How Industrial Suppliers can promote their website off the Internet to increase traffic and sales opportunities
By Conrad Bailey
According to a survey conducted by IndustrialLeaders.com, most buyers today of industrial products use the Web to source for supplies, equipment and machinery. However, the same survey has showed that over 92% of industrial and technical buyers that log on-line to source for products or services have no particular supplier in mind.
Experienced online marketers understand how to reach these people when they go online via pay-per-click, targeted banner ads, relevant link building and other Web marketing methods. But the smartest marketers realize the best time to actually reach these buyers is offline. This gives them a significant advantage over their competitors that are in constant battle with one another for keywords, page rank, link popularity, etc. This article was written to give you the same competitive advantage.
Make Your Website The First Place They’ll Visit
Few internet marketers realize or will admit that promoting a website offline is just as important – and sometimes even more important than online. How you decide to promote your site off the Internet depends on your budget, needs, target market, industry and other criteria.
Nevertheless, the first important part of any offline promotion campaign is to take an inventory of the things in your office that can display and promote your website address, including:
· Media releases
· Brochures and catalogs
· Stationary (business cards, envelopes, letterheads, shipping labels, boxes, etc.)
· Ad specialties (calendars, pens, caps, t-shirts, mugs, etc).
· Newsletters, reports and white papers
· Every other marketing document or item you use to connect with prospects & customers.
Once you take that inventory, you need to keep in mind that no matter how many tools or resources you employ to promote your website, just presenting your web address is not going to do much. That’s because, not many people will visit a website without a convincing reason to do so. Thus, every time you advertise or display your website on anything, make sure it always carries a message that persuades people to visit your site.
I cannot overemphasize this importance. Look at it this way. If I say to you visit us at MyDomain.com. Are you going to take the time out of your busy schedule to visit? Not likely. With so many websites and the abundance of information available on the Web, you are probably not going to visit a site just because someone mentioned their URL address, at least not without some kind of incentive that’s part of the offer or message.
Promoting A Website Using Media Releases
I’m sure you’re smart enough to never send out a press releases without including your URL address. But again, even press releases must carry a message of ‘why’ the reader should visit your site. This requires some creative thinking because editors almost never publish press releases that sound like a sales offer. One way around that is to write a release that is solely intended to promote something new about your site or product line.
For example, your media release can be about a new product you’re now offering on your site, newly designed e-catalog, employee of the month featured, or even recent improvements made to your site. Or perhaps, a new segment on your website that benefits your customers with timely information, useful tools or environmental friendly resources. Indeed, press releases of such nature, mailed or faxed to local media sources, are more likely to get published. And when they do, better results can be expected because your web address will now include a compelling reason to visit your site.
Brochures & Catalogs
With the rising costs of paper and postage, traditional brochures and catalogs are getting more expensive to use as marketing documents. Because of this, many suppliers are moving their entire catalog to the Internet where distribution and production costs are minimal compared to the expense of printing and mailing a catalog.
Although going totally electronic is a wise decision for cost-cutting purposes, it’s still important that you continue to offer your brochure and/or catalog in both print and electronic versions. There will always be prospects that prefer good old ink and paper catalogs, and that’s a nice advantage to have over competitors that no longer offer them.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when promoting your website via traditional catalogs.
· Your web address should be on every page (top & bottom areas), not just on the cover like most catalogs;
· Give different reasons (real incentives) throughout the catalog to visit your website (e.g. Visit Here To See Today’s Specials; Go Here To Get A Free Gift; etc.);
· The back of your catalog should include your website’s ‘Main Menu’ or ‘Site Map’ describing the most important pages of your site along with its url address;
· In addition your phone number, the inner-back or inner-front cover of your catalog should include the email addresses of your customer service and sales departments. Why? Because some people prefer sending RFQ’s via email rather than dealing with the possibility of a pushy salesperson.
· Your catalog can even have a ‘Bargain Page’ that ties into your website. Just provide the url address on the cover, where it will get the most exposure, so prospects and customers can get instant information about the latest bargains you are offering.
Promoting Your Website Via Catalogs Does Not Have To Be Expensive
As you know, cost is a major issue when it comes to printing and mailing catalogs and brochures.
You can cut costs by using fewer colors and lighter paper, but the cost can still add up even if you take the cheapest route.
If you already have a good number of catalogs or brochures in stock, you can affix ‘promotional labels’ on the front and back covers that carry your marketing message, along with your website’s address. Labels are extremely versatile because they can be used to promote different specials you are offering at anytime. It’s a great way to test different offers with prospects… without the high cost of printing additional pieces. The right labels, if designed fittingly, can really stand out and make the reader take notice.
Use Stationary To Promote Your Website
Do you have business stationary? Business cards? Letterhead? Envelopes? Shipping labels? Is your URL address presented on these items? Does your website address include a benefit or incentive for visiting? If not, why not? However you slice it, every item you use to connect with your prospect that does not carry your web address, and a reason for visiting, is wasting some fraction of your money.
When it comes to promoting your site using stationary, due to lack of space, your message should focus on the biggest benefit your company offers. This is especially true on your letterhead and envelopes where there is limited space.
One exception is your business card where you have the space to promote your website in much more client-centered detail. Indeed, business cards integrated with your website are like mini-billboards advertising your company and products all year long.
One of the best business cards I have ever seen was from a Steel & Iron Company. The front of the card had the standard black ink on white stock design and a basic layout. But at the bottom of the card, in bold text, it read, “Flip over to visit us.” There, on the back of the card the company listed the web address to its Home Page, Catalog, Rebate Section, About Us and Company Profile page.
The card was so well done, I just had to call the company to ask them about it. To shorten the story, I was forwarded to the sales manager, and according to him, the card was designed by a marketing consultant agency in California. And it receives a lot of good feedback from customers and prospects praising how clever and useful the card was. Need I said more?
A lot of industrial suppliers at one time or another have used promotional items to advertise their company logo. Now, shrewdly I may add, more of them are using these pens, calendars, t-shirts, mugs, caps and other items to also promote their website.
Most ad specialties however still have nothing on it but a company logo. I suppose the advertiser is hoping it will increase awareness or generate some publicity when the items are giving away as premiums. But unfortunately, other than spawning some goodwill with the ones that received these gifts, it’s difficult to accurately measure the results in terms of actual sales.
Now I ask you, if you saw a baseball cap with a company’s logo imprinted on it, what would you think? What would you do? What would you remember? The answer to all three of these questions, 9 out of 10 times would be, Nothing!
In contrast, if the same baseball cap also included the company’s web address along with an incentive for you to visit the site. Well, now you will probably be interested, and you just might at least want to remember that address to visit later. Especially if the site was relevant to something you or your company needs.
The best advertising specialties to purchase and giveaway are wearables such as hats, t-shirts, caps, jackets, golf shirts, etc. That’s because of the exposure they generate since they are “mobile advertisements.” Wearables that display your web address can increase traffic to your site, generate sales leads, publicity, word-of-mouth and build awareness of company’s capabilities..
Newsletters, Reports and White Papers
If you publish a traditional ink and paper newsletter, white paper or report, whether it be weekly, monthly or annually, be sure to dedicate a portion of each issue to promote your website. That can be done in a number of ways and through various formats. Newsletters, reports and white papers are premier tools to promote your website. They allow you to keep each prospect and customer informed, and remind them to stop by your site and see the latest client-centered benefits.
Last Words About Promoting Your Website Outside The Internet
Every manufacturer and supplier has to invest money, sometime lots of money to promote their products, whether it be online, offline or both. Unfortunately, much of what is spent often does nothing to recoup the investment in terms of increased sales, profit and company growth. That is why you must integrate your website with multiple mediums to increase your company’s exposure on the Internet, and improve effectiveness through the power of unity.
You see, the Internet, although will be much different ten years from now, it is undeniably here to stay and it’s only going to spread wider, impact more people and become increasingly important to employ. Make sure you position your website to grow for the long haul. Following the advice in this article, and using the resources it provides, is a great start – but it’s just the beginning until you put the actual ideas into action. I hope you do that.
About The Author :
Conrad Bailey is co-founder and vice president of http://www.IndustrialLeaders.com,
an Industrial Supply Trade Portal for engineers and other industrial & technical buyers.