20 Innovative (and Not-So-Innovative) Ways to Market Yourself Offline

20 Innovative (and Not-So-Innovative) Ways to Market Yourself Offline

Offline Marketing 101

Why Offline?

Yes, we live in an internet age … but here’s the thing: people still LOVE face-to-face and hands-on! When I started Electric Empire, I thought it would only be online. I quickly found out that even though my sessions were online, my best bet for getting my first customers was actually offline!

Sometimes getting off your lazy internet ass will get you farther than you can even imagine! And one thing to note: some of this week’s training will focus on what I like to call “Local Online” marketing tools. These are outlets that – while technically “online” – actually have a lot to do with your city and location.

 20 Innovative (and not so innovative) ways to market yourself offline:

20 Offline:Local Marketing Methods

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  • Set up a YELP account! This will help with SEO, and it will tie you to a local community of people who many need what you offer. You can also run promos through YELP if you want.  Whatever you do, don’t get sucked into paying out the nose for any of their advertising! It costs way too much, and I have yet to hear anyone report good results. Most yelpers value community and aren’t down with you paying your way to the top.
  • Use Craigslist to promote yourself. Did you know I sold my first business via a savvy Craigslist posting? I put it in the “jobs” category for spas and said “why work for someone else when you can start your own biz?”  Then I listed out my turn-key business and sold it in a bidding competition within 2-3 weeks. Place your programs, services, and local meet-ups in here!
  • Host a local event surrounding your topic. Get sponsors to provide the space and food, and you can do whatever it is you do best for free or for a low cost. Use this as an opportunity to get emails, meet people face to face, and talk about what you do. You will stay close to their minds and hearts.
  • Get business cards, postcards, and posters made. Even if you are an online biz, there are local people who probably want what you are selling. Get some lovely stuff professionally printed, and you can even hire others to distribute it to local cafes, stores, and studios. I got many of my clients this way, and I can’t believe how many people ignore this!
  • Go to networking events. I know, I don’t like them much either! But I have had success with attending and meeting about 2-3 great people each event who become clients (or at least good buddies). Just go into it with an open mind, and don’t give out your card unless someone asks you for it (or they seem super, SUPER interested). I like to ask people if they want a card. If you guys really hit it off, set up a coffee date on the spot, and see how well you connect and how you may be able to support each other.
  • Go to “meet-up” events. These events may or may not have anything to do with business, but it’s a chance for you to meet new people and get yourself out there talking about what you do (in an authentic way!!).
  • Speak or Table at a Conference.  If you live in a city that is big enough to host conferences or events, see if you can table or speak at one! It’s a great way to practice talking about what you do and connecting with people you might have NEVER met outside of these shindigs.
  • Business Collaboration. Make nice with a few killer local businesses that happen to service people who you think might be into what you do. If you are a language coach, partner with a restaurant, and ask if you can host a free language training night. The restaurant promotes it, they get more biz, and you get more eyes on you (and probably a few new clients too!). Set up your massage table outside of a natural foods store, do free brow waxing at a ladies boutique on a Saturday … you get my drift!! Get creative and get new clients!
  • Free Drawings. I once had a client who put email drawing boxes up at local stores for a free personal training session with her, and she got a lot of emails, and a ton of people had their eyes on her biz as they paid for their goods. This is old school, but she got good traction from it.
  • Be a sponsor. If your biz is doing well, but you want more eyes on it, be a contributing sponsor at a local event where you get to pimp out your goods and messages to the masses by supporting them financially in some way.
  • Give. I used to offer a gift certificate for a facial to any non-profit that was running a raffle night. Sadly, people rarely used their certificates … but it was a tax write-off for me, and I was listed as a “donor” in their promotional material. Plus it is in total alignment with my beliefs and made me feel like my biz was doing something great (which it was!).
  • Give (again). Run a big campaign where you sell something (service, program, or e-course) and set it up so that 50% of the proceeds go to a selected charity. Again, it’s a way to feel good, support a cause, and shamelessly promote your awesomeness.
  • Use your job. I must say that back when I had a job AND my skincare business, many of my co-workers became my clients. They would come get facials and buy products from me. They would also refer others to me. It wasn’t a conflict with my job at the time, so all was well.
  • Reach out to friends and family. I know that marketing yourself to friends and family can be lame, but rather than viewing them as your potential clients, view them as a potential connection. Reach out, let them know what you are up to, and ask them if they can refer anyone your way. You might be surprised what comes out of it!
  • Wear your brand. If you have a logo, pop it into Vistaprint and get a bag, t-shirt and mug made. Maybe even get a decal for your laptop. I have a non-biz decal on my laptop, and I get a lot of attention for it … might be time to update it to include my killer logo! I use pens all the time with branding on them, and honestly it IS a constant reminder of the company.
  • Get to know your barista. Ok, these chatterboxes are not only amazing for always remembering your order, they are also “natural connectors”. If you like them and they like you, they may want to naturally help you with your biz. Think about giving them a “finders fee” for sending people your way.
  • Thank your clients. Find a nice way to thank the clients who have worked with you, and make sure to always, always go out of your way to let them know you appreciate any referrals they have sent your way. My bookkeeper sent me a starbucks card with $5. It’s a small token of her appreciation, and I appreciate it! I’m a natural connector, and I’m shocked at how few businesses actually thank me for the referrals (some even question why they aren’t included on my resource list….”um, maybe because you are ungrateful!”). But I digress…
  • Reach out to complimentary businesses in your area. When I worked in skincare, I would team up with photographers and makeup artists to set up cross-referrals and “in-network” discounts so that people had motivation to stick with our crew. You can do this offline and online m’dears!
  • Pay for advertising. I confess: I’ve barely done this myself, but if there is a local newspaper, zine, etc. that targets your peeps, reach out and look into writing and advertising opportunities! If you go this route, make sure that you have an impactful image with some type of buyer incentive on it to get people to come your way.
  • Put a decal on your car. I personally won’t put my biz decal on my car because I’m sometimes an asshole driver, but if you are on your best behavior (or need some incentive to be), then get a professional decal printed out, and slap it on your car. It’s close to free, and bored drivers won’t be able to help but pay some mind to you.

If you’re ready to get some support, strategy, and accountability to take you and your biz to the NEXT level, click here to see how I’m currently working with clients.


26 Responses to 20 Innovative (and Not-So-Innovative) Ways to Market Yourself Offline

  1. Great list! Another great local person to enlist? Your hair stylist. Think about how many butts sit in her chair! Mine lined me up with my first potential client.

  2. Amazing list, Anna!!! I’ve recently been accepted to speak at a local event! Super excited about it because it’s pretty big in our city. I’ve also spoken at our local library. I’m finding that when I do this, I not only connect with new people, I’m also honing my content! I’m finding that putting myself out there more really helps! Thanks!

  3. I was so thinking about this for the past few weeks (b-school makes you think about all aspects of your business). I am new to my area so its like restarting all over again.

    Thanks for sharing Anna. I love this! 🙂

  4. Asshole drivers unite! *fist bump*
    I love these ideas, and it reminds me that I can be doing so much more to bring in the bacon. Also, add #21 to the list: create an awesome poster so your readers will share and get you more attention 🙂

  5. What a great list, Anna! Love it! I have tried talking to other businesses before and partnering with them but they seem very resistant without already having a leg in. Do you have any tips for approaching them?

  6. Darn tootin’! It’s so hard for online entrepreneurs to realize that not everything happens behind the veil. I admit it’s hard for me as well. Even with social media, I often tell everyone to get the hell off and go explore the ‘real’ world.

  7. Another amazing post from Anna! I love this woman. I’m shocked that you could ever be an asshole driver!! But I totally LOL’d at that. Thank you so much for these incredible ideas! <3

    • Haha, thank you Jamie, glad you like it! Ever since I got stuck in a traffic jam in chicago with a total psycho in the car behind me screaming and throwing trash at my car, I have become less of an aggressive driver!

  8. Woohoo, best.list.ever!

    I recently attended a networking event that left me tired, cold and honestly a bit defeated. And even though I mingle for a living (for the non-profit I work for), when I went as my Whole Self and Business, wow it was hard. BUT your list reminded me of 3 things:
    1) try again
    2) create it yourself
    3) there’s always more than ONE or even two ways.

    awesome and thank you!

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