If you’re the owner of a new or small business, you know that it can sometimes feel like an impossible task to manage all areas of your business.
You may feel like you’re expected to be not only knowledgeable in product development, sales, marketing, accounting and the legal side of running a business, but able to confidently make decisions and execute strategies. Whether you work solo or with a small team, you will recognise the importance of effective marketing. You may have created the coolest / best / most innovative business on the planet, but if no one knows about it you won’t be in business much longer.
This is where the pressure hits. Maybe you don’t know much about marketing; especially all of the new channels that you need to be utilising like social media, blogs, vlogs, SEO and pay per click advertising. Maybe you don’t have the knowledge to DIY your digital marketing and you may not be in a position to add someone new to your team, so why not just outsource the work?
A great deal of businesses have had the exact same realisation, thinking that they will continue to look after their offline marketing (such as brochures, print advertising and in store branding) and pay a freelancer or agency to take care of all of the tricky online stuff that they don’t have time for. However, what looks like an intelligent decision can easily backfire.
While they may seem very different, online and offline marketing are deeply intertwined. From a customer perspective, it is crucial to present a unified brand message so that no matter where they see your business or how they choose to interact with you, they don’t get confused. Messy branding is a red flag for your potential customers and if you’re trying to grow your business it may have a severe impact on your plans for the future. But how can you link your online and offline marketing successfully?
To start with, visual attributes need to be consistent. This covers everything from fonts, to colour palettes, to image styles. Visual brand recognition is subconscious, and if a customer doesn’t instantly recognise your brand they won’t take a second look. Imagine a potential customer who follows you on social media, regularly interacting with your posts, excited to visit your physical store only to walk past a store with completely contrasting branding and visuals. They would think they were at the wrong location! It works the other way too; you may have built up a strong relationship with a customer using offline marketing, but when they find your website online and it doesn’t look familiar, they might leave the page without reading any of your content.
Your tone of voice and brand personality also needs to be unified across your online and offline marketing. These often-overlooked elements of your brand can play a considerable part in potential customers feelings towards your business. If your brand personality is very corporate and legal focused, it is important that this is reflected in all of your customer touch points. You can’t have a very seriously written brochure and print advertising campaign, and then publish blog and social media posts that are cheeky and light hearted. You will not only confuse your audience, but you will lose their trust.
One of the great things about utilising both online and offline marketing is that it gives you the opportunity to boost the effectiveness of your campaigns. Maybe you want to raise awareness of a new product that you’re launching, or you might be offering a discount for a limited time. Whatever goal you’re trying to achieve, by having consistency across all of your marketing channels you will reach a wider number of people. For example, if you run a bakery and are offering a two for one deal on cakes, advertising in store and in the local paper will generate some interest, but posting about it through your online channels immediately widens the net. Similarly, why would you shout about the deal online, when customers passing by your store see no mention of it. Your online and offline marketing needs to work in synergy. Once you start linking the two you will see immediate benefit!
If you’re planning to outsource your online or offline marketing, make sure that you have clear communication with the agency or freelancer to ensure your strategies are aligned. Have regular conversations and request status updates to make sure your ideas are being realised effectively and that targets are being met. If you’re going to take on the challenge yourself, keep the above points in mind. If you’re planning offline marketing activity, ask yourself how it could be reflected online. By integrating your online and offline marketing you will not only develop a stronger brand message, but your efforts will boost business growth and truly enhance your business.
If you're looking to grow your business in Swindon or Wiltshire, we have a range of free marketing workshops available, covering everything from PR to social media. Find out more.