Are you satisfied with digital being the front and center of your publicity campaigns, or do you crave for more? How about a compelling offline presence to attract new customers in the real world and then drive them to your online course? Much needed, right?
So many of us are dependent on online marketing today that it’s all too easy to forget about the good-old, tried-and-true offline marketing tactics to spread the word about a business. It’s as if offline marketing is headed down the path of dinosaur extinction.
But most successful business owners disagree. And rightly so.
Cuz let’s face it, we may not be out of the woods yet, but the pandemic is not going to last forever. And not everything can be accomplished using a laptop. So, fat chance that the more physical, human-touch based advertising forms like guest lectures and meetups will go out of fashion.
In fact, pamphlets, banners, print media, movie theaters ads, etc., will also continue to be just as effective at drumming up attention once things return to normal. We hang out where we hang out. No changing that, right?
So, yeah, if you’ve been toying with the idea of shutting down your brick and mortar operations, think again. An offline presence might just be the missing tool in your sales arsenal.
To that end, here are five bullet-proof offline tactics for you to leverage your digital and real-life persona and boost course sales.
But first, secure your marketing efforts with these two preliminary steps:
A) Make sure to first test your target market online
Have you made significant progress in building your brand online? Is your audience receptive to you? Have you made enough course sales?
If your answer to the above is yes, it’s safe to say you’ll find success with building an offline presence as well. If not, you might as well be investing time and money to reach out to a bunch of crickets.
The bottom line is, you can’t build an offline market if you haven’t seen growth online.
Pretty much the first thing students will ask you if you approach them with your business offering is, “do you have a website where we can find you?”
Yes, the proof of your existence and authority, what we refer to as the calling card of the digital age — a website.
If you don’t even have that to showcase your product offerings, rest assured, students will walk away and never think of you again.
So, a word of advice — eliminate the risk of failure by testing your market online first. In short, let your online course sales confirm if your audience is receptive enough to your brand to willingly invest in any offline events or meetups you might organize.
B) Build online history as an authority for your brand
It sure doesn’t hurt to have established a decent online presence before you attack a segment of your target market offline.
It could be live streaming events you’ve participated in, Q/As you may have organized, blogs you’ve written, influential personalities you’ve shared screen space with, driven engagement on your channels — basically any trust-building exercise that may have helped cement your footing online.
Mind you, you need that groundwork to succeed in creating an online presence.
So, if you have the backing of an online history that establishes you as an authority figure and thought leader per se (someone people turn to and pay attention to), by all means, let’s break into the offline landscape with your stellar online course!
With that, onto the five killer tactics to spread the news of your course in your local area, and lend you a bump in your overall sales.
1. Organize engaging niche-based meetups
When building a brand we are talking about, very few methods are as effective as Meetup.com — the tried-and-true online platform for organising meetups with people who share common interests and pain points.
Go on, do a Google search. You will be directed to numerous, exciting niche-specific local events taking place around you right now!
And we aren’t just referring to physical meetups, by the way. Zoom live streams, training workshops, and other face-to-face live sessions are exceedingly common as well.
If you are a seasoned course seller or simply do business locally, you’ve probably already been harnessing the power of Meetup.com to organize niche-based events to build an offline presence.
It is an excellent low-cost approach for getting in front of potential customers, introducing them to your services, and building long-lasting relationships.
There already are tens of thousands of groups engaging users in activities of their interests. Hell, there are even groups for introverts looking to meet other introverts to bond and spark new friendships! For instance, the Canadian group, Extremely Shy – Looking for Friends has over 36,000 members who actively participate in exciting events to make new friends.
So, if you look it up, chances are, you’ll find a local presence for whatever your course is centered around as well.
In any case, whether you are brand new to the coaching business or have been running publicity campaigns and are just looking to scale your business, Meetup.com should find a place on top of your “must-do” list for building an empowering offline presence that leads to course sales.
All you have to do is, find or build a group for people with niche interests and arrange for a casual meet-up to engage in an enlightening conversation over tea or coffee.
Either that or organize a workshop or training class, for which you can take payments by offering signups directly through Meetup – We are what we do .
Once you get people through the door, you have a chance to get them to know you and your company.
For instance, if you teach a health and wellness class centered around yoga and meditation, you can organize an open house at a beautiful, sunlit location to bring together yoga enthusiasts, teachers and students, to engage in a yoga class. Whether it would be free or paid is up to you.
You can even organize fun activities and competitions and offer exciting prizes, gift cards, or discounts to drive engagement.
What’s more, if you can host a successful meet-up, it could become a signature festival for you to conduct annually, one people would look forward to and prepare for!
For instance, the online fitness brand FITTR organizes an annual fitness festival called Connect in Goa to reward its members for their incredible fitness journey and invite health sciences enthusiasts to participate in competitive sports.
Sounds swell, doesn’t it? Wondering how you can get aboard?
Well, it’s simple. There are two ways to go about it:
(i) Find a niche event near you and attend it
Let’s say you have a martial arts course and are looking to market it at niche events in Mumbai.
Visit Meetup.com, and type your keywords. Here are the results that follow:
Pin-point the events that suit your schedule and host your target audience.
You can then reach out to group owners and offer to speak on subjects that would interest the attendees. This way, you have the opportunity to establish yourself as a thought leader and pitch your course to potential buyers. As in, “If you would like to gain more knowledge on the subject, check out my best-selling course on Example Domain .”
Not too complicated, right?
(ii) Create a niche-specific group of your own
This is so you can host a workshop or a training session of educational value to potential customers. It would essentially be to spread awareness about your course, which you offer as a solution to address their pain points, thus driving course sales.
Bear in mind, meetups are not your ticket to push course sales. They are a brand-building exercise or an opportunity for you to leave a mark in the offline landscape. So, treat it as such.
So, look for ways to engage your crowds on a visceral level. You can even cover a broader topic of discussion in your niche to target a large crowd—for example, a workshop on setting up a home business or developing leadership skills.
This is how you go about it:
Step 1: Begin with setting the location of the people you wish to engage with:
Step 2: Select the interests you are targeting. Let’s say you wish to attract people in the “vacation” category. Go ahead and type “vacations.”
Step 3: Once you do that, select an appropriate name for your group which people can easily come by:
Step 4: Add a catchy description describing the purpose of your group, who it is for, what kind of events you’ll hold, and more.
Step 5: Following this, you will be asked to review Meetup’s guidelines and register your Meetup account.
Ta-da! Now that you have a group of your own on Meetup, let potential customers find you.
Attract them by organising fun events and meetups they’ll be interested in — be it weekly or monthly training workshops, day or night classes, or popular personalities to speak at your events to get things going.
You can even host a simple, relaxing get-together to exchange talks over free lunch and live music. There’s nothing as rejuvenating as a real-world meet-up with like-minded people where you engage in fun and chatter over food. Even introverts will agree to that.
Even if you don’t have events to organize, we recommend you create an account anyway. Give your audience a chance to find you.
Psst.. link your Meetup account to your social media platforms to keep ’em coming from all directions.
2. Jump on opportunities to speak at networking events
Anytime an opportunity to speak at conferences, seminars, group gatherings, institutes and universities presents itself, jump on it!
You may have to wait patiently with your ear to the ground and actively look for opportunities, but it is the quick-fire way to get recognized as an industry leader.
What’s really worthwhile about such gigs is that you don’t just establish yourself as a credible expert; it’s also an achievement to add to your portfolio, which works like a “vote of confidence” for students to sign up for your course.
The best part? You don’t actually need to prepare your presentation or speech. You probably already have plenty of material to deliver a gripping talk.
So, how do you locate stand-out networking events to drive publicity for your course?
Well, if you are looking for big-ticket events, look within your industry.
No matter what niche you belong to, there will always be prestigious bodies that organize seminars and conferences to contribute to the success and progress of their industry.
For instance, if you teach a computer science and electronics course, you can submit your work to Springer’s or AIEEE. If selected, you’ll be offered an opportunity to speak at conferences at different locations.
Or, since course creators are part of the education sector, you can also look for any guest lecture opportunities UNESCO might put out. A simple Google search will tell you about it.
Provide your contact details on relevant platforms, so organizers of such conferences and seminars know where to reach you. This also means keeping your Twitter, LinkedIn profiles updated.
In case you decide to go looking for local networking events yourself, Google can help you out. For example, enter “digital marketing conferences in 2021.” Voila! There you have the details of noteworthy digital marketing events around you.
each out to them to enquire about any opportunities they might have for you.
This is where the online history we talked about earlier will prove useful. Start with expressing interest in speaking at their event. Follow up with making your case as to why you are fit for the said opportunity. This includes talking about your past achievements and successes in similar scenarios.
“Just so you know, I’ve had great success in my past guest lectures. You can check them out here:
<Insert proof — links to recorded videos or press release articles, if any>”
Aren’t we forgetting something? Colleges and universities? There is a decent budget dedicated to hosting experts and influential personalities at institutes. You may have attended those vocational training seminars on personality development and leadership skill-building yourself. Part and parcel of every student’s college life, right?
What’s amazing about college campus seminars is how receptive students really are. They sincerely listen to you and act on it. So, if you do a stellar job of delivering a seminar and proceed to plug in your course at the end, there’s a good chance you’ll hear from them.
In any case, give them a chance to sign up for your course afterwards. To further tip the scales in your favour, you can also offer branded handouts, pamphlets, or discount cards.
Insider tip: Record your talk and embed it on your social media platforms or upload it on your website. Not only will it serve as proof of your reputation and credibility, but also provide valuable knowledge to those who watch it.
If you are not too pressed for money, consider taking matters into your hands and sponsoring a community event. You can join hands with non-profit or interested local businesses to build a compelling offline presence. Formally invite industry leaders like yourself to give powerful talks on a variety of subjects of interest.
Apart from this, Q&As, workshops, and counselling sessions will add much-needed flavor to your event.
So, there it is—everything on how you can grow online courses with conferences and networking events.
3. Harness the power of print media
Remember how high-quality backlinks help establish credibility, influence, and awareness among your target audience? Well, print publications are their offline equivalents.
Obviously, the benefits aren’t quite as spectacular as SEO, but getting featured in high-profile publications, journals, and columns indicates marketing dollars spent right.
You see, newspapers have been the way of people for years. This is why press coverage is the easiest and quickest way to get in front of your potential customers.
But only if you take the planned, full-proof approach to it.
For example, if you sell a cooking course and are targeting a fashion publication, you are wasting your time. Or if you want a journalist who covers sports events to publish a story on your online school, it’s no wonder you will fail.
You need relevant placements in highly targeted magazines and newspapers where your target audience is guaranteed to see your story or ad.
For example, check out this newspaper column covering the founder of an online commerce school as she tackles the role of online education in the post-Covid era.
The feature drives awareness for Bindu’s online school and showcases her expertise, thereby helping her establish a compelling brand presence.
So, how do you invite press coverage for your online school?
Here’s a help 5-step approach to follow:
- Determine your target audience; find out who you want to reach.
- Shortlist the publications that your target audience reads.
- Research the kind of stories they cover.
- Find out the contact details of the journalist or editor who decides whether your story will be published or not.
- Email them your pitch or send a well-written press release.
The idea is to be selective and highly targeted in your approach. Don’t just go after a print publication for the heck of it; look for those relevant to the target audience or those that your potential customers consider being reliable sources of information.
Make sure you set aside time to pursue media houses for print opportunities — online and offline — to drum up publicity for your brand amongst local crowds.
Do you know what else you can target apart from the widely-read regional columns? Local schools and colleges newsletters. Best bang for your buck! Not only will you be getting in front of potential customers, but the chances of conversions are also significantly higher.
So, you’ve understood the ‘why’ and ‘who’ of print advertisements, the next challenge to take on is how to reach out to writers and journalists.
Well, it helps if you have inside influence, to begin with. If not, we recommend putting in some leg-work to build a rapport with persons of interest in media houses, magazines, and journals.
See, you’d essentially be asking them to do you a favor. And 44% of big-ticket journalists are approached with proposals (aka favours) at least twenty times a day. So, if you are a complete stranger blatantly asking for favors, you will likely be ignored.
But friends do favours for friends all the time, don’t they? So, naturally, you have better chances of success. That’s half your work done right there.
You will most likely find their contact details on publications. You can even look them up on their website if they have one. Media houses usually provide an advertising sales email address at the very least for you to drop in your pitches. But the genetic “[email protected]” or “[email protected]” won’t get you too far.
Aim for the name and email address of the journalist who has a say in whether your story will be published or not. Look for them on Twitter, or just ring up and enquire.
In any case, once you’ve located your target journalist, reach out to them with a short and straightforward email. Here’s a template for you:
|“Hey there, |
I am the founder and CEO of LeftBrain Academy for Music and Arts.
I really enjoyed your latest article on Music Theory.
Suppose you are ever looking to dive deeper into the subject. In that case, I can provide you with my expert opinion on the most recent trends in music theory pedagogy and discuss in detail the nitty-gritty of music production, songwriting, and mixing.
Does this sound like something you would be willing to cover? Do let me know.
Thanks for your time, Samantha. Hoping to hear back from you.
As you can see, the outreach email takes into account the type of content Samantha usually covers. Since Petunia’s is offering a story that is close to Samantha’s ideal writings, the chances of a positive response from her are understandably higher.
Wanna hear of another cool press release idea? Celebratory moments!
For instance, getting recognized by a reputed body or launching new programs, landing a huge partnership, and so on. You can reach out to the local press to cover your success. The news of your venture progressing is bound to bring you business. Just make sure your piece is unique, catchy, and enticing for your customers.
Pro tip: Include a QR code or URL in your print ad to direct readers to your landing page.
4. Drive brand familiarity with audio/video commercials
Cinema halls have been the center for local and regional advertising for ages now. Even with streaming applications being all the rage these days, there’ll be no stopping movie-goers from flocking to theaters once life returns to pre-Covid normal. People love the movie-going experience and are willing to travel up to 20 miles to relish it.
So, naturally, cinema halls where potential students of all age groups and demographics frequent MUST be where you market your brand to draw attention to your course.
How can you do this? With captivating ads, obviously. For the already captivated audience.
Have them played before the movie starts, during the intermission, or after the film ends. Contact movie theaters in your area and work out your ad film’s placement depending on your budget and goals.
Pre-movie ads are usually soundless slides, so images containing useful information about your brand are a good fit for this segment. The name of your online school, a simple tagline, and your contact details — that’s about all you need.
Think something like this:
Having your ad played in a movie theater! That’s got to get people talking, hasn’t it?
The even better news is that cinema advertising is a cost-effective option for coaching businesses looking to extend their reach. But then again, the specifics will vary depending on where you live.
To leave a lasting impact, you can create multiple slides to be aired across multiple slots. Some theaters even run ad films during the intermission—for example, PVR.
You can find information on advertising with PVR here.
If finances permit, get creative with your course ad film by setting an engaging entertainment-based theme around it. For example, Standard Medical School’s 2019 ad was set against Ariana Grande’s popular track “thank you, next.” Check it out below:
Definitely belongs in a theater, doesn’t it? Bound to get audiences to stop and listen.
If you are a follower of Big FM in India, you will know that radio stations regularly invite brands to advertise their wares to listeners they cater to. Whether it is through memorable jingles or strategic ad placement, brands can tap into untapped offline territories and expand their reach. Neat, right? But how do we know they are effective?
You see, radio stations closely monitor listener profiles to determine the different demographics interested in specific shows or personalities. Or to get the hang of the times of the day different listeners to tune in.
For example, late-night listeners are usually younger, whereas older people listen to the radio while commuting to work.
We are essentially saying that radio stations know who and when to target, what kinds of ads to put out, the type of effects or stock music to use, and so on.
So, if you were to purchase ad time on radio channels, provide interesting facts about your business, why you started it, what you offer, you’ll have people listening intently. Ideally, it would take a minimum of three exposures for audiences to notice your message and a few more to get them to act on it.
In any case, radio ads sure as hell work. All you gotta know is:
- Who you should target
- When you should target
- How often you should target
- What your ad should be
The real challenge is what you should include in your ad to increase your chances of success.
You need something memorable. Maybe a well-written, empathetic message that resonates with listeners on a personal level. Or a joyous, dream-like music track that pulls at their imaginations. Or simply an engaging conversation.
The ad should contain a call-to-action (CTA) obviously.
Having it played multiple times a day and week during the same time slots usually does the trick.
Suppose you know radio jockeys or key people in radio, well and good. You can reach out to them directly and get featured when you are likely to meet your audience at a time of day, or at night you are likely to meet your audience.
But if you don’t have inside influence, you know you can always go the self-service route and book ads with radio stations looking to publish free business stories.
5. Offer coupons, flyers, and handouts from a place where your potential customers hang out
There are usually multiple locations in a city that serve as educational hubs for students. From big-ass coaching institutes to print and photocopy shops, book stores, areas such as these are usually buzzing with activity around the clock.
Built amongst these massive buildings are breakfast joints, tea/coffee stalls, or tapris that are seemingly go-to places for students and see non-stop traffic, day in and day out.
Guess what’s common between all these establishments? The giant, bold banners plastered to their fronts and sides.
On top of that, there is usually someone handing out pamphlets or coupons, spreading the word about different local brands.
That, right there, is where you should go to make some noise about your online school.
But given the sheer number of coaching institutes vying for advertising space in the same location, there’s a good chance that banner blindness is very common in these areas. Sounds like a disease, right? Well, it’s not. It’s what we advertisers refer to as the phenomenon where students become oblivious to ads.
So, what can you do to make them actually stop and notice?
Reach out to vendors in the area to allow you to place posters and banners on their shops so potential students can learn about your brand when they visit. Also, ask them to distribute pamphlets and coupons promoting your business.
Granted, students will stuff your handouts into their bags and forget about your banners the moment they leave. But…. they will still have your promotional stationery when they need it.
Why? Students are actively looking for educational opportunities, so they will undoubtedly return to your ads and consider your brand seriously when the time comes.
It helps if your branded handouts are professional-looking and unique. Makes choosing your brand much easier.
So, coaching hubs are one option. What are some other places or prospective “distribution centers” to reach your audience?
Think of places where your potential customers congregate.
It makes sense to target gyms if you have a course on health and fitness. If you are looking to reach people interested in gardening or horticulture, nature spaces and plant nurseries should be where you direct your efforts. Libraries are also excellent places to reach prospects. Railways stations, metros, malls, and shopping centers are just a few other examples.
But possibly the most ideal of all points of interest are college campuses. There’s a never-ending opportunity to get in front of your target audience there to establish a foothold on the local market. It’s the holy grail of advertising spots!
So how do you go about it?
To begin with, you can get in touch with interested students to distribute pamphlets and handouts for you for some low-cost, effective advertising. Offer them discount coupons in return.
Another option is to hang your flyers on notice boards, cafes, and stationery shops within the campus (make sure to include QR codes on your handouts and banners, so students have instant access to your website).
If you are looking for a killer advertising opportunity, though, see if you can jump aboard those big-ticket college fests or the miscellaneous other sponsored, co-curricular events that are organized throughout the year. Those are prime times to target your prospects.
If you can get up a massive, high-grade “sponsored by” banner on a central location, you should be able to drive a significant amount of traffic to your brand.
You may need to get in touch with organizers and the administrative staff to discuss your advertising possibilities, but that shouldn’t be a problem.
So, anyway, that’s pretty much everything on how you can turn heads with informative handouts, flyers, and discount coupons. Now, all you have to do is implement these tips to get your business going.
There’s your cue to bring your marketing full circle with these stand-out offline tactics. We’ve seen that a mix of online and offline marketing strategies work best in building the brand of your dreams. All you gotta do is ensure consistent messaging across your campaigns, and you are well on your way to creating a kickass offline presence to drive sales for your course.