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5 Ways to Use Online Tools to Drive Offline Sales

Streamed to Microsoft Store in Santa Ana, CA

Streamed to the Social Media Club of Bahrain

To help celebrate National Small Business Week in the United States I hosted a Livestream webcast where I shared some tips for local businesses. The event was attended by over a thousand folks live and many more that gathered in 12 satellite in person events – from Santa Ana, CA to New Berlin CT in the US and in places around the world like Bahrain.

One of the most interesting things about the event is that showcased one of the ways you can use technology to create engaging events and reach people wherever they are. In a way it was the ultimate, online with offline kind of event that was the topic of the presentation.

Upward to 90% of our prospects are going online to search for products and services they intend to acquire offline locally. Smart marketers must adapt to this behavior by employing tools that make it easier for local shoppers to engage once they find you online in their town.

Enjoy this replay of the event.

Slides from the presentation

In 5 Ways to Use Online Tools to Drive More Sales we covered how to:

  1. Use Online Calls to Action: Leverage calls to action on your individual website to get more of your customers to act offline.
  2. Embrace O2O Advertising: Online advertising can easily be used to drive people to your offline business.
  3. Employ Networked Networking: The addition of online tools and networks have made traditional networking more effective.
  4. Form Local Social Groups: Create and facilitate local interest groups using online tools to dive awareness and sales.
  5. Get Online and On the Go: Take advantage of mobile use to drive on the go folks to your business.

Journey to the Center of the Marketing Universe

center of marketingThere was a time, just a few short years ago really, when small businesses finally concluded they must use the web to supplement their marketing efforts and create another potential channel for marketing messages.

Today’s business must evolve that thinking radically again or face extinction. The onslaught of social media use didn’t simply create another set of marketing tactics, it signaled, to those viewing it strategically, a shift in the marketing landscape that has become preposterously evident as we race towards the end of 2010.

The Web and digital interactivity now represents the center of the marketing universe. Most marketing decisions must start and end there. Today’s marketer must view their marketing strategies and tactics with an eye on growing the online center and radiating beyond with spokes that facilitate most of the offline transactional functions that drive sales and service.

All businesses, regardless of industry, have become what I call O2O businesses – their primary marketing objectives are focused on driving people online to drive them offline and in that effort the online core web presence has significantly heightened responsibilities.

Here’s some of what I mean

  • While advertising was used primarily to create a sale or enhance an image it must now be used to create awareness about web content
  • While SEO was primarily a function of optimizing a web site it must now be a function of optimizing brand assets across social media
  • While lead generation used to consist of broadcasting messages it must now rely heavily on being found in the right place at the right time
  • While lead conversion often consisted of multiple sales calls to supply information it must now supplement web information gathering with value delivery
  • While referrals used to be a simple matter of passing a name they now rely heavily on an organization’s online reputation, ratings and reviews
  • While physical store location has always mattered, online location for the local business has become a life and death matter

If you are still looking at your marketing efforts in a linear way – with online tactics falling somewhere in line – it’s essential that you change the way you view this model entirely. Today’s marketer must build from the center first and only then can you create the strong foundation that will carry your marketing into the next decade.

Trends That Will Shape Small Business Next Year

2011 trendsLast year about this time I wrote a post from OPENForum titled 5 Trends That Will Shape Small Business in 2010 – I’m thinking I pretty much nailed them, which on the surface might seem easy because small business are often late to jump on trends. The tricky thing about understanding small business though is that when they do jump on a trend it’s often in ways that run counter to what the mainstream media reports.

Small business don’t care about a trend so they can get out in front of something, they care about things that seems obvious, practical and worth the scant bit of time they might be able to allocate to it. If you’re trying to sell to or understand small business, take a look a look at this year’s 5 Trends That Will Shape Small Business in 2011.

Here’s a quick look at what they are, but you’ll have to go read the entire piece to get the full view from a small business vantage.
1) Social simply is
2) Mobile finally lands
3) O2O becomes strategy
4) Networked referral automation
5) Apps over Web