Remember when ranking well in search was 1. easy 2. effective for your business and 3. super cheap? And then came Google’s algorithm updates that destroyed cheap SEO because marketers had to start acting like people again instead of algorithm-dodging robots.
Ranking well can be great if your website has a strong conversion strategy in place, but as we know, ranking well isn’t everything. Here are four relatively easy and inexpensive ways that I encourage all our clients to market themselves offline to help build online visibility. Note: Natalie wrote this post when New Why was part of Commerce Kitchen, but we wanted to roll it on over here, too!
1. Hosting an event is fun
Hosting an event can be easy and cheap, or it can be incredibly difficult and expensive. We’ve hosted both kinds of events here at Commerce Kitchen, and they’ve both been valuable.
In early 2013 we hosted an open house for all our clients, friends, and neighbors. We got a food truck to cater, had plenty of beer and wine, and had a great turnout.
Last month we hosted an event called Built in Brews that brought out tons of people from the startup community to network, shmooze, eat Illegal Pete’s, and vote on their favorite cocktails.
Both of those events were expensive, involving caterers, lots of drinks, and marketing materials like banners, postcards, etc.
We also host weekly Wine Fridays, where we invite friends, potential employees, and clients to come drink wine with us at the end of the day. It’s much less expensive, but also smaller scale than the big parties.
At Wine Fridays we never have more than four or five guests at once, but it gives us the chance to talk with each of them in depth, rather than trying to network with 100 drunk startup employees.
You can host something small or large, or some of each, but being a good host shows your community that you like to provide them with a place to socialize, have fun, and get to know people without there being a sales pitch involved.
For each of these events there were dozens of people who checked in and posted photos on social, tweeted about us, and blogged about the event. All of these things were great for brand exposure.
2. Supporting nonprofits is fun
A few months ago we launched a social media contest for the best photo of an office dog. We are big fans of office dogs; we have anywhere from two to four dogs hanging out at the Firehouse every day. We asked local businesses to submit photos of their dogs, and we agreed to donate $1 for every vote cast.
The money went to Freedom Service Dogs, a wonderful nonprofit that trains shelter dogs to be service animals.
After we made our donation, two volunteers from the organization came out to show us one of their dogs-in-training.
It was so cool to see the dog in action, and the photo contest itself generated brand awareness while doing something good for the community.
Next month Commerce Kitchen’s staff is heading out to Zuma’s Horse Rescue to volunteer. While we don’t have a plan on how to harness this into a marketing effort, we don’t really need one.
We’re excited to check out what they do and hope we can contribute.
Don’t be afraid or modest about talking about supporting the nonprofits that you support; these organizations need community assistance to survive, and they will almost always be happy to give you a shout back on social media or their blog.
3. Joining an alumni group is fun
If you went to college, chances are there’s an alumni group in your city that you can join. Michelle and I recently hung out with some local Reed College graduates, including a former Colorado Supreme Court justice.
We ate some insanely good chile rellenos and talked about life in Denver, Shakespeare, and our kids. It was a fabulously fun evening, and we made some great connections for ourselves and for Commerce Kitchen.
Alumni want to help each other. The sense of camaraderie that alumni have for each other is unique. While you may have gone to college in an entirely different decade, there’s still the feeling that you went through something together.
While attending these events won’t necessarily result in a measurable online marketing boost, connecting with others that you have something in common with will still help your business in the long-run through referrals.
4. Giving gifts is fun
I love giving gifts. I love picking out just the right thing for someone, knowing that it’ll make them feel good. I feel this way about giving gifts to my friends, my daughter, and our clients.
One of the CK partners bought a home last year using this Denver realtor, and as a thank you the realtor sent her a bottle of wine every month, for an entire year. Needless to say, when it was time for me to buy a house last month, I chose Red Door to help me.
While the wine wasn’t the only reason I chose to work with her (she is seriously awesome), it certainly helped keep her on the top of our collective Commerce Kitchen mind all year.
Do this! Make sure you’re always on your clients’ minds. Even if you don’t expect more business from that one client, referrals are incredibly powerful. You can also send fun and interesting gifts to bloggers and other influential online voices who may be likely to post about it.
These shouldn’t be done as bribes, obviously. Before you decide to do something like this make sure you’re doing it for the good of it, even if you get nothing out of it. It’s highly likely that it will benefit you in the end, but if that’s your only goal then it’s not worth it.
These four things are much more fun than keyword research and Adwords monitoring (I can say that, I do keyword research and Adwords monitoring every day), and they will complement your other marketing efforts.