Online Marketing At Offline Events

Many people who run local businesses, and do not have much sophistication in terms of internet marketing, tend to rely on what has worked in the past including what older family members have suggested.  This usually means that the local business owners go to live networking events to build their businesses.  Their justification is that it is difficult to beat a “face to face” way to build one’s business.

There are some drawbacks to this approach in today’s era of new technologies.  Primarily, a local business owner must DO MORE than simply attend the event today in order to grow his/her business.  After attending business networking events, chamber of commerce breakfasts, and other events where local business owners try to increase their businesses I have noticed a few areas in which they can improve.

In no particular order:

  • Many people need to work on their “calls to action” in their 30-second opportunities to promote their businesses
  • Some people need to overcome their fears of public speaking as they squander their promotion time by mumbling or otherwise being unconvincing
  • They publicly make inside jokes which are lost on 95% (or more!) of the audience
  • Basic business manners sometimes get violated at these events as well

These are the basic, everyday things which need improvement.  Should you be one of the people who need help in these areas then do yourself a favor and address them ASAP.  Improving them will help your reputation, confidence, and overall results virtually every time.

In addition, there are several things which can be done to incorporate online marketing into “offline” (real world) events:

  • In many Chamber of Commerce breakfasts, there is a sponsor who is given a certain amount of time to promote his/her business.  Rarely, if ever, are these talks recorded on video.  Even a basic “Flip” camera can suffice!  These talks should be recorded and then edited for possible distribution to the video-sharing sites like YouTube.  What you want to show on the video sharing sites is a quick example of “social proof” that you are the expert in your area (niche and/or geographical); and you want to show that others trust you and believe in your abilities.  This needs to be conveyed to the world at large, such as a popular video-sharing site, in order to convince others that you are an expert
  • Many people at various networking events have terrific brochures.  These brochures offer useful tips, some basic instructions, and other helpful information.  Yet these brochures are oftentimes NOWHERE to be found online!  You can add these brochures to document-sharing sites, converted into slide presentations and shared on slide show-sharing websites, and converted into articles and submitted to the article directory sites.  Each of these will be discussed in future blog posts
  • Often, business owners meet a “warm prospect” at a networking event.  Unfortunately, they miss a golden opportunity to further enhance the prospect’s likelihood of becoming a customer/client.  As a representative of your business, consider having a USB memory stick already pre-loaded with a podcast (MP3 file) and/or video with more detailed information about your business and the benefits you offer.  When the warm prospect is leaving the event, chances are that he/she has some piece of technology on the way to his/her next stop which allows your memory stick to be used.  An audio CD or a CD-ROM may suffice as well.  Yes, you will continue to hand out your business cards to the casual prospect; but the ones who express interest right there should be given something special.  Tell the person to play the file on the car/train/bus ride from leaving the event instead of listening to music or the news on the radio.  Also encourage the person to share the information with anyone else they know who is interested in what you have to offer

Hopefully these three suggestions will give you some ways in which to broaden your message long after the event is completed.  They, and similar ideas, will help you reach more people and leverage technology to assist you in prospecting even when you are not there in person.

Should you need help in any of these areas then feel free to contact me.