Why Offline Remains Vital to Small Business Success

Getting a business up and running can be a chaotic but exciting time. There is often so much to think about as you look to build something from the ground up, from ensuring the availability of your products and services to informing the wider world that you’re open for business.

The latter is particularly important and, unsurprisingly, one of the fundamental issues that small businesses and entrepreneurs have to consider almost from the outset is just how they intend to market their offering. For many, of course, the most obvious route is to go digital with a number of online tools allowing them to compete on a relatively level playing field with larger competitors.

The power of digital

According to research compiled by IronPaper at the start of this year, around half of small businesses use social media to grow their operations, with the tactic being well ahead of the second and third-placed strategies of public relations (15%) or email marketing (8%). Even further down the list, however, were trade shows (3%) and hosted events (2%), which brings up the question: if SMEs are placing so much emphasis on online tools, do they even need to bother with getting out and about and promoting their services in the offline domain, too?

In the past, many companies tended to focus their time on offline advertising and networking to build up their operations and there is still evidence that meeting people face-to-face still has major benefits for organisations.

Going offline

Networking is still very important, and in-person networking makes you more memorable than reaching out over email or instant messaging. For example, as OnlinePrinters highlights, business cards can come in many different shapes and sizes these days and while they may seem like an old-school approach to business, they still pack a punch when handed to a potential new contact. According to research undertaken in the UK by DesignCrowd in 2014, 84 per cent of people still hand out the cards to new people they meet and – perhaps more importantly – 65 per cent of recipients tend to enter the details from them into a smartphone or add them to a Rolodex.

Of course, in order to hand out some cards you may need to attend a conference or event and while you may not initially be taken with the idea of trying to make friends among a group of strangers, many businesspeople still swear by the huge benefits that such seminars and forums can provide.

Writing for Forbes, Peter Tourian, CEO of in-home care franchise system Synergy HomeCare, outlined how such events offer people the chance to meet like-minded individuals and build a support network who may not only turn to you for advice but also be able to offer hints and tips on a range of matters in return.

A part to play

So while is it easy to get carried away with the need to get online and embrace digital marketing techniques to promote your organization, it is clear that the old-school method of getting out and meeting new contacts still has a part to play in business.

Online advertising is clearly vital, but spare some time to consider whether there are key events or networking opportunities which could help to take your company to the next level.