Beyond digital: The untapped potential of in-person marketing

The pandemic triggered a seismic shift online. With nowhere else to go, people turned to the internet for entertainment and retail therapy. 

Businesses woke up to the fact they too needed to be online – and fast. The pandemic turbocharged the adoption of digital marketing strategies.

At the same time, video conferencing quickly became the norm, and service providers like coaches, mentors and therapists realised they could have a thriving online business and tap into a global pool of clients, without even leaving their front room.

But, for most solopreneur service providers, marketing remains an uphill battle. As someone who helps well-being practitioners, healers, and educators establish their online presence and marketing systems, I witness this almost daily. 

The marketing struggle is real

While online marketing may appear easy and affordable – after all, you have a computer and the internet – it’s far from it. Learning the ropes takes time and the effort (and investment) required is often vastly underestimated. 

As the rush to establish an online presence gathers steam, many solopreneurs overlook the importance of person-to-person networking and community building. The advice I give to my clients is to leverage their most valuable resource: their human connections. 

For service providers seeking to build a one-person business, this is the ultimate marketing weapon. Nothing can compete with the impact of human contact – a fact that no digital communication can ever rival.

Don’t get me wrong, social media and SEO are important,  but with online marketing, you are competing globally for the attention of strangers, which is tough!

Maybe you’re missing a trick with the skills you have in engaging locally and using your existing networks and community sources.

After all, engagement is the name of the game in online marketing. But while the engagement rate on your last social media post may zero, with in-person marketing you are guaranteed some kind of engagement as you interact with people face to face.

What is in-person marketing?

In-person marketing is the art of building connections and trust through human interaction, rather than relying solely on digital means. By meeting people in person, you can build relationships and promote your services in a more personal way. That’s why starting locally is a great way to get your foot in the door. People tend to be more inclined to support local businesses, especially if they have some familiarity with them. By making connections in your local community, you can gain a loyal customer base and establish a strong foundation for your business to grow.

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What can you do to start in-person marketing locally?

​​In today’s highly digitalised world, it’s easy to get caught up in online marketing and forget the power of in-person marketing. But, starting locally with in-person marketing can be an effective way to build your business from the ground up. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Join your local business network

If you’re not already a member of your local business network, join one. If there isn’t one, start one. This is a great opportunity to network and collaborate with complementary businesses that already have a clientele you could tap into. For example, a meditation leader could partner with a wedding planner and offer their services to stressed-out brides-to-be.

Speaking engagements

Find out about local groups, such as Round Table or the Women’s Institute that hold speaking events, and give a talk on a topic that is related to your business but is also entertaining and useful. Speaking engagements are an excellent way to position yourself as an expert in your field and make valuable connections. If you’re not used to public speaking, join your nearest Toastmasters group, and kill two birds with one stone – learn to speak confidently in front of an audience, and network at the same time.

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Free workshops

Holding a workshop is an effective way to showcase your expertise and connect with potential clients. Consider teaching something really useful, such as exercises to improve posture and reduce back pain if you’re a fitness coach, or a meal planning workshop if you’re a health coach.

Putting on an event

You could partner with a local charity and put on a fundraising event, or create an event to celebrate something like International Women’s Day or to commemorate a special date in history. It doesn’t have to be a one-off either. It could be anything to bring other locals together on a regular basis, such as wine tasting or a supper club. Hosting an event is an excellent way to create buzz around your business and attract new clients.

Participate in your local festival

Most towns have a festival in the summer, where local businesses can get a stall or stand to promote their services. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your business to the community and make new connections.

In-person marketing doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Even simple tactics like good old-fashioned flyers can still work. However, the real power of in-person marketing lies in building connections and trust with people. After the pandemic, people have come to realise how important real-life interaction is, and how much they crave human contact. 

If you want to establish the foundations of your business without investing tons of time and money in online marketing, starting locally gives you the opportunity to test your communication strategies. You can find out what works before expanding to a larger audience, which could be the rest of the world, online, if you choose.

Photo: Dani Hart

James Hanberry
Verified Coach
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James Hanberry is a marketing specialist and coach helping well being professionals, mentors, educators and content creators build their businesses online. Email or book a free consultation here.

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