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Online or Offline: Is That Really The Question?

Anyone who has ever owned a small business knows that it comes with a lot of (oftentimes unexpected) challenges, obstacles, and surprises. Many small business owners find themselves asking, "How do I do this?" or "Why do I have to do that again?" more often than they'd like to admit. Let's face it, that's half the fun of turning a vision into a reality. Every day is a new adventure, an opportunity to learn something new.

For many, marketing falls into this category. It always sounds like a lot of fun, but for a new small business owner, especially one without any marketing experience to-date, it can seem and feel like a pretty hefty task. But you know you must build connections between your business and the local consumers all around you. It would be an easy sell if you could personally introduce yourself to every potential customer and tell them about your products and services.

Unfortunately, no one has enough time in the day for that, much less your potential customers. So, what's the next best way to promote your business and start building relationships with the people in your local community? Should you rely on tried-and-true traditional marketing tactics — like direct mail, newspaper inserts, or print ads — or ride the digital wave, focusing your attention on things like search engine marketing (SEM), display advertising, social media, email marketing, and online presence (just to name a few)?

The truth is, you don't have to choose one or the other. Consumers today, as they go about making purchases, are influenced by both online and offline triggers. In fact, at YP, we believe that the most effective marketing strategies are those that incorporate the two, seamlessly. Not only does an integrated marketing approach generate a higher overall return on investment (ROI) — versus putting all of your marketing eggs in either the online or offline baskets alone — but also, in doing so, you have a better chance of reaching and engaging consumers at different points along their purchase journey. Where to start? Here are a few tips to get your next integrated marketing campaign going.

  • Build a Strong Online Presence
    The consumer journey "zigzags" between devices, platforms, and the online and offline worlds as people go about making purchase decisions. That basically means your business must be ready to meet consumers wherever they are in that journey — and that starts with your online presence. Make sure your business website is well designed and mobile-friendly, check your online listings for accuracy and consistency (location, phone number, business hours, etc.), add rich content, videos, and imagery to your website and any online directory where your business is listed, and don't forget to give your social media channels a little love, too. Simply put: if your business has a digital footprint — which it absolutely should — don't leave any stone unturned! This is how you'll make an impact with the digital generation.


  • Track Leads
    Whether you plan to send out a direct mail piece, blast an email newsletter, or launch an SEM campaign, make sure every tactic you deploy to reach, engage, and drive potential customers to your business is trackable. You should always have clear proof as to which marketing tactics work — as well as which ones don't — to ensure your marketing budget never goes to waste. After all, there's no point putting effort into any kind of marketing without knowing how it's helping drive business growth. Period.


  • Get Personal 
    Small business owners understand the powerand value of providing personalized service, treating each customer as the most important person in the world. That philosophy must carry into your marketing. Every consumer is different; they have different wants, needs, and expectations as they go about their days. By providing a more personalized touch — whether it's small things like adding a customer's name in email messages or more complex tactics like providing customers with a PURL (personalized URL) that directs them to a personalized landing page — you begin to build trust and loyalty, which are both worth their weight in gold.


  • Target With Data
    If you don't have a verified prospect list with solid demographic data, you're shooting in the dark. Your direct marketing campaign will only be as effective as the data or the list you're working with. Imagine sending a direct mail piece for home health care to a millennial recipient. That's hardly the target audience, right? A partner like YP Marketing Solutions can provide you with a wealth of audience targeting tools, including advanced behavioral and demographic filters, to help connect you with the right local consumers.


  • Timing Is Everything  
    The greatest advantage of an integrated marketing campaign is the ability to follow consumers along their various purchase journeys, reaching them at different touch points as they go about their day. In essence, it's a foolproof way to ensure consumers never forget about your business. Think of it like planting the seed, adding fertilizer, and finally watching your plant grow. Just keep in mind that your target customers don't want to be bombarded either. So, be sure to sequence every part of your campaign to ensure that all the pieces work together nicely — and effectively.


The online and offline worlds don't have to be at odds. In fact, making them play nicely in the marketing sandbox could be your ticket to business growth. What are you waiting for? Visit YP Marketing Solutions to learn more about our tools for building integrated marketing campaigns that make a big impact.  

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Susan is the Content Marketing Manager for YP Marketing Solutions for local business. She graduated from Washington State University with a Master of Arts in Communications and has dedicated her career to learning the ever-changing field of digital marketing with an emphasis in content, SEM, and social media. You can connect with Susan on Linkedin.

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