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18 5 Ways to Use the Internet to Drive People Off the Internet

One of the greatest uses of the Internet for small local business is as a tool to enhance their greatest offline strength – the ability to engage in person.

Mike_fleming via Flickr

While the Internet offers the ability to reach globally, it possesses real power for the local business in its ability to extend reach locally.

Local marketers that fuse what they are doing offline, in their store, in their leads groups and in their community, with the awesome depth and ease of reach available through an active online presence can amplify the impact of their efforts in ways that produce a much greater return on investment all around.

The in person experience is the ultimate competitive advantage for the small business and it’s how they beat the online and big box competition. Many people have begun to call this thinking O2O or online to offline marketing.

Here’s a taste of what I mean:

Meetings that start online and end offline

What if you started a local leads group and used MeetUp.com to help facilitate the promotion and invitation to your referral group that also met in person once a month in your place of business.

This could create a powerful network of strategic partners using a suite of online tools to build each others businesses passively while still connecting at a much deeper level by meeting in person.

Networking that is both on and offline

Local business owners understand the power of networking and belonging to local groups such as their Chambers of Commerce. What if you supplemented your local networking events with social media and networking tools?

Think about the impact of meeting someone at a local event and then connecting through Facebook or LinkedIn to continue to communicate and share. Now, imagine what the relationship might look like the next time you bump into each other simply because you were able to connect, learn and engage online in between meeting face to face.

By connecting some simple tools like Rapportive, SproutSocial or BatchBook you can easily add the social network participation of everyone in your contact database. Do you see how that might speed communication and networking in the best sense?

Snack sized online showcase

The next time you plan a seminar or workshop, add this feature. Invite all of your clients and prospects to the live event, but add several opportunities for them to sample the great content in a few easy to attend online events.

Interview speakers, tease content and give them a taste of the value of attending in person. It’s become much harder to attract customers and prospect to events and so you need to sell the value in many ways.

By creating preview type marketing and distributing it through online channels using tools like GoToWebinar or Vokle you can create a sense of excitement and offer potential participants proof that there is a compelling reason to attend the full deal.

GPS as a marketing game

Mobile is for the most part an online game that is played locally. People that use their mobile devices for locating, shopping, and sharing are often doing so with local buying in mind.

Smart local businesses are plugging into tools such as Foursquare to build brand pages and reward local offline purchases, but they are also creating their own games using platforms such as Twitter and Scvngr.

Create a local social group

Social networks such as LinkedIn allow members to create and moderate groups on any subject.

Some smart local marketers have picked up on this and created very locally based groups around a topic of interest. Of course the topic has the most traction if it has broad appeal rather than simply promoting one business.

If you can create a group that brings lots of your prospects and network together in support of a topic of interest you might find it to be a powerful way to drive offline behavior inside the group as well.

Bryan Elliot’s Linked Orange County is a good example of what’s possible.

There are so many ways to use online tools to make your business more attractive to offline prospects. The key is think about how to efficiently access increasingly larger online audiences to build the trust required to drive them into your profitable offline offerings.

9 5 Collaboration Tools Demonstrate How the Future Web Will Act

TalkWheelThe ability to collaborate with individuals and groups around the world is one of the greatest gifts offered by the new breed of online tool. These tools, and perhaps the web in general, are evolving to become more interactive and feature rich.

With the eventual adoption of HTML5 and its heavy support for AJAX, web pages are quickly becoming web applications in a foreshadowing of the next standard for web sites. Take note of these new tools as they will usher in the expectation that all sites begin to function instead of merely house information.

Below are 5 new breed collaboration tools making heavy use of HMTL5.

Groupzap – This one wins the coolness award in my book, but offers a really powerful set of tools for instant collaboration and brainstorming meetings and white boards on the fly. Marry it with Skype and you have a no cost tool that is hard to beat. You can drag files into the space, document with notes and save the entire session as a PDF. Nobody has to register you just send out a link via IM or email.

Microsoft Office Web Apps – (okay, this one probably doesn’t use HTML5 as IE doesn’t add support for it until IE9, but it still fits the new breed label) – Using the Office Web Apps and SkyDrive you can open a document with a group of people and  co-author and edit in real time with the entire group participating, making changes and viewing the changes live.

Google + Hangouts – One of the most talked about features of the much talked about Google + is Hangouts – a video chat function that allows you to invite or simply host an on the fly group video meeting. (There is now a Facebook plug in that mirrors this and you can add a Group Meeting plug in to your own WordPress blog)

TalkWheel – TalkWheel is an instant messaging platform that works more like a roundtable discussion than the linier stack of the typical IM. It actually create a visual representation of the conversations and filters and relates topics. Looks like a very cool way to keep track of conversations from around the web and I can see lots of focus group and brainstorming uses with its visual presentation.

Vokle – I’m probably stretching how some might view collaboration with this one, but I just love what you can do with Vokle. Vokle is actually a live streaming video platform, but it makes it very easy to have two people present or invite virtual guests to create a talk show kind of feel. You can also share a computer screen as the guest to flip back and forth from live presenter to slides or images. The entire stream can be recorded for future playback as well.

7 Weekend Favs June Twenty Five

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr.

Image mapelli.francesco via Flickr

Good stuff I found this week:

Vokle – very slick platform for hosting your own live streaming TV – you can also invite guests and do virtual interviews live and on camera as well.

Flowplayer – open source flash video player that allows you to customize the player for your embedded video and create a branded player – a step up from simple YouTube embeds for serious video experience.

MailVu – quite possibly the easiest way to record and send personalized video in email. Upgrade features a widget that you can offer to clients to record and send video testimonials to you.