Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Offline Marketing for Your Online Shop

You can Facebook, Twitter, and My Space all day long, but what about marketing to your local market? The number one marketing strategy is social networking, a concept that was around long before the Internet. Word of mouth is what it is all about, so begin spreading the word through family, friends, and offline marketing. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. If you don't have a lot of money to spend, then head on over to Vista Print for freebies. Once you are on their emailing list, you will get offers of freebies on a daily basis (you will feel spammed, but when you want something, there is always a coupon for free items, and you can order more than one freebie at a time). They always offer free business cards. Is there a catch? Of course. You give up your email address for one; and for two, your freebie cards come with a small (but muted color) "Vista Print" on the back of the card. You must use one of their graphics, but they do give you a wide range of choices, so really, the positives outweigh the negatives. You could spend $50 at your local print shop on 250 business cards, or get them for free (less than $10 s/h) on Vista Print. I recently ordered business cards, a car door magnet, postcards, and a t-shirt for free. You simply can't beat that deal. Put your cards in your purse or pocket and give them out. Shyness won't get you anywhere. You don't have to bug the daylights out of people, but you can let them know what you are about. Ask family and friends to share the love as well.

2. A car window cling or door magnet is another way to get the word out. Put your website name on it (in large, clear letters). I often notice these things, and out of curiosity, look them up when I get home. This could lead to potential sales. It's also a way of getting your name out there in the general public.

3. Create a flier with tear off pieces of paper that have your website address on it. Keep a stash in your car, and when you go grocery shopping, or to other local places with community bulletin boards, put one of your fliers up. You can make a flier on your computer and print them off. Use colorful pictures on your flier to draw people's eyes. Create eye candy and the need to want syndrome.

4. I've created photo quality 4 x 6 cards to leave at various places (beauty shops, yoga studios, coffee houses, smoothie places, dance studios - any independent place where potential shoppers hang out). The cards have my website address and pictures. I also create a discount "code" for potential buyers. Offering discounts and using codes not only gives a potential customer an extra reason to try you out, but it also helps you track your efforts. Tip: Search for photo paper at dollar stores. I buy mine at the Dollar Tree (20 cards for $1).

5. I will tell you a secret. Teachers love to shop. Take a stash of cards to your local school (include a "teachers" discount) and ask to have them placed in the teacher's boxes (a treat for the school secretary might help). If you make food items, donate a batch to the teacher's lounge. Some schools allow vendors to set up in the teacher's lounge or workroom. This is a great way to build up clientele.

6. If you work in an atmosphere that would accept marketing, pass out your cards to coworkers (or ask your spouse to give cards out). Make sure you are not breaking company policy.

7. Write a press release and send it to your local newspaper along with pictures. Local magazines are another source to spread the word. Look for the free area magazines that write up articles about local businesses. Write and article and send it in. You never know -they just might publish it!

8. Get involved in local craft shows. Church bazaars at Christmas provide the perfect opportunity to make some sales and get the word out. Take along plenty of business cards.

9. Hold a craft party. Treat your products like Mary Kay, Avon, or Pampered Chef. Display your items in your living room, provide food and drinks, give out door prizes, and hold some sort of demonstration. Invite friends (and tell them to bring a friend) and offer a special discount.

10. Target your market. If you sell items for babies, provide goody bags for new moms at local hospitals. Do you have items for teachers? Add a freebie to the new teacher bags districts give out during beginning of the year in service. Do you sell jewelry? Make something special for your beautician and give her cards to give out. Think of creative ways to get to your target market. Where do they hang out? You might have to spend a little to make a lot -that's how it works in marketing, so target your efforts, and track everything you do. If a campaign doesn't work -don't use it again, or try it with a new twist. Watch for clever ways other independent businesses market to you and get your attention. They might be onto something. Give it a try!

Please leave comments sharing different ways you've marketed your online shop offline.


  1. These are all great ideas! I will have to try some of them. I did find vista print a long time ago. What a nice service!

  2. wonderful ideas! ty for sharing them!

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