The connection between online and ‘real life’…

… and how you can make it work for you.

Life is more than what’s online.  Business is more than what’s online.  Whilst technology has and does enable communication and lots of other good things, there is still infinitely more to life than what’s online.

But with all the rhetoric, advice and focus on the internet and the amazing things it can achieve for us, one could almost think sometimes that ‘online’ is the panacea.  Which leaves me a little bit sad.  Because it’s not.

Why am I saying this?

I had a conversation back in July with a long-time client, a pension change specialist.  We were talking about how she could make more use of her website.  The conclusion we came to, after discussing the type of client she works with and is targeting, and the way in which they buy, was that rather than putting all her focus on search engine optimisation, she would be better off using her website to support the ‘real-life’ marketing and networking that she was doing.  Because her work involves a high level of commitment from the client – both as regards finance and trust – her clients are far more likely to buy on recommendation, ‘friend of a friend’, than they are to search via Google.

So did this mean that the website should fall by the wayside?  Certainly not!  But what this gave us was a focus for our thoughts/efforts.  It opened up an opportunity – an opportunity to use the website to compliment and specifically follow up on some of the offline marketing and networking that my client would be doing.  And no, I don’t just mean giving the website address out to people.  Here were some of the ideas we brainstormed:

  • Seminar talks – as an expert in her field, my client has the potential to give talks/advice at seminars & other events.  So we discussed creating a page/post with downloads, together with some clear calls to action/credibility reinforcing stuff.  The nice thing is that people would have already seen my client talk & been impressed… so the hard job of creating that initial impression/trust is done.  And if anyone stumbled across this page via Google et al, then so much the better – the fact that she’s been giving talks immediately raises credibility.
  • Newsletter signup – this is linked to the above point (a newsletter signup form would likely feature on a page like that outlined above).  But newsletter signup doesn’t have to take place online.  Seminars, networking and other events are all great events at which to ask people to write down their email address to receive regular, useful advice and information.  Notice though the emphasis on a) ask, and b) useful.  You then obviously use your newsletter to drive traffic to your website, and to maintain contact with potential clients – staying at the forefront of people’s minds.
  • Publications – writing in industry publications is a great way to obtain exposure.  But rather than the ‘biog’ box of the article just containing a link to your website home page, why not create a specific page on your website, following up on what you’ve said in your article.  In the offline article, ask people to comment.
  • Networking – if you attend networking regularly, you’ll know how many business cards – all with websites on – that you end up with.  Think how much likely people might be to go and look at your website, if you handed them a piece of paper with a short intro into a subject that was current & relevant to them, and then a straightforward link to the page on the website where they could find out more & comment.  An example for me would be with the recent cookie law – printing out some very top level information, and having a link (or QR code perhaps) to my website with more info.

These are all just examples, but you’ll notice a common theme – creating specific content targeted at specific offline audiences/events.

Now don’t just go away and think “Great, sounds like a good idea but… ”.  Spend a minute or two thinking about what you do, and how you can use your website to follow up on that.

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