Marketing Challenge: Merging an Online and Offline Business

Usually, a business doesn’t just abandon one area, in this case online, because another site–brick-and-mortar stores–performs better. Imagine a race where one runner always wins. Does the runner finish the race as fast as possible? Most likely not. There’s still room for improvement.

If a retailer can find a method to encourage more customers to visit its bricks-and-mortar store, it could result in millions of dollars worth of revenue. Here are some tips from other readers.

This Week’s Problem

Two activities can help you to make your online presence more visible without neglecting your website:

The Web site can be tweaked

Two companies can be leveraged

The Web site can be tweaked. Mike Pearson, DTW’s senior new media designer, suggests adding a splash page to the area that will appear when visitors arrive. The splash page should only last 5-10 seconds and feature photos of the shop and a tagline such as “Buy online or in-store.”

You should be aware that many customers do not like splash pages. If you choose this option, make sure that you include a link to “skip introduction” that appears instantly.

The tweak could simply be adding a tagline indicating that you have a physical store. You can also offer discounts to customers who shop online and then visit a physical store. It is essential to let people know about your BMS via your website.

Use two presences

Anna Barcelos is the marketing director at Business Link International. She says adding a prefix to your name may be good, but don’t stop with it.

Show it! It could be a special promotion or a dedicated BMS page with coupons and photos. Take a page from the big online retailers and use your online and offline presence. Have a particular page on your website dedicated to your BMS with coupons and promotions that customers can only obtain by visiting the store. It also creates awareness of your online and offline presence.

It’s also an effective way to strategize: If you want to add a new product or have a sale on your site, consider how you can use it across BMS and the Web. If you think this way, your customers will too.

Consider your business a company with an online and offline presence. Consider the two to be one. Do the everyday marketing in your local area and tell those online about the BMS. Internet users are more likely to come from outside your locality than those living there.

Next Marketing Challenge: Can You Help

My company is an educational institution that has a modest marketing budget. Our competitor in the same region has a budget ten times bigger than ours.

I have created a referral system where a student receives $100 for referring a friend to enroll. We sent out press releases to local media. I have run out of ideas for marketing that cost little or nothing. What are some other low-cost strategies that work?

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