How Taking My Online Startup to the Streets Really Helped me Get Ahead of the Crowd
When I started my first business venture online – I was stuck in a completely one-dimensional way of thinking. I thought that just because I was running an online business (one I hoped would have global reach), that my local area was irrelevant. Then I realized – not only might I have a huge number of people near me that might be interested in what I had to offer, but they’d be easier to reach and might have been under-exposed to my type of product.
In this article, we’re going to look at how you can get ahead of the crowd by marketing your online business in the local area – just like I did.
Promoting offline could help reach people who haven’t seen your sort of product before
First, let me tell you a little about the business my first online business. It was one of those “earn money doing surveys” type sites that used to be all the rage. You know the sort. Not particularly revolutionary – but I thought I could make some good money promoting these surveys. Eventually – I did. But it didn’t come easily.
The problem was – I wasn’t the first to the market and I wasn’t offering anything particularly groundbreaking. Most people who visited the sorts of sites I used to advertise on had already seen these sorts of offers and knew what to expect (and whether it was for them).
It’s sometimes hard to break through and really captivate people’s imagination when they’ve seen tons of similar offers before. At that time, I was stuck in the mindset of keeping my “online” business separate from the “real world” – and this mindset was undoubtedly holding me back.
Then I started to realise – there’s no reason why I can’t promote this venture to people I know, or even just people in my area.
When I was advertising and promoting my website online, I’d often be frequenting other “earn money online” type sites. Those sites can be a real goldmine of information, but they can also be a circle-jerk.
I started to think back to when I first learnt about doing online surveys for cash. The idea was groundbreaking to me – I could sit at my computer and click a few answers and then I’d get sent a cheque in the post. I couldn’t believe it.
The problem with promoting my venture online (and particularly on the sites I was used to) is that the idea is no longer new and exciting. Most people have heard of it, tried it, and got bored of it – way before they first saw my site.
But there were still people out there who could be amazed about my idea, like I first was when it was new and original to me. Where did I find them? Offline.
Your local knowledge goes a long way
You know your area better than anyone – and that gives you some key advantages. While there is a huge market out there for you on the internet – there’s also a ton of competition. You can use specific local knowledge to make the most of unique marketing opportunities that simply aren’t available online.
I actually started going to local networking events. Not only were they free, they were also a great place to both promote my business and meet other businesspeople with similar interested. I actually ended up working with a few of them.
Another great step I made is starting to visit local business tuition forums in my area. These were a great source of information and helped set me up with important people in my area. Business tuition workshops aren’t just to learn or teach, they’re a two-way process that helps both sides learn something.
This eventually lead to me doing some regular work for a private tuition service to help educate business students – which can be a great source of future staff or new business ideas.
Thinking outside the box can help reach new customers
Another great source of local traffic I started using was leaflets. You might think they’re a primitive form of marketing – but there’s no room for egos in this business. Think about it – some of the people I wanted to reach didn’t use their computers very often but would jump at the chance of earning some quick and easy extra cash. You can’t reach these people online – but if they get an informative leaflet through the door explaining how simple the process is, you could be onto a winner.
To start with, I actually printed some leaflets and physically delivered them door-to-door by myself. You can outsource all of this if you want to – but that costs more. Some of the best local marketing methods can be free if you’ve got the time and effort to do the work yourself.
When the money started trickling in I eventually hired a local delivery service to do it for me. These businesses work on volume and normally deliver a number of different leaflets at a time, so you can get a thousand of yours done for as little as $20. Even if you only make two or three sales in that thousand – it could have been worth it.
Marketing offline could be cost-effective
Many other offline marketing techniques are cheaper than their online alternatives. You can find busy areas with billboard space that might be less expensive than you think. Try and think outside the box and move away from the same overused advertising channels. Some of the people you reach will also have had less exposure to your sort of product.
One thing that happened when the internet got big is that traditional advertising streams were marginalized and took a big hit. Lots of them slashed their prices to stay competitive – and you can take advantage of this.
People are also more inclined to do business with a real entity that’s based near them, which is another benefit of keeping things local.
Of course, eventually you’re going to want to reach out to more than the number of people you can get to locally or with offline advertising – but its a good place to start if you’re struggling to get ahead. Some of these methods worked for me – and they could for you.
About the author
Peter Ellington has enjoyed advising people on business issues for a number of years. He also helps promote the benefit of business education and coaching on a private tuition blog – https://smiletutor.sg/blog.