5 In-Person Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

The marketing mix has gone online, with businesses putting more of their focus than ever into social media, SEO and online content.

With this focus on the digital world, a lot of traditional marketing methods have taken a backseat and are often overlooked altogether.

While print, radio and television still have a small part in some marketing plans, most businesses aren’t thinking about in-person marketing much at all.

However, for a small business, in-person marketing can be a low budget but effective method to attract customers, and get your brand out there into the public eye. 

1. Hosting Events And Networking

Even if you’re completely offline, you can do some excellent social networking.

Attending local and industry networking events to meet other business people who may become useful contacts is a good start.

Networking can be useful to meet potential clients or to meet useful contacts to provide services to you too. You can use these events to showcase your brand too.

Look for networking like industry events, or send your team to events tailored to them (for example, events for marketing professionals or women in business).

Industry specific events can be useful to meet your competition and find out a bit about what they’re doing. You might be able to learn something useful too.

Don’t dismiss local events that are open to all too. You might find someone very useful.

For example, if you need a company to build your website, you may well meet someone who can do the job at a networking event. You might also find that you offer the service that someone else is looking for too when you meet them in this way. 

If there isn’t a suitable networking event near you, host your own. Advertise on local business groups or on Facebook, and find a space in a local bar or cafe to meet for a very low cost to you.

Put on some snacks, and offer a welcome drink. You could start by having a speaker from your own office, then invite other speakers from other companies who attend. Allow some time for people to mingle and network informally.

Make sure you get a business card from all the attendees for yourself too, so you can find the details of anyone useful that you meet. 

Trade shows are also a great option for networking.

Invest in a display solution, like an event tent, to show off your branding and use the show to do some valuable networking, competitor research and showcasing of your products or services.

Demonstrate your products, run giveaways and make a list of other show attendees that you want to meet because you think you could do business together. Take your best employees to really show off the best of your business. 

2. Hand Written Notes

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A personal touch can still go a long way when trying to lock down potential new clients or building loyalty with existing customers.

For small businesses, you could try sending a handwritten note to say thank you to customers when you can.

Personal attention like this feels much more special than mass marketing. A personal note can be more effective than just sending out carbon copied emails or tweets. 

This could be as simple as including a hand-written in the parcel when you ship out products to thank your customer for shopping with you, or sending a note to a new client when they sign up to your services.

Include a voucher for money off next time for especially loyal customers, and add a note thanking them for their repeat business.

Letting these customers who repeatedly spend money with you know that you have noticed their loyalty and are grateful for it will make them feel good, and encourage more loyalty in future.

If you’re lucky, they might even start promoting you to their friends, telling them what good, personal service you offer.

3. Referral Incentives

When you have a loyal customer base, you should use them to drive more business.

You can always just hope that your customers will be using word of mouth for you and telling people how good your business is, but to make sure they do this, offer referral incentives. If they drive business to your shop, or recommend you to a friend, offer an incentive like a discount on their next purchase. 

If you have a physical store, add a note on your receipts about referral incentives. Chat to your customers at the till about it.

You could also let your customers know they’re appreciated by inviting them to in-store events and let them bring friends to that. Offer a discount for items bought on the night to encourage people to shop. 

4. Speaking Events And Workshops

Find opportunities for you or your leadership team to speak at lectures or other events. Many networking events have a monthly speaker to share their area of expertise, whether it’s using Pinterest for marketing, or tips for handling your accounts.

Express your interest with the organisers so they know you’d like to speak. This can be a great way to advertise what you do and why you’re the best choice, in a way that is actually useful to the listener. 

You could also arrange some workshop classes to show off your skills. Both methods are good ways to become established as an expert in your field, making you the go-to, and attracting more customers. 

5. Publicity Stunts

A well planned publicity stunt can be a low budget way to get a lot of attention very quickly, but this approach should be taken very carefully.

A successful stunt needs to be very carefully aimed at your target marketing, get attention and have a message to get across. 

Do something unexpected with your advertising, like Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, poke fun at a competitor, try to break a world record that is relevant to your product or hijack a local event.

Be careful though, as a stunt that goes wrong or is badly received can receive a lot of negative attention that can really damage your reputation. 

If you aren’t sure how a stunt will be received, don’t risk it. Plan carefully, and be sure of what you’re doing.