Small Business Toolbox – July Thirty

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Rafflecopter – Run amazing contests and giveaways via your social media platforms or even on your own website.  Easy to use and tons of possible uses to engage with customers as well as attract new ones.  Free and paid plans available.

Actual Multiple Monitors – If you've ever worked with two computer monitors you know that going back to one is almost imposssible.  It's  productivity heaven.  But you also know that it can clinky switching back and forth between monitors.  Actual Multiple Monitors offer an easy solution for working seemlessly between two monitors.

HOw can you live and have no story to tell

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

 

How to Test if Your Business Idea Has Legs Before It’s Too Late

Ideas are an incredibly valuable commodity and something that you should always treat with the utmost respect. Behind every huge company, every social movement and every product is an idea, and it’s the quality of that idea that dictates the success of the respective venture. One of the most wasteful things a person can do is to come up with a fantastic idea – whether it’s an idea for a website, a business or a book – and then squander it by never getting around to actually capitalising on it. You might have just walked right past a gold mine…

That said though, it’s also true that not every idea is going to be golden. While some of your ideas might be flashes of genius that could change the world/make you rich/help make people’s lives easier, others might be wild goose chases that simply waste your time and energy and never yield any reward. In business it’s particularly important to make sure your idea has legs – because to make a success of it you are going to have to invest a lot of money as well as your time. You might even leave your job, or become responsible for other people’s financial security. Ignoring a great idea is a waste and a missed opportunity, but getting fixated on the wrong one could well do a lot more serious damage.

The trick then, is to distinguish between the good ideas and the bad ideas and to spot that ‘fool’s gold’ before you become too committed. Here we will look at how you can tell a good business plan from a bad one before it’s too late.

Be Objective

The first thing to do is to ask yourself objectively whether you would actually put money into the business if it wasn’t your own idea. If you’re idea is a product, then would you buy that product as a customer? Likewise if your business is a service, then would you spend money on that service?

Ask Others

Of course you shouldn’t toss out every idea that you wouldn’t personally use. The point of business is to sell to other people, and as long as theirs a market out there for what you’re pushing it doesn’t matter if you aren’t among their number. The next step then is to ask other people whether they’d use your product or service, or whether they’d invest in your concept. Give them prices and specifics and then ask if they’d bite – and if not, why not?

Note that asking your friends alone isn’t usually the best strategy. While they will want to help, they’ll also want to protect your feelings which might lead them to be overly positive. Unless you have a friend you know is going to be brutally honest with you, you should also ask for professional advice from a consultant or another businessman/woman.

Market research of course is another way to test out if there’s an audience for your idea. You can either outsource this to survey companies, or create your own online surveys for free with sites like Survey Monkey. The more data you collect, the more confident you can be in launching your business.

Go Over it With a Fine Comb

Now you know your business proposal is attractive in theory, you need to look more closely at the specifics. What are your overheads? Your profits? What would your projected turnover be at the end of year one? How would you scale up the business subsequently? These are the questions that an investor would ask and you need to think the same way before you invest in your own business. If your margins are too low, then it doesn’t matter how many people want to buy your product. And if it can’t be scaled, then do you really want to invest that much energy into it?

Other Concerns

Numbers aren’t the only concerns you could theoretically have over a new business. You also need to think about legal issues, about any moral implications and about the practicalities of things like order fulfilment. Develop your business plan fully before deciding if it’s viable, and show it to as many professionals as possible.

Trial Runs

If your business has passed all these stages, then the next thing to do is to create a prototype, to run your service on a trial basis, or release an alpha/beta. This is the only way you can really see how your idea will perform in reality, and it will allow you to iron out any wrinkles before you’ve put too much time and effort in.

Back to the Drawing Board…

And if your business doesn’t pass all these stages? Then it’s time to rethink. Ask yourself if your idea can be adapted, or if elements of it can be salvaged, but if not, make sure that you do the sensible thing and just let go. There’s no room for sentimentality here…

 

Author Byline:

The founder of Berkeley Sourcing Group, Greg Fisher, is the brains behind this article. When he is not busy working, he enjoys reading books or playing a good game of chess with his friends. He has a strong affinity for creative writing and an undying allegiance to eco-friendly living.

How To Land Your First Client

Finding leads for your business memeJust start a business?  No clients yet?  Congratulations!

Leaving the comfort of a steady paycheck and stepping out on your own is both exciting and terrifying at the same time.  When you start your own business, you learn what it means to earn your paycheck, literally.

Without a customer there is no business.  If you don't have at least one paying client, you don't have a business, you have a hobby.

Getting your first Clint can be nerve racking.  Before that first client, there is no validation that your business means anything to anyone.  Sure, friends and family will tell you it's a great idea, but a paying client validates your insecurities and lets you proudly proclaim that you're “in business”.

We're not going to talk about driving leads to your business today; we are going to talk about getting your first client, that quick win that will give you the confidence to go after your second and third clients.  This does require time and effort, but an hour or so in preparation will go a long way your ability to land your first customer.  This is a targeted approach, no spray and pray marketing going on here.

So where do you start?

You start by making the decision to go out and get a client.  No more planning, prepping or thinking.  In order to run a successful business, you have to become comfortable with asking for business.  Everyone has a fear of rejection, but you have to work through that fear if you want to build a business.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that social media or social networking can replace going out and asking for business, it can't.  These activities have their place in a marketing strategy, but for now you need a customer.

Where do I find my first client?

You probably won't find them at a Wednesday afternoon networking event at the local coffee shop.  Most people who attend these events are just like you, they are looking for business. Your ideal client is at their business working, you will have to go and see them.  For the newbie business owner, this is called a sales call.  Social Media experts hate this direct method and prefer a much more casual approach to finding business.  This method is the most direct way to get the business you want.  Most people avoid it because there is a direct threat of rejection.  If you can overcome this rejection, you'll be operating on a much different playing field than your peers hanging out at the coffee shop wishing they had more business.

What do I do now?

Once you know that you need to be proactive in finding a client and you know where they are, you will need to figure out what your ideal client looks like.

  • What type of business are they in?
  • What size company should they have?
  • What need do they have that you will fill for them?
  • Can they afford what you will be charging them?

Once you have these things figured out, you can create a short list of the businesses that fit this profile in your area.  Once you know who you want as a client, you can then start preparing for your meeting with them.

Now What?

Now you're going to do what almost every other salesperson they meet never does, prepare.  You'd be amazed how many sales people (yes, you're the salesperson for your business) walk through the front door of a business and didn't spent 10 seconds finding out more about the business they want to sell to.

Before you walk through their front door, you'll need to do some research.  The research really depends on the type and size of the business you want to land as a client.  Some of the things you'll want to find out are:

What does the business do and what products and services they offer.  Spend some time learning more about their business and what they offer.  You can almost always find this information on their website or by doing a quick Google search for their business.  How big of a business are they, will they be able to afford your services?  Go in there being fluent in their business, demonstrate you have spent considerable time preparing for this sales call.

Who are the people involved in the business, especially the owner or management team that you'll be asking for.  Find out more about them, their backgrounds and maybe even hobbies if they get more personal in their profiles.  You can usually find this information on a company's About Us page, or if you have their names, a Google search for their name and company.  LinkedIn is a great way to do professional research like this.

What opportunities do you see for them that you have the expertise to provide?  Are they lacking in a particular area that you can help them out with?  Look at their competitors and see how they match up against them, are they ahead or behind the curve?  Pretend they are already a client and you're brainstorming ways you help them.

Create possible solutions you can offer them

Now that you have a better idea of who they are, what they do and how you can help them, you're ready to provide some solutions.  Create a few possible solutions that you can provide them with based on your research.  You want to go in there armed with a few solutions in hand and with a few different price points.

You're not going to walk in there with a full blown proposal, that's a waste of time at this stage, but you do want to go in there showing you have done your homework and have thought throug a few possible solutions for them.

Go and see them

Go and see them with solutions in hand.  I love my employees that come to me with a problem, along with several possible solutions they have thought through before approaching me with the problem (solution oriented people are like gold for any business, remember that when you hire your first employee).  A salesman who has clearly demonstrated they have spent time getting to know my business and come in with several well thought out solutions,  has earned a sit down with me at this point out of sheer effort.  Have a clear idea of what you can offer them when you walk through the front door.

Don't waste people’s time, a short greeting and then get right into why you are there.  They will know why you are there the second you open your mouth, don't start asking about peoples weekends or the weather, get to the point.

Be courteous to whoever is manning the front desk or admin area, they usually act as the gate keeper and many business owners rely on this person in determining who they should allow a meeting with.

If the business owner isn’t available, ask when a good time to come back is.  Don't leave anything except a business card behind, if you didn't get a chance to speak to the business owner directly, it'll probably end up in the trash.  Get the owners business card, thank them and leave.

If you weren't able to speak to the business owner

If you were given a good day or time to return, try again.  If the same thing happens, it might be safe to say that they just don't like dealing with unsolicited sales and are avoiding you.  When this happens to me, I do one of three things:

1- I have a more serious conversation with the reception person and let them know that I'm not here trying to sell crap. I tell them that I've spent a lot of time looking at your business and I think I can really help them, wouldn't the owner want to spend 5 minutes exploring this?.  I'll only need 5 minutes and I would really appreciate your help.  You'd be surprised once you make a mini heart-to-heart like that, how many times the gatekeeper will let you past the gate.

2- If it's business that I know will be a great fit and I know I'll be blocked every time I come in, I will take the Fed-Ex approach.  I will spend a few bucks and send my ideas and ways I can help them directly to the business owner via Fed-Ex, even if they are located down the street from me.  It's not cheap, but it's a 100% guaranteed way to get past the gatekeeper and get your message read by the business owner.  Do you know anyone who has ever received a Fed-Ex package and not opened it?  Just make sure there's a great intro letter to grab their attention.

3- Move on to another prospect, sometimes you have to weigh your options, especially if there are easier fish to fry.

Go out and get your first customer

I'm not going to tell you how to act or what to say when you do meet the business owner, everyone has their own style of selling themselves.  This is just my personal experience of how I go about landing my ideal client instead of waiting for them to come to me.  While networking and other passive forms of selling yourself have value, sometimes you need to just go out and get the business you really want.

 

 

 

 

 

Small Business Toolbox – July Twenty One

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Clearly – An Evernote browser extension that lets you read and print web articles in a clean, ad free manner.  Great for reading articles online without distraction.

Brand Yourself – Personal branding tool that helps you take control of the SERP'S when it comes to your name.  Free tool with some paid options.

Old Chinese proverb quote

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

5 Elements of a Great Advertising Piece

Classic ad copyHow many times have you purchased a newspaper ad or direct mailer and saw little, if any results?

If you're like many small business owner, the answer is “too many times”.  So what's going on here, is traditional advertising dead?  Do you need to dump offline advertising and concentrate on your Facebook Fan page?  Before you give up completely on traditional advertising, let's look at a couple of things.

Why did my advertising campaign fail?

There are many reasons why an advertising campaign fails, but many times it just comes down to the fact that the ad itself wasn't very good.  Small business owners aren't copywriters and usually don't have a clue when it comes to making an offer jump off a page.  That's what good copy does.

For business owners, making the decision to buy the advert is the big decision, when in reality it's the least important in the whole process.  If the ad itself isn't designed to create action from the reader, you just wasted your money.   Pick up a paper and look at the ads, most of them give no reason whatsoever to take action, yet these businesses are wondering why nobody is calling them.

The creative copy that goes into your advertising piece is vital when it comes to getting the most out of your ad purchase.  Leaving it up to the in-house designer at the newspaper is a poor decision at best, they usually don't have the expertise or knowledge of your business to create anything worthwhile.

If you're going to make the investment in advertising, you need to take the time to work out an advert that appeals to your customers and urges them to take action.  Whether you're going to try your hand at it yourself, or hire someone with real experience creating compelling ad copy, here are a few things that are vital to an advertising piece that works.

Headline

If you get the headline wrong, you can write whatever you like after because nobody is going to read the rest of your advert.  People don't read, they scan.  They are looking for something to jump out at them and if your headline doesn't do that then they skip right over you.  A good headline should make the reader stop what they are doing and want to find out more.  The ad below is from Harley Davidson and strikes a cord with its message of brotherhood.  You should be spending the majority of your creative time thinking of a headline that will grab your readers attention.

Harley Davidson brohterhood advert

The Offer

After reading past the headline, readers want to know the magic question, “What's in it for me?”  Tell them.  The mistake most people make is thinking that the reader wants to learn more about how awesome their business is and how many awards you have won.  They couldn't care less.  They want to know how they will benefit from what you have to offer.

Offer them something good.  If you think a free t-shirt or 5% discount will make people jump, maybe you should stop now and call in a copywriter.  And it doesn't need to be a discount or free giveaway, it needs to be something that makes people want to get up and call you because the thought of not having what you have to offer is suddenly depressing.  If you want to see how a “I can't resist it” offer is constructed, stay up late and watch a few late night infomercials.  Ron Popeil was the master at it.

Clear offer for advert. Capital ONe

Call to Action

Are you prompting your readers to take a clear next step?  Whether it's a phone call, walk in offer, or website visit, people need to be told what to do next.  Only big brands like Coke have the deep pockets to spend millions on branding campaigns with no action oriented message.  As a small business owner, you need action, and lots of it!  Make it very clear what you want the person to do next. Don't be afraid to be blunt, clarity trumps creativity when it comes to adverts that drive sales.  The advert below clearly tells the reader what they have to do next.

Safeway clear call to action example in print advert

Time Sensitive

The only way to create urgency is to have a deadline for the person to act if they want to benefit from the offer.  Not having a time limit on the offer is like giving kids homework without a deadline for handing it in.  Good luck to the teacher expecting students to redeem that offer in the near future.  Let the reader know that if they don't act now, they not only will miss the great offer, but the product may not be available at all if they don't take action now.  Watch 15 minutes of the Home Shopping Network to get a clear idea how this works.

 Time sensitive offer in advert

Track Results

It's amazing how much you can track on your website through services like Google Analytics.  While you don't have the same features available to you offline, there are plenty of things you can do.  Remember, you can't improve what you can't measure.

  • Create a trackable phone number.  Services like Call Fire offer trackable phone numbers at a reasonable price to track the effectiveness of you ad campaign.
  • Create a dedicated landing page on your website.  Create a page specifically for this offer and track the visitor activity through your web analytics program..  Since you won't be sharing the page anywhere else, you'll know the visitors coming are from the advert you have in place.
  • Create a special offer.  Create a promo code specific for the advert you created so you know the redemption are coming from that specific ad.

With all of this tracking in place you will be able to monitor the effectiveness of your advert as well as the platform you are using.  If after a several different ad copy variations and tests, you may find that a platform like the newspaper just isn't effective for your type of business.  Tracking the advert yourself also gives you leverage when it comes to negotiating ad rates, you now have some hard numbers to use when it comes to what you're willing to pay next time.

Add tracking phone number and landing page url to print advert

Ready to create a great advert for your business?

So now that you understand the key elements that make up a great advert, the next step is for you to make one for you business.  Long term success in advertising and marketing in general, comes from a continued effort of testing and improving.  Don't beat yourself up if your first advert doesn't open a flood gate of new customers, just be committed to making your next advertising campaign a little better than your last one.  You'll be amazed at the results.

 

 

Small Business Toolbox – July Thirteen

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Tomatoes – If you like to use the Pomodoro technique while working, you'll enjoy this free app.  Simple to use.

Social Media Image Maker – Images play a big part in social media.  This neat tool lets you create and maintain your profile and cover images form most of the big social media platforms.

Butterfly quote-proverb-the small business playbook

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

10 Mobile Apps Every Business Owner Should Have

The Small Business PlaybookAs a business owner, you wear many hats.  Hats that you never imagined you'd be wearing.  You can go from scrubbing toilets to making a major purchasing decision in the span of an hour.  You also know that time is your scarcest resource, with a never-ending to-do list and limited hours to actually do them..

Managing your time and effort is a challenge almost all business owners face.  One of the things that I've found helpful is to try to be productive during times that are traditionally unproductive.  Things like waiting for an appointment, standing in line at the store and driving in the car can all take up a good part of your day, why not make better use of that time.

Warning!  What I'm talking about here is making productive use of your time when you're typically not being productive.  Staring at your phone during your child's soccer game or while out for dinner is not what I'm talking about.  We all know that person, don't be them.

Here are the 10 mobile apps that allow me to be super productive when I'm out of the office.  All of them are free, with some having paid options for additional features.  They also work on both Android and iOS.

Evernote

Evernote probably makes most people's list when it comes to productivity.  It's my most used app, and basically acts as my second brain.  If you're not familiar with Evernote, it's a cloud based service that lets you save just about anything.  Create and save text, image and audio notes right from your phone.  I use this app for countless things like saving digital copies of paper documents, storing receipts/invoices and for storing ideas and information for future projects.  Evernote comes in mobile, web and desktop versions so it's always close by when you need it.

Evernote mobile screenshot

Dropbox

My favorite cloud storage application.  Dropbox lets me sync my office computer, laptop and mobile phone so I have access to all of my files from anywhere.  If I make a change to a document on my laptop, the changes will automatically be reflected on every device I'm syncing with Dropbox.  I can view and share files directly from my phone, which is great when you're out of the office for an extended period.

Dropbox mobile screenshot

Cam Scanner

Cam Scanner turns your phone into a mobile scanner, allowing you to create and share PDF documents using the camera on your phone.  You can digitize multi-page paper documents in a flash and share them straight from your phone.  The thing I really like is that it integrates with other apps I use like Dropbox and Evernote, allowing me to upload or share files straight from my phone.

Can Scanner mobile screenshot

Any-Do

Any-do is a  great to-do list app that lets you prioritize and organize your to-do list.  You can set reminders, attach contacts from your phone to a specific task and add detailed notes to any item.  This was the first to-do list app that made me comfortable enough to ditch the traditional paper and pen.  While you can create multiple lists, It works better visually with a single list, at least in my opinion.  If you have to manage several lists at the same time, I recommend you try Google's new note taking app called Keep.  It syncs automatically with Google Drive, which is pretty cool.

Any Do mobile screenshot

SignNow

Sign and return documents straight from your phone.  No printing or faxing required. Upload or create a signature when you open a SignNow account and use that signature every time you need to sign and return a document.  It's surprisingly easy to use on your phone. It's a legally accepted way to sign a document in most countries, including the U.S and Canada.  They have a free account for 5 signed documents a month and paid accounts if you need more.

Signnow mobile screenshot

Cam Card

Same company that created Cam Scanner.  Cam Card lets you take a picture of a business card, and automatically takes creates a new contact on your phone with the fields already populated.  A great time saver, especially when attending events where you'll be collecting numerous business cards.  Free and paid versions available.

Camcard mobile screenshot

Pocket

Pocket lets you save articles you see around the web for easy reading later on.  Use the Pocket bookmarklet or browser extension and save articles for later reading.  You can then use the mobile app to read those articles as a time that's convenient to you.  Articles can be read in a mobile friendly format, sans ads and other distractions, which are automatically stripped out.  I always have a dozen  articles on hand to stay on top of what's new in my industry.  Also works without an internet connection.  Free.

Pocket Reader mobile screenshot

Beyond Pod/InstaCast

Just like with articles, I like to have a few podcasts ready to go for those long drives and days when you get stuck in a traffic jam.  As someone who used to spend a lot of time in the car, I credit audiobooks and podcasts for giving me an education much more valuable than any university degree could have given me.  Since I'm an Android user, I find Beyond Pod to be my podcast app of choice.  While iTunes has a native podcasting app (mixed reviews), InstaCast is a great alternative.

Beyond Podcast mobile screenshot


Skitch

Skitch is a mobile annotation tool that lets you create drawings, markup images as well as screenshots.  It comes in handy for me when I need to take a mobile screenshot for a client and can markup the image before sending it off.  It's a free app from Evernote and comes with a handy desktop version for your computer.

Skitch mobile screenshot

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is my favorite social media app.  The free version lets you sync up to 5 of your social media accounts so you can manage them all in one place.  It has some great features such as customizing how you view your social media streams and scheduling posts for a future date.  While I love social media, I try and not let it suck too much time from my day.  Taking two minutes while you're at the checkout line is a great opportunity to catch up on what's happening online.

Hootsuite mobile screenshot

What apps do you use?

So these are my 10 favorite mobile apps for when it comes to being productive when I'm not in the office.  What apps are your favorite?

 

 

Small Business Toolbox – July Sixth

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Poll Daddy – From Automattic, the same company that created WordPress.  A free (paid plans available) service that lets create cool quizzes, polls, and surveys for your business. It's easy to use and allows for a lot of customization.

Vuvox – Create beautiful multimedia presentations and displays with an easy to use interface. Free account with sign up.  Currently in beta.

Quote about life from Bruce Lee

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

 

Are You Prepared or Just Lucky?

“I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn't been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn't have been ‘lucky.'” ~Oprah Winfrey

The truth is, you make your own luck.  Rather, you make your own opportunities.

How many opportunity have passed your way, but you didn't see them?  You maybe you didn't see them because you weren't prepared to see them.  It's hard to see what you can't recognize.

Waiting for things to “happen” to you will always leave you at the back of the line.  Going out and “making” things happen not only gets you to the front of the line, it allows you to create your own line.  Like the great Zig Ziggler said, “there are no traffic jams on the extra mile”.

One of my favorite motivators of all time is the late Jim Rohn.  He talked a lot about opportunities, and being ready for them.  “….you never know when it's gonna happen, that one thing that turns your life around”

Prepare well before you need to.  Keep your antennas up at all times.  Create your own luck.

Jim Rohn Life Quotes

Supporting Your Online Marketing Campaign through Offline Outdoor Advertising

There are many in the advertising arena that believe the online space is the most important advertising medium and is where businesses should focus the majority of their marketing efforts. There is of course substance to this idea as technology continues to develop and online marketing becomes increasingly important.  But there are also lots of other opportunities to capture the attention of your audience.

While online marketing certainly has its value, it is not the only place you should be advertising and spending your advertising dollars. Creating an effective marketing campaign requires a balanced mix of multiple mediums and an online marketing campaign is no different. By supporting your online marketing campaign through alternative offline mediums you can increase the effectiveness of that campaign and outdoor advertising presents a great option for accomplishing this.

Advertising with billboards

Flickr

Establish Brand

One way that outdoor advertising can supplement your online campaign is by further establishing your brand. Establishing brand name is one of outdoor advertising’s greatest strengths and it can be applied to this situation wonderfully. While an online strategy may be able to reach your target audience easier and connect with them more, it does not necessarily strengthen brand recognition. Without brand recognition, even the most creative online marketing campaign will fall short. By incorporating outdoor into your marketing mix and taking advantage of its ability to fortify your brand name in the minds of your audience, you will only be increasing the effectiveness of your online efforts.

Hashtag use on a billboard

Build Trust and Relationships

Another way that outdoor advertising can support your online marketing strategy is by building trust and developing relationships with customers.

While the internet is useful in countless ways and is an incredible tool, it is not necessarily renowned for its trustworthiness. Less than credible people (scammers), hackers, and viruses have made consumers somewhat skeptical and suspicious of the information they find online. This may not bode well for your online marketing projects, especially if you are trying to change perceptions or influence behavior.  However, outdoor advertising can be used as a tactic to re-enforce that you are a real and credible business. Through outdoor advertising you can show your target audience that you are in fact an actual business and not just some random person with a website. When people see your outdoor ads they will view you as a legitimate business and begin to open themselves up to your message and not be as guarded as they would typically be.

By implementing outdoor into your marketing plan you can also begin to develop a relationship with your target audience. This can be coordinated and organized through your online strategy. For example, you can create an online contest for your customers to compete for the rights to create your next billboard. This not only encourages engagement online, but it helps build a relationship and promote loyalty which increases the chance of obtaining repeat business.

Classic billboard sign

Flickr

Drive Traffic to Online Campaigns or Websites

Outdoor advertising can also bolster the efforts of your online campaigns by directing potential customers to them and increasing traffic.

One of the most effective ways to do this is by applying this strategy to social media campaigns. Simple examples include billboards with a hashtag linked your twitter campaign or an ad on a bus that says “Like us on Facebook”. These are pretty standard examples but you can see how simple it can be to drive traffic to your social media campaigns. Another option is to utilize QR codes with your outdoor advertising to direct potential customers to specific webpages or sites.

The use of outdoor guerrilla marketing tactics can provide other ways of driving traffic to a specific website. For example, creating stickers to post all over town with the site’s URL on them can not only raise awareness of the site but also increase traffic. Another idea would be to employ street artists to “paint” the site’s URL in various locations around town.

There are a variety of ways that outdoor advertising can efficiently complement your online marketing efforts. Whether it be reinforcing brand name, building trust, or driving traffic to online campaigns; the value that outdoor can add to your online marketing strategy should not be ignored. They key to any successful marketing plan is a healthy balance of ads on multiple mediums and the grouping of outdoor and online can surely be an effective combination.

Contributor

Darren Leach is an experienced media planner and outdoor advertising expert. Currently he writes on behalf of Billboard Source, who provides a variety of billboard marketing products.