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This post is part of the #JUMPchallenge, a blogging competition designed to raise awareness of how to join up online and offline marketing, launched to support Econsultancy’s JUMP event.

In this entry, taken from the JupiterJasper blog, Bronwyn Durand looks at the issue of joined up marketing from a small business perspective... 

Marketing a small business can be really tough. Finding the resources, time and know-how is not easy. So you may well be thinking ‘I’m happy I have any marketing at all, let alone worrying about whether it is all joined up’.

However, small businesses can gain competitive advantage over rivals by simply marketing more effectively. And this can be achieved by applying some joined up marketing thinking. Joined up marketing is a way of tying all of your online and offline marketing efforts together to best serve your goals and reach your target audience clearly. 

SMEs need to use different kinds of marketing to speak to customers and lead them into a sale or closer relationship, by connecting with them through a consistent message, and allowing each bit of marketing to work in partnership with the others. 

Here are some tips on integrating online and offline marketing for small businesses

Define the purpose of your website

Your website can become a central part of integrating your marketing. It is more cost efficient to change frequently, and you can use it to:

  • Educate visitors about your product and business in greater detail  by providing full specifications, case studies or simply photographs. This means you what you give offline can be concise and to the point, inviting them to interact for more detail, and your site could again invite them to be contacted by a representative to discuss your needs.
  • Direct traffic - drive lead prospects to your website from offline marketing, or even your business card.
  • Analyse. With the right tools in place, your website gives you visibility of which offline activities are generating interest or encouraging people to act, assuming that you direct them to the website.

    You may even learn what people most need to know about by interacting online, which is very useful for your sales people in dealing face to face. Watching behaviour can teach you a lot about why people will and won’t buy from you.

  • Learn - ask prospects and customers questions. Find our what they think about your business and what their needs are. Follow up with email giving them the right information, or addressing their concerns. Invite them to sample your product, or give them a discount on entry to an exhibition where you will exhibit.

Be consistent with your branding and business messages

Consistency will mean that your ideal customer can recognise all parts of your joined up marketing. Make sure you are giving the same message to customers, regardless of the channel used. 

Make sure your employees are in on it

Staff can be a hugely under-utilised marketing resource, forgetting to update and enthuse your employees about your marketing efforts will certainly stop your joined up marketing in its tracks.

Use different channels to create an experience of your business

  • Blog - use it to demonstrate different aspects of your business – you can draw attention to your strengths, demonstrate how well you perform, present case studies in a more personable way, or simply show the range of your expertise. It’s useful for creating brand associations, dealing in opinion and creating a platform for an audience to interact.
  • Social media - use it for great customer service, to answer questions, reach your ideal customer, or in fact to deepen a relationship with someone you met at a networking event, or the other way around – go to a tweetup.
  • Customer service and back-office – make every interaction with your customer have a marketing mindset, even if the purpose is simply to make the customer happier. Make a promotional space on your invoice to present your special offer, or talk about a new feature on your website. Fix complaints via Twitter. If you dare.
  • Face to face – Networking can be integrated with a great, personalised, ‘nice to meet you’ email. Your sales team can use your website’s product videos to demonstrate your product, LinkedIn can support your credentials in a meeting. A workshop can be recorded and repackaged as an online showreel or freebie to encourage newsletter signups.
  • Email – Make newsletters that people like to read, and have them link to appropriate landing pages.
  • SMS – Do a limited time offer on a landing page that you publicise through an SMS message to opted in customers.

Make sure what you do is appropriate for your target market

It’s all too easy to get carried away with a great idea for a joined up campaign, but if it doesn’t reach the right audience, there really is little point.

This is one of the entries in the JUMP blogging challenge, and we're looking for more bloggers to contribute by posting an article. The closing date for entries is September 17. 

The winner will receive a 'blogging hamper', which includes an iPad, a press pass to JUMP, free Econsultancy membership, some strawberry jam and more. More details here

Graham Charlton

Published 14 September, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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