Offline Marketing Of An Online Business – The Secret Weapon That Most Are Not Using – FREE Tutorial

Image – Pixabay (PD)

“Knowing how to advertise/market is arguably the single most profitable skill in the world among any profession….No matter how cool you think your product is, and how valuable it indeed may be, the reality is MARKETING is what sells it. There are a lot of very gifted authors, singers, dancers, bands, painters in the world not getting nearly what they are really worth because they can’t get their art or their message out there. Distribution is where the power is.” — Rob “The Genie” Toth


Who said you had to work online to get traffic to your web site?

Possibly the biggest (and certainly the most overlooked) form of internet marketing involves… not using the internet!

This might come as a shocker to those who are fairly new to internet marketing – but a good marketing professional makes it their M.O. to seek out and avail themselves of any promotional avenue possible; and to consider all possibilities in the quest for the greatest return on investment (ROI) for their ad spend.

Offline marketing of online products still has enormous potential simply because the billions of internet users are all real people with real lives outside of the computer, and sooner or later they appear in public in one way or another!

In the ‘gold rush’ of internet marketing, internet advertising prices have soared. It is not uncommon for advertisers to pay more than a dollar per click! What’s really interesting is that as a result of the online advertising boom, other more traditional forms of advertising have often remained more-or-less at their original price points; sometimes becoming cheaper as sales of offline inventory have diminished, and smaller budgets are apportioned to offline advertising ventures.

In other words, with some marketing savvy you could do really well advertising your online product offline – and the word being whispered on the street is that internet marketers are sometimes striking gold when they branch out into traditional media promotions.

The good thing about internet marketing is that you can test things rapidly. An online ad can sometimes be evaluated for performance within a few hours. Once you have a tested winning funnel, you can run it in “realspace” – often for a fraction of the cost, sometimes even for zero cost – and still generate income at any time of day or night through online sales. Are you starting to see the potential yet?

A Very Quick Advertising Primer

Ultimately, what really matters is not the channel used to advertise but the Return On Investment (ROI). Whether it is a newspaper ad or a website banner is ultimately irrelevant. An advertiser simply seeks to get the most money back for the amount of money spent on promotion. They seek the “holy grail” of advertising, a positive ROI. This means that the amount of money returned from a marketing venture is greater than the amount spent on it. If you can achieve (and, importantly, measure) this, it can be (as 8 figure entrepreneur Carlos Garcia famously stated) “As if you had a machine that when you put dollar bills in, it spits five dollar bills out.”

Optimization: Achieving positive ROI should be regarded as a challenge and it should be accepted that it will almost certainly not be achieved immediately. What tends to happen is that the marketer will test various versions of the advertising on a smaller scale (for example testing different images, headlines, copy and even products) and record the return of each one, keeping the ones that show promise and optimizing them. Only when positive ROI is achieved is the advertising budget “scaled up” and run with a bigger budget.

List Of Ways To Advertise An Online Business Offline

There are countless ways to advertise an online business offline. Here is a good list to get you thinking:

Printed media:

Newspaper ads (local newspapers can be cost effective)
Leaflets inserted into newspapers
Magazines – industry magazines, general, etc
Handbills / flyers – professionally printed or even hand made
Business cards
Free classified ads
“Yellow pages” style directories
Direct Mail (i.e. postcards and letters, not email)


Telephone (calling)
Text message marketing
Car magnets
Video projections (perhaps including a QR code – seen that one at sports games)
Actual or holographic product displays
Influencers: Fashion models wearing your logo, people waving your sign
Merchandise / freebies – anything from t shirts, baseball caps, coffee mugs, USB sticks, fridge magnets, ballpoint pens, mouse pads, disposable lighters…. you name it… even silver bullion bars bearing a logo have been used!

Venues / ways to reach people

Busy places of all kinds
Trade shows
Special events – concerts, meetings, street fairs, festivals, sporting events
Hand delivery to mailboxes
Word of mouth
“Street teams”
Publicity stunts and “Purple cow” methods. (Amazon affiliate link)

You can do a web search on “list of offline advertising strategies” for even more…

The number of methods of offline marketing is huge – however, it is possible to boil these methods down to essential principles which apply in almost every case. From newspaper advertisements through to handbills, URLs on ballpoint pens through to magnetic decals on car doors – the underlying golden rules are the same. Much of the rest of this tutorial deals with the principles and ideas.

The Funnel

In advertising circles, the “sequence” of advertising and the process that the customer is drawn through, from the initial moment of becoming aware of the advertising, through to the moment of sale, is known as the “funnel”. One very successful marketer I met – a real pro – who had sold an incredible million copies of an obscure and (in my view) unremarkable music album (further evidence that in sales, the product is less important than the marketing!), told me that the funnel can be simplified down to three steps:

I see it.
I want it.
I’ll buy it.

He went on to say that the process of the customer going through those three stages should be as smooth and bump-free as possible. If the sale breaks down, it means you lost them at one of the three steps. You have to be visible, you have to ignite desire, and then when that desire is at maximum temperature, you have to enable purchase to be as simple, rapid and hassle-free as possible. That’s a perfect description of the process that happens in a funnel. Words from a pro!

Court Attention And Be Visible At All Costs

It’s one thing to plaster your URL all over the place and thereby inform people of your existence, however it’s another to be aware that we live in an advertising-saturated world.

Most people’s goal is to ‘tune out’ as much advertising “noise” as they possibly can. Assume that people will NOT go from offline advertising to their computer to type in your URL unless you give them a good reason to. You need to provide a strong and legitimate incentive for people to actually go to your web site.

A URL on a t-shirt? A business card?? Seriously, who gives a ****?

No one. You have to stand out.

Some of the best advertising is highly innovative. Surprising, original or off-the-wall messages and delivery methods compel people to take notice. Think about what advertising methods work on you. The things that you want to tell people about.

One method of being visible is to do something highly atypical. This is what is known as a “purple cow strategy”. The concept of the Purple Cow was invented by Seth Godin, who explained that being remarkable, as opposed to merely being good, is essential to success in the modern world. So, a “purple cow” is anything that is completely non-traditional and jumps out at you. It is the thing that makes people remark instantly “Look at that!” It is the stuff that gets talked about and remembered.

Now you’ve grasped the concept, you will start seeing these strategies in use everywhere and understanding them for what they are. Such advertising methods include air displays that make puffs of smoke forming certain words, gigantic inflatable gorillas on gas station forecourts, elephants painted pink in art exhibitions, giant words that “fell” from billboards to the sidewalk, publicity stunts and so on. Methods of attracting attention include utilizing sheer size, word play, optical illusion, spectacle, shock tactics and the element of surprise.

Win them over. Humor is always a good one. If you can really make people laugh, you have brightened their day – and this endears them to you. I remember certain companies back in the day whose TV ads were always brilliant short comedy sketches. We used to look forward to them and I can still recall them to this day.

If you want further lessons from masters in the art of the publicity stunt, check out the tactics of modern artists – such as Picasso, Salvador Dali, Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Damien Hurst, the KLF. These artists have truly mastered the art of getting attention – and the underlying principles behind their tactics, while sometimes edgy, are fascinating and revelatory. They are deliberately bizarre because being bizarre attracts attention and incites curiosity.

Here are some more good ones: In Your Face: 15 Dramatic Guerrilla Marketing Campaigns

Use QR Codes

This is a technology that connects internet and non-internet worlds to great effect and this is a technology whose day has arrived. You absolutely should be using these for your offline marketing of all kinds. Watch out for our full tutorial on using QR codes effectively.

Utilizing The Freebie To Greatest Effect

You can lose money through poor, untargeted marketing. I see it everywhere and am amazed that companies even bother. From mass dumping of handbills by unenthusiastic street teams, that will only end up being recycled (or worse, blowing down the street!), to lame giveaways of cheaply made consumer objects with a URL and no actual reason to visit the site in question.

Tons of cheap merchandise is manufactured for offline promotions – pens, baseball caps, stickers, badge buttons, fridge magnets… the list is endless. You can see the objective: Visibility. Their intention is to plaster their name everywhere, figuring that some people will take it in.

I believe much of this effort may be wasted, especially nowadays: I have had pens sitting on my desk for years advertising some hotel or other – and have I ever gone there? There’s so much marketing spam embedded in people’s “subconscious minds” that I can hardly imagine that it is effective any more. We are in a world of too much information. As Seth Godin said, people have a million choices and no time. We are exposed to so much advertising that it doesn’t cause a bump on the radar any more. We’ve learned to tune it out.

However, if the advertising points to some good free stuff, that can be obtained at the web site, the picture changes entirely. Promotion of this kind can be seen as a two-stage process. The first stage is to bring someone out of what I call “scan mode”. Scan mode is a person’s normal mode of activity where they observe everything in their environment extremely briefly without really seeing it… until their senses alight upon something that triggers the “I want this” response (or some other strong reaction) from their basic instincts.

An offer of free stuff is one of the best ways to bring people from scan mode into the second stage, which is deeper investigation. And people need to be in this deeper investigation mode before they will type in your URL or scan your QR Code. The word FREE still has great power!

Ideally, the gift should be directly relevant to the intended market, and of the greatest value you can realistically afford to give away (while of course still keeping the aces for your for-sale products.) For the greatest success, endeavour to make your free items of such high value that people will start to do your marketing for you – and tell their friends.

So for example, if I was creating a marketing campaign such as that of the hotel whose ball-point pen is currently sitting on my desk: Instead of merely the address and phone number, I might create something that makes people visit the web site. Something remarkable, as Seth Godin might say. A twenty-dollar room rate discount or free spa access for web site visitors. A competition. A free guide to the top#20 things to do in the city that might be useful to the kind of people that is imminently about to book a hotel room. A 3D virtual fly-through of the world famous lobby. It doesn’t really matter – so long as it is genuine and ignites people’s interest. Target your marketing at your customer demographic, and get them to the web site by giving them something they will like. Then you can do your selling from there.

Of course you will need to balance what you can afford to give away with the increased revenue it will bring – but you will quite likely find that the best balance is much further towards giving things away than most people think! Develop reputation and positive, wide-reaching brand awareness – and profit will follow. When the perspective shifts to seeing you as someone of high value, you are much more likely to make the sale. Giving something high quality for free is the time-honored method of doing this.

Of course, as already stated, some of the simplest free gifts are digital downloads or online content – once they have been created, they can be given away ad infinitum at no extra cost: Also, they can contain additional links back to the web site, creating the potential for further traffic.

Headlines: The choice of headline is critical – do a search on “powerful headlines” or “power words for advertising” to get a list of words that have been demonstrated to generate curiosity.

Solve their immediate problems If you provide a product or service that addresses directly an area of someone’s life that is painful or problematic, be direct and simple. This can incentivize them to take action. In an area where people want fast solutions, don’t distract them. Speak directly and offer immediate help.


Flyers are a great way to promote a web site. You can produce thousands of them at low cost, they are generally more appropriate than stickers for offering a free product and you can give them to anyone you meet. Try it. Oh, and use recycled paper please.

It is possible to outsource and hire someone to do every last bit of it from the design to the distribution. Obviously for this business to work, the revenue must exceed the cost of getting the work done – but if you manage to achieve this, and have an online product that can be sold continuously, you can look forward to a potentially reliable revenue stream that runs by itself once set up.

A tried and true method is to create a free information product in your area of expertise, then create flyers which notify people of the free offer, together with a QR code and written link (for those without smartphones). Keep it simple, clear and short.

I think it’s important to concentrate on promoting your free stuff on the flyer – this gives people the incentive to take it home as opposed to discarding it. Another great reason is that when you are in conversation, you can bring the subject up at any time without making people feel like you are selling to them. You are not selling to them; you are offering something to them for free! If there are offers of good quality freebies, it makes you feel more confident in your approach. You are not there to try to take something from them. You are there to offer them something cool that is absolutely free! Just get them to the web site with a genuine offer of something free. They’ll more likely think of you as a generous person, rather than a salesperson. Then do the selling on the site, once you have established rapport.

Target Your Demographic

Your demographic is the “type of person” who is most likely to buy your products. The more accurately you can find and direct your marketing at your demographic, the more likely you are to see good results. Part of this targeting is common sense; there’s little point attempting to sell heavy metal music memorabilia at a knitting convention. However, ultimately, you will need to test and experiment in order to get the best results.

Demographic factors can be anything – age group, physical location, interests, annual earnings, body type, hair type, gender, types of events they go to, types of products, stores and services they already use, television shows they watch…

Do you know who your target audience is, what they do, where they go, what other things they like, where they already shop, who they listen to?

Do you know the kinds of places where your demographic gathers in large numbers? Thus, if your demographic is sports car enthusiasts, go to car shows. If your demographic is fans of punk rock music, go to punk rock concerts. There are other methods of offline marketing which do not involve making personal appearances, of course. However, you still have to be highly visible, one way or another.

Have Strong Branding

“A great brand raises the bar — it adds a greater sense of purpose to the experience, whether it’s the challenge to do your best in sports and fitness, or the affirmation that the cup of coffee you’re drinking really matters.” – Howard Schultz (president, CEO, and chairman of Starbucks)

A strong brand is memorable, attractive, and has a set of values deliberately associated with it.

One of the fascinating things about branding, as anyone who has created a brand will know, is that a brand is in a mysterious way a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Give your brand a gleaming shield and a mark of high status, and you will find yourself striving harder to uphold the set of values you have created. It is as if the brand has a focusing effect on the company. A brand creates a tribal unity. Consider probably the first ever form of branding – the flag of a country: It is a piece of cloth with some colored shapes on it. And yet it symbolizes the dreams and loyalty of a nation to their homeland and their own people. Flags create immediate recognition and cause people to rally around them – it is deeply ingrained into us.

It is important to actually uphold the values that your brand stands for. You cannot just fake it and create an empty icon for an enterprise that does little actual benefit to anyone else. This would lead ultimately to brand dissent, the opposite of brand loyalty – and feelings can run strong either way.

We have all seen superior products completely outsold by inferior products with better image, branding and marketing.

Final Note: Employ Customer Retention:

If you let visitors to your web site simply come and go, you may be “leaving a huge amount of money on the table”. The obvious customer retention strategy is the email list / subscriber list. There are many others: Creating a forum, allowing visitors to subscribe to an RSS feed which delivers notification of new blog posts, creating a site which allows profiles to be created – these are all strategies which are used to get people to come back to a site again and again.

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Graphic – Image src – Pixabay (PD)

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