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9 5 Ways to Use Social Media and Your Online Presence to Drive People Offline

No matter what your business sells, how it sells it or how and where people buy you it, people are going online to find it, pure and simple. That’s as true for those one of kind hand made earrings as it is for the spa and auto repair shop in their neighborhood.

Explore The Bruce via Flickr

And, it’s increasingly true for the local insurance provider, landscaper, plumber, attorney and tax professional.

So, what does this mean for the local small business? You’ve got to start thinking about your online presence as a central tool for driving people offline and into your store, sales presentation, meeting, demonstration, appointment or evaluation.

Below are five ways to think about your online activity as an offline opportunity generator.

1) Online calls to action

When people do find and visit your site make it easy for them to use your website to get a free pass, coupon or trial product.

Enable tools like click to call or chat from Olark, so they can get in touch right now and get their burning questions asked

Put a tool like GenBook on your site they can find a time and schedule appointment without needing to call.

Make sure that you have turn by turn directions and links to maps so they can find your business and even send the directions to their smart phone.

2) O2O advertising

Most people run ads to get people buy, what if you thought about your online advertising as a way to simple drive people offline – O2O?

Create local campaigns using Google Adwords that drive people to your website to take advantage of the calls to action, such a the free pass or coupon, that I discussed in the previous point.

Make sure that your Google Places page is complete and compelling and consider the coupon and advertising options available for this tool.

Look into Facebook targeted ads for your calls to action. You can target local Facebook folks all the way down to targeting fans of your competitors.

To make your O2O advertising even more effective create local landing pages for each campaign or even neighborhood you are targeting.

3) Networked networking

Offline networking is still a great way to create and build potential relationships, but you can really amplify this tactic when you add some simple online tactics to your networking efforts.

When you connect offline with a prospect at say a Chamber event, move to also connect online and watch how much faster you can build a relationship.

Employ Social CRM tools like Rapportive or Nimble so you can easily connect the social profiles of anyone you meet to their record. This will make it much easier to learn how to connect.

Look at tools like MeetUp that make it easy to create offline events and gatherings using an online marketing system.

4) Local social groups

Most social networks give you the ability to create groups. Some organizations have had tremendous success by creating and facilitating local, special interest groups on networks like LinkedIn.

The key here is to think “interest group” and not something that’s clearly a promotional tool for your business. If you can create an industry group or some other niche topic that allows your customers to explore and expand an interest they have, you’ve hit on a formula that’s very potent.

5) Online and on the go

Increasingly, our prospects are not only online they are mobile while doing so. There are some very creative ways to take advantage of this fact and drive people with great buying intent offline.

First off make sure you claim your location on sites like Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter. This way you can enhance the details and make sure people using geo location services can check in at the right place.

Create and test an offer on a service like Foursquare that can help highlight your business when someone checks in at another nearby business.

Look into the group coupon tools like Groupon, Google Offers or Living Social, but make sure you’re ready to capture the leads these programs produce in a way that allows you to turn a low profit sale into a long term customer.

Think about ways to create check-in games that you could use as part of a promotion. Get a group of strategic partners to participate and offers special deals for people that have checked in at a number of your partners on Foursquare of that take a photo of their purchases at a number of partners and posted it to Twitter or Instagram.

As you can see, the way you can employ this kind of thinking is limited only to your imagination, but there’s no denying the importance and effectiveness of this strategy.

13 Google Finally Weaving Local Strategy

Google has the money, resources and clout to compete in any market they enter fully. Problem is they also seem to suffer from a focus problem. They tend (or at least it appears to me) to release features without strategy.

Of late, however, it looks like they just might be getting their local strategy together and marshaling a suite new features combined with existing assets to put themselves in position to take a giant leap in the local reviews, local offers, and local social games to go with their strong local search position.

Google City Pages and Offers

Two barely noticeable moves in the last couple weeks give hint to the this focus strategy. I took note of both and wrote quick updates – The first was the addition of optimized reviews in Places Pages and the second was the addition of reputation management features in Profile Pages. Both of these moved signal a renewed focus on making both Profiles and Places pages more important in their ecosystem and perhaps ultimately in a social network of some sort.

Of course the Google Offers play – their answer to Groupon’s success – has been unfolding for a few weeks, and I had my doubts they would do what it would take to slow Groupon, but hey, it’s Google and you never know.

This week they slyly unleashed what could only be called City Pages – hat tip to the always informative David Mihm for tracking this down – City Pages, like this example for Portland, are a necessary piece in the puzzle if they are to compete with Groupon, but they also further the importance of claiming and optimizing a Place Page, appear to show in the Index and really put the spot light on the reviews. (Only a handful of cities are currently live.)

Business owners are invited to claim their pages, create special offers and try out ad products such as Boost right from the city home page. There’s also an interesting integration of acquisition TalkBin, a tool that makes it very easy for people send SMS messages to any registered business.

The cities chosen for the City Page beta test closely align with the first Google Offers beta tests and can be supported by the local Google sales and support staff. With Google’s ability marry advertising with offers and a local portal this could prove very disruptive to Groupon, but also to many local portals services such as Yelp! and CityPages.

4 Weekend Favs January Nine

I’ve added a weekend post routine that I hope you enjoy. Each weekend I write a post that features 3-4 things I read during the week that I found interesting. Generally speaking it won’t involve much analysis and may range widely in topic. (Flickr image included here is also fav image of the week)

snow
Image credit: Tim Dobson

Enjoy!

Good stuff I ran across this week:

  • TweetFunnel – great Twitter tool for managing tweets from a team environment. Allows for some control and approval
  • Groupon – very interesting collective buying and discount program grouped by city. Interesting for a user and for small businesses wanting to spread the word through coupon like concept.
  • 30 bloggers to watch in 2010 – Great list of blogs from ProBlogger. Some that I know well, some new to me – and no, I’m not on the list 🙂