and offline marketing

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Small and medium sized businesses often seem to experience a disconnect between their online and offline marketing, treating them as if they are independent strategies.  This is usually because different people handle each.

In my experience, your marketing will work far better if you look at both online and offline strategies as an integrated unit, and you have the people responsible for each of them collaborate as much as possible.

If you think of your marketing as a staircase, with each tactic being a stair tread or rise, it becomes clear that everything you do has to support or fit in with the ultimate result oriented direction you’ve chosen.  Otherwise you’d end up with multiple stairs scattered everywhere and leading nowhere – even though each tread may be perfectly constructed.

The first thing that’s necessary is to decide on your desired end result.  Then you need to decide on your budget and timeframe.  Throw away your preconceived notions of what marketing should or shouldn’t be and remember this one simple rule:

The object of marketing is to make a persuasive and influencing connection with your target market. It doesn’t matter if you achieve this online, offline or by an integrated strategy.  The types of vehicles you use are determined by their effectiveness and cost-effectiveness as well as ease of implementation.

Here’s an example of how to take existing unintegrated strategies and rationalize them to both save money and increase effectiveness:

  • do an inventory of all your marketing strategies including all print and internet promotions, public relations activities and even corporate stationery.
  • ensure that your web site is frequently updated and contains text, relevant labeled pictures (so that the search engines can also list these) as well as video .  Video can be very basic and preferably be ‘how to’ oriented.
  • make sure that all web updates automatically stream to your social media sites such as facebook, squidoo, twitter etc
  • ensure all corporate literature, business cards and advertising features the web site.
  • make sure that the web site offers an opt-in facility so that people can sign up to receive information and you can build an interested mailing list
  • use your print advertising as a teaser to drive traffic to your site.  This allows you to run smaller, more frequent ads and feature more selling information on the site
  • make use of free classified directories to drive traffic to your site.  These days, many classified ad sites have categories suitable for business as well as personal use.
  • create white papers and how to articles that can be advertised online and off line in free classified sites driving traffic to the site for the purpose of downloading the information and building your opt-in list
  • at every event whether it’s hosted by you or attended by you, distribute flyers or coupons taht make offers that will drive traffic to call or go to the site

These are just some of the ways you can integrate your marketing strategies.  The key is to decide on the promotions for an upcoming time period, either a year or at least 6 months, then map out how each of these promotions can build on one another and then use as many online and offline strategies as possible to get them in front of your market

Always ensure that full sales information is on your site if you’re actually selling from the site, or, if you want them to buy from your bricks and mortar location, make sure that the sales information drives them to visit or call to complete the sale.

By using this method, you’ll find that your tactics automatically become more focused and you will waste far less on promotional strategies that may not be returning anything on your investment.

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