Why Online and Offline Strategy is the Best Marketing Mix for Small Businesses
Why Online and Offline Strategy is the Right Marketing Mix for Small Businesses?
Marketing has been an integral part of business development since the time people used to barter their goods. First it was word-of-mouth, then with the advent of machines, print media took hold. Advertising and commercials soon jumped in and over the past three decades online marketing has taken over the picture.
Today, marketing is the perfect example of organized chaos. So how to make sense of what is the best marketing strategy for your business?
Large-scale MNC’s swear by online marketing, as they are focused on building their brand. Small-scale industries rely primarily on offline strategies, like word-of-mouth publicity, as their budgets are tighter. The objectives of the company/independent entrepreneur as well as their spending capacity drive the marketing strategy adopted.
But it does not have to be so black and white. As a matter of fact, the best marketing strategies are those who have a balanced mix of online and offline methods. How? Why? Let’s see!
Comparing Online and Offline Marketing
Online marketing involves using marketing techniques like social media platforms, Google ads, PPC, etc. for building an audience for your brand. These strategies have developed rapidly in the past few years, with the growth of smartphone usage. A recent study by Statista showed that there were 299.24 million smartphone users in India in 2017 and this number is expected to increase to 442.5 million by 2022!
Offline marketing involves reaching out to your local audience through the newspapers, television, radio, emails, etc. These are used to connect to the audience at a personal level, and can create an emotional attachment better than online media.
Let us compare both forms of marketing to get a clearer idea.
Advantages of Online Marketing
- Widespread Reach
Online media platforms are used by nearly every person of the 21st century. Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram accounts are universal, from 12-year-old kids to 70-year-old grandparents. This is a diverse audience which is unique only to online marketing.
Most millennials, i.e. people in the age group of 18-25, prefer to watch online videos or read e-newspapers to keep up with the news. Quite a lot of them never watch live shows on television but prefer to keep up with their favourite soaps through streaming sites like Hotstar or Netflix.
This audience holds great potential for marketing opportunities for businesses, which if used intelligently can make the campaign go viral.
- Low Cost
One of the primary advantages of online marketing is that the cost of investment is significantly less than offline media, and the reach is much larger. This can be very helpful for small businesses and solopreneurs who have a small marketing budget.
- Effective Networking
Networking becomes a breeze with social media, as influencers and peer groups can be found easily on online platforms. Connecting to such groups gives home entrepreneurs a lot of relevant leads, paving the way for effective business development.
- Targeted Audience
Diving into the sea of online marketing can be much easier for small businesses as they have the option to pick and choose the type of audience they want to reach. Creating and reaching out to a niche audience makes lead generation and PR much faster and helps increase their return on investment. Quality over quantity is the major advantage here, which is not always guaranteed by offline media.
- Global Presence
Geographical boundaries and time-zone issues become non-existent for online marketing as the platforms all have a global reach. Pitching a client, or conducting a webinar to showcase your expertise can be done from the comfort of your home even if the client is hundreds of miles away. People offering e-learning courses can upload their lectures online, which can be followed by students according to their pace and convenience. Later, when they know your expertise, reaching out for further courses is just a matter of visiting your website.
- Convenient and Easy Customer Service
Quick connectivity and reduced turnaround time are the two advantages of the internet. This facilitates quick customer service, which is the most important requirement for any business. Customers have a dedicated online address to express their feedback, positive and negative, and are assured of a response to their complaints within the shortest possible time. This builds customer loyalty and creates consistent leads for the company.
Having said that, there are some significant advantages of offline marketing as well. Here are a few of those.
Advantages of Offline Marketing
- Building Credibility is Easier
Online platforms are initially a little difficult to trust, since they do not have an actual face. The recent rise in cybercrime, fake companies, and false schemes has made people extremely wary of trusting online services. There are ways to overcome this, but building that credibility over the internet takes a long time.
Offline media, on the other hand, is considered a verified source of information. People are more inclined to trust what they see on the TV or hear on the radio because they know there is an actual voice behind the advertisement. In a country like India, newspapers are still an important part of daily life for the older generations and they have a high degree of faith in the products advertised there. This leads to enhanced credibility.
- Increase in Online Noise
There is a tremendous amount of content being pushed out on the internet every day. In addition, the competition is intense, with numerous vendors vying for the customers’ attention. Making your voice heard amongst all this crowd is extremely difficult, unless you have a strong strategy in place.
Offline media gives you the guarantee of dedicated reach. The number of subscribers, listeners, or viewers shows fixed statistical data of the number of people who have seen the advertisement.
Finding the Right Strategy that Works for the Business – Integrating Online and Offline Marketing
Reaching out to your audience takes a solid marketing approach. Posting occasionally on Facebook or tweeting about your product is like shooting random arrows in the dark, you can merely hope it hits the bulls eye.
Instead, it is better to integrate online and offline marketing strategies to leverage the advantages of both. The solopreneur can use a mixed strategy to achieve best marketing results. For instance, if you are participating in a local exhibition, you can build an online campaign around its promotion, supplemented by reinforcement from print media.
People can be encouraged to participate in the event by posting selfies with your products and adding the specific hashtags. An excellent example of this is the campaign by Indiana University, who added the hashtag #IUsaidYes on all their acceptance envelopes. Accepted students posted admittances online with the envelopes, making the campaign go viral!
The advantage of integrating the two methods is that small businesses can achieve high marketing exposure within limited cost. A combined strategy can give home entrepreneurs the best of both, provided they analyse their audience and create the strategy accordingly.
Getting the help of professional marketers can help small businesses here, as they can create the appropriate marketing strategy after studying the objectives of the company.
What is your take on combining online and offline marketing strategies for your business? Let us know in the comments section below!