Promoting Your Website Offline

When you think about ways to promote your website, think outside the Internet. You’d be surprised how many ways you can get get the word out, and drive traffic to your online business, that don’t involve Google. Keep reading for some suggestions.

You can find these and other ideas here. I’m focusing on these less obvious, offline ways to promote your site for several reasons: first, you’re probably already doing some of the more obvious methods of online site promotion, especially if you read this site regularly. And second, if you’re pinched for cash, most of these methods won’t cost very much.

Okay, let’s start by talking about literature related to your business. By this I mean items such as business cards, stationery, brochures, and so forth. If you’re already getting these items printed to hand out, add your company’s URL to them. Leave off the http:// part, including only the www.yourdomain.com section.

Why should you do this? Consider this: the whole reason you’re giving out your business information and literature to people is so that they can get a handle on what you have to offer in their own time. Business cards encourage potential customers to call at their convenience; brochures let them peruse your products or services when there’s no sales pressure. You can fit a lot more information on a website than you can on a business card, so including the URL lets users do as much research as they want, at their own pace. If I want more information about your online business, and I have your business card or brochure, why should I have to Google you? It’s poor customer service (even if I’m not yet technically a customer) to force me to hunt for your information.

If you’re using other traditional advertising methods, you’ll want to add your URL to those as well. Include it in display or classifieds ads you buy in trade publications, newspapers, magazines, and so forth. As I mentioned above, your website is the place that those viewing your ad will want to go for more information. Think of the ad as getting your potential customer’s attention, and your website as the place they go to get the full picture – and possibly decide whether they want to do business with you.

By the way, if you’re not using print advertising, you might want to consider it. I’m not talking about huge display ads in the New York Times; I’m thinking more along the lines of small display or classified ads in the back of very narrowly targeted magazines or trade publications that cater to the niche you’re trying to reach. I found a seller for a very rare tool for my favorite hobby that way – and I wouldn’t have even known he had it if his ad didn’t direct me to his website, where I could look over the items he offered for sale. You may not be able to list everything you sell in an ad, but you can certainly do it in a website!

Other traditional advertising methods you might use to drive potential customers to your website include direct mail, post cards, radio, billboards, and TV, among others. What makes sense for you will depend on what you’re already doing, what kind of budget you have, what you’re selling, and even where your customers tend to hang out. But regardless of the medium you’re using, there’s a way to add your URL to your message.

Do you advertise in your local yellow or white pages? If you, you absolutely need to include your URL. You can spend literally tens of thousands of dollars on yellow book advertising, especially if you’ve put your business in multiple books. Yes, you often pay by the line, but leaving one extra line for your company’s URL is money well spent. You probably don’t always have a human available to answer your phone, but your website is available 24/7 to answer the questions of potential customers. It could mean the difference between receiving a message with a question (if you’re lucky) and receiving a message with an order. 

Do you use press releases when your business does something newsworthy? While there are many websites for press releases (PRWeb.com and PRWire.com are just two that come to mind), newspapers, print publications, and even local radio stations can use your press releases. Make sure you include your company’s URL near the bottom of your press releases. This way, anyone who reads or hears your release can go to your website for more information.

Before you send out the press release, though, make sure the event is really newsworthy for the audience you’re trying to reach. The fact that you just promoted someone to senior vice president might not matter much to your customers – but the fact that you’re holding a festival at which you’ll be demonstrating your new product line probably would matter. A press release might encourage a higher turnout and more sales, especially if you include your company’s URL to get users to check out the new products on your website and (hopefully) become excited about seeing them in person. 

These are just a few often overlooked, offline techniques you can use to promote your website. Now that I’ve gotten you started, you can probably think of many more. Good luck!

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