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Offline Marketing is Easy – When You Remember Your Business Cards!

Keller Hawthorne | June 22, 2009 | 4 Comments
Keller's Thoughts

My Mom and I promoting Theme Kitchen at a Craft Fair in 2007About six years ago, my parents bought a gorgeous little farm in the hell-and-gone hills of Northern California. Even though they have yet to retire, they’ve filled their plates with tons of countrified activities such as building bird feeders, making butter, growing vegetables, making beer and sewing tote bags and scarves. They sell their crafts and produce at a local farm store down the road. They also participate in farmers markets and craft festivals.

When my parents first notified me of their local marketing efforts, I eagerly planned how I could not only help, but possibly participate. I happen to have a little craft hobby of my own, so I’ve been lucky enough to join them at the festivals for the last 5 years where I’ve sold my own handmade jewelry.

In 2007, about 12 months after opening Theme Kitchen, my folks and I saw an opportunity for me to do a little offline marketing. We decided to set up a booth at the local markets for Theme Kitchen and offer salt and pepper sets from my collections. I quickly put together a little brochure and business cards for my store and got to work on signage.

My Dad built a cute little white shelving unit to display my goods and I decorated it with signage of my website address. The picture above is from one of the craft fairs we attended that summer.

Since then, we’ve made it an annual tradition to participate in the local festivals. This summer, my parents decided to try something new. They volunteered to take over the Brownsville Farmer’s Market! Being small business owners and entrepreneurs themselves, the market (started in 2008) would be their latest business venture. The town wouldn’t know what hit them.

My Dad has a strong marketing and sales background and my Mom (after a little tutoring from my Dad and I) has become one sharp saleswoman. With their love for business, this summer’s farmers market will far surpass last year’s in both number of vendors and foot traffic!

Father’s day weekend was the grand opening and of course I joined in on the festivities. I brought up some of my latest jewelry creations and set up a little spot for myself. Even though my particular goods are priced a little high for the farmer’s market audience, I was able to sell two of my pieces and a couple salt and pepper sets. Unfortunately, I forgot all of my marketing material! Note the lack of signage in the picture below…

My Mom, Grandma and me at the Farmers Market on Fathers Day Weekend 2009

My Mom, Grandma and me at the Farmer's Market on Father's Day Weekend 2009

The truth is, my target market isn’t in my parent’s town. Most of their community lacks computers or Internet. So, I’m not concerned about my lack of business cards. But, I was surprised to find out how much my parent’s OFFLINE marketing efforts pay off up there.

Through such marketing channels as business cards, ads in the local newspaper, displays at various farm stores, and signage, this weekend’s farmer’s market received more foot traffic then ever! My Mom has even become well known as the town’s “Butter Lady.”

I’ll be the first to admit I suck at offline marketing. Sure, I have NO PROBLEM chatting up strangers and offering my web marketing services, but I NEVER have business cards on me! So, why, as a self-made business owner, would I miss out on such a viable marketing channel?

  1. Laziness: That’s right, laziness. I might be obsessed with my work, but all of my energy is focused toward online marketing. When it comes to offline marketing, I get lazy.
  2. Resistance: Why would I resist a marketing opportunity? Well, with my type of business model, my efforts tend to be rewarded much better when applied online. I can’t help but feel like I’m wasting my time printing out business cards just in case I happen to get into a conversation with a woman in the supermarket who wants a theme kitchen.

I’m Wrong to Resist Offline Marketing

I wanted to write this post to tell all of you how wrong I am in resisting offline marketing. It’s not just about that one woman in the supermarket – it’s about the twelve other women she tells, who each tell 12 other women and so on.

Yes, my number one ranking in Google for the search term “kitchen décor” FAR SURPASSES this little offline marketing effort, but that doesn’t mean Google is the only marketing channel I should spend time on! I know better than that and yet, I’ve succumbed to offline marketing laziness.

Think about your own marketing efforts. Do you only market through search engines? Heck no! You most likely invest in advertising on related websites, submit your website to directories, perhaps indulge in a little article marketing, etc. So, if we know better than to put all of our marketing eggs in one basket, why would we restrict them to only online baskets?

My folks have built a great little farm business in a TINY little town. Their success relies on their offline marketing efforts, and it’s paid off. Yes, my audience is country-wide as opposed to a little community. But, it never hurts to reach out. At the VERY LEAST, I should have business cards on me at all times. Again, it wouldn’t hurt me to do so and may in fact increase sales or bring me a new web design client.

My bias toward online marketing, though seemingly “justifiable,” is not helping me. So, this post represents a reminder to myself as well as each of you that offline marketing still exists and still works!

Do You Pass Out Business Cards? Have a Bias Toward Online Marketing? Comment Below!

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