Seven Offline Viral Marketing Ideas

Seven Offline Viral Marketing Ideas
Recently I​ participated in​ a​ forum discussion about offline marketing – that is​ using more traditional marketing offline to​ drive traffic to​ your website or​ blog .​
I​ can still remember the​ first time I​ saw a​ URL in​ a​ TV commercial and how cool I​ thought that was.
The offline world has the​ constraint of​ geography,​ so the​ least expensive forms of​ viral marketing are going to​ be geographically bound,​ which can be challenging for some sites .​
Someone on​ the​ forum said that offline marketing is​ a​ waste of​ time for most sites or​ blogs .​
I​ think that is​ a​ false generalization .​
In fact,​ every site should practice some form of​ offline viral promotion .​
We call these efforts drive to​ web programs and they can be very successful.
There are two important pieces to​ all promotion,​ and they become even more important in​ promoting your site offline .​
Just like the​ online world,​ your success at​ offline promotion is​ going to​ hinge on​ putting your message in​ front of​ the​ prospect in​ the​ right context – meaning at​ the​ right time and when they are in​ the​ right mood to​ perform the​ action you​ are looking for,​ which in​ this case is​ a​ visit to​ your website.
You need two elements for each viral marketing idea – the​ hook and the​ context .​
Once you​ figure out how you’re going to​ do it,​ you​ need to​ determine where you’re going to​ do it .​
If the​ niche and scope of​ your business won’t lend itself well to​ local leads,​ passing out business cards isn’t going to​ work as​ a​ viral marketing idea .​
I​ think every site could benefit from offline leads – it’s just a​ matter of​ how much time and money you​ want to​ throw at​ them.
So here are ten ideas with an​ explanation of​ hook and context for each:
1 .​
Idea: Use your URL like your phone number .​
Most people get it​ on​ their business cards but leave it​ off many equally important items that become marketing materials .​
Here are a​ few: letterheads,​ press releases,​ yellow page ads,​ newspaper advertising,​ radio and TV ads,​ company vehicles,​ brochures,​ sell sheets,​ the​ bottom of​ every page of​ your catalog .​
Wherever there is​ a​ phone number there should be both a​ URL and contact email address that is​ generic (
Cost: Nothing .​
You’re already paying for the​ materials anyway.
Context: Global,​ because all of​ your marketing materials travel all over the​ place,​ and your ads should be seen and heard everywhere in​ the​ markets you​ choose.
2 .​
Idea: Webcards .​
You can get business cards pretty cheap this days .​
Companies like DCP Print offer 250 free business cards with their ad on​ the​ back (their own viral marketing) or​ $9.99 for 500 cards .​
They seem a​ little thin,​ but they’ll do .​
What you​ want to​ do is​ choose an​ attention-getting color that fits with the​ image of​ your site (a nice sky blue or​ yellow),​ and put your URL right in​ the​ middle in​ huge letters .​
Put a​ short description of​ the​ site and maybe your email and/or telephone number,​ and give them out.
Cost: Minimal.
Context: More locally focused,​ because you​ are handing them out .​
But check out the​ next idea.
3 .​
Idea: Make every customer contact a​ viral marketing opportunity .​
Remember the​ webcards from the​ last idea? It’s a​ no-brainer to​ hand them out directly to​ customers,​ right? How about paper clipping a​ couple of​ them to​ an​ invoice or​ statement or​ other correspondence with a​ small postit note personally written by you​ asking them to​ keep one of​ the​ cards and give the​ other one to​ someone who might be able to​ use it.
This will work with many of​ the​ ideas on​ this page.
If you​ spend enough time building relationships with your customers they should be happy to​ help .​
Be sure to​ thank them for any referrals.
Cost: Minimal.
Context: Sort of​ a​ viral marketing meets chain letter idea that has potential .​
Global in​ scope.
4 .​
Idea: Referral Bribes .​
This is​ a​ terrific idea,​ because it​ works both offline and online .​
For online you​ can send an​ email to​ your customers or​ put a​ link on​ your pages .​
There are tools like refer-a-buddy for websites and there are plenty of​ free refer this page to​ a​ friend scripts out there.
Offer your current customers an​ incentive to​ refer new customers .​
Maybe it’s a​ coupon for a​ percentage off their next order,​ or​ an​ entry into a​ prize raffle or​ something else of​ value .​
This encourages people to​ tell you​ who referred them so you​ can see who’s helping you​ out.
For the​ offline equivalent,​ make up a​ coupon and hand it​ out to​ people to​ hand out to​ other people.
Always send a​ thank you​ to​ people who refer other people,​ even if​ you​ bribe them.
Cost: a​ little to​ a​ lot,​ depending on​ the​ bribe.
Context: Global if​ you​ combine offline with online.
5 .​
Idea: Tchochkes .​
Tchochkes [choch-kez] are little gifts (knick knacks) emblazoned with your URL that you​ give out to​ people .​
The webcard could actually be considered a​ tchochke,​ but they usually are stuff we have on​ our desk or​ around our house like paperweights,​ coffee cups,​ T-Shirts,​ refrigerator magnets and other stuff.
At my wine shop we give out corkscrews with foil cutters that have our info printed in​ gold on​ them .​
I​ never have them out where people can see them but people often ask for them so I​ know they are getting around.
These can be very effective,​ but they can also be very expensive .​
If you​ come up with a​ well-designed coffee cup or​ paperweight it​ will end up on​ the​ desk of​ your customer,​ where everyone that comes into his office can see it .​
Make sure the​ URL is​ prominent,​ and try to​ make it​ fun and unique.
Cost: Could get very expensive.
Context: Global depending on​ where you​ send them.
6 .​
Idea: Direct Mail with a​ personalized offer I​ have done this successfully many times,​ and your success is​ going to​ depend on​ how well you​ target your prospects and the​ quality of​ your offer.
If you​ have a​ super-niche site,​ subscription-based site,​ or​ high ticket niche item this idea is​ probably a​ winner for you,​ though it​ may get expensive .​
There are (snail mail) mailing lists for everything .​
I​ have used a​ broker,​ Edith Roman for years .​
Put together a​ mailing list and a​ good offer,​ like a​ trial subscription or​ free gift or​ special coupon or​ free knick knack or​ something like that.
Use a​ well designed,​ neat,​ personalized letter with a​ personalized URL (an easy one),​ and send them off to​ redeem their offer .​
Use a​ personalized splash page and a​ good offer.
Cost: Fairly expensive to​ very expensive.
Context: Global.
7 .​
Idea: the​ World as​ Your Billboard If there is​ opportunity in​ a​ more local focus for your drive to​ web program,​ you​ should figure out how to​ get your URL in​ front of​ as​ many people as​ you​ can locally .​
Creative and unique wins the​ day.
I’ve seen posters,​ yard signs,​ billboards,​ bumper stickers,​ pens and pencils,​ car window signs .​
Think about it​ and come up with something good.
Don’t clutter them with text .​
Use your URL and a​ few descriptive words:
Bigger is​ better
One person had bookmarks made up and inserted them into books at​ the​ local bookstore (owned by a​ friend) in​ relevant categories .​
Brilliant .​
Another person created PDF viral marketing kits for site fans to​ spread the​ word in​ their town .​
Another brilliant idea.
Cost: Inexpensive.
Context: Local.
Always,​ always,​ always have business cards,​ web cards,​ brochures,​ tchochkes or​ some viral marketing medium on​ you,​ because you​ never know when an​ opportunity to​ pass them out will arise.
I have a​ supply of​ business cards and brochures in​ the​ trunk of​ my car .​
I​ even have a​ stack of​ cards in​ the​ saddlebag of​ my motorcycle.
All of​ these ideas are combinable,​ and you​ should be implementing at​ least one or​ two of​ them .​
I’d love to​ hear your offline viral marketing ideas .​
Post them at​ AffiliateBlog.

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