It seems like every business success story told today has the letter “e” in front of it. E-business success. E-commerce success. E-tail success.
But long before the letter “e” was hijacked by the online world, businesses seemed to operate (successfully) without the Internet. It’s hard to believe but many profitable enterprises grew from good, old-fashioned marketing efforts.
If your business plan currently focuses on your online efforts, perhaps it’s time to revisit that plan and see if you don’t want to consider taking it offline.
Why would I want to take my business offline?
- Moving your business offline definitely serves a different niche. It’s possible, if you’re an online entrepreneur, that everyone you know is wired in all the time. (Most of my colleagues trend that way, too). But there’s a whole group of people – regular folk – who don’t yet spend their days and nights online. They have money and they have needs, just like your current “e-customers” but they simply don’t thrive online for whatever reason. An offline move could pick up a huge group of customers who never existed for you before.
- Moving your business offline may improve customer loyalty. When you go from e-tail to retail, you have a physical presence. Although I haven’t seen any studies as such, I can attest from person experience that offline stores seem to have my loyalty far more than most online stores. Perhaps it’s the constant reminder that they exist when I drive past their building or maybe it’s because the personal touch still lacks in many e-businesses. Whatever the reason, your offline business will have loyalty that you simply don’t get online.
- Moving your business offline improves customer recognition. I was shopping on a website not too long ago and when I was asked to use my email address to create an account, I was surprised to discover I had shopped there before. I buy enough stuff online that I didn’t even know that! And, if you were to ask me where I shop for something, I’m more likely to tell you the places offline. simply because I can remember their names far more readily than the online stores that sell the same product.
How do I take my business offline?
- Being offline doesn’t necessarily mean a storefront. Remember other ideas, like network marketing or flea markets or the home party format. Any of those may be better for your product or service.
- You can still advertise online, you just have to be targeted better. Create coupons that people can print and bring into your store or advertise on Google Local (which is a Pay-Per-Click ad that is tied to a map of your town).
- It all starts with having a solid business plan in place that forces you to think through the pros and cons before making this major decision.
Things to be cautious of
- The offline world moves far more slowly than the online world. You may find it very frustrating, but it’s a good check-and-balance so that you don’t take any false steps along the way.
- It can be expensive. Instead of a one-person show, you may now face employee health benefits, overhead expenses, and inventory stockpiling. Still, the potential profits could outweigh those threats.