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Small Businesses Need an Online and an Offline Marketing Strategy You don't have to give up your Yellow Page ads, but you do need to expand your reach.

By Alicia Glenn

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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When I had a cold calling job, I spoke to hundreds of business owners, ranging from plumbers to hair stylists. While the majority of entrepreneurs had a handle on their craft, they had no idea how to market their businesses.

Most of them were still using ancient tactics, such as advertising on billboards and wishful thinking.

They would think to themselves, "Well, I'm the best at XYZ so the word will obviously spread."

It didn't. Unfortunately, wishful thinking doesn't pay the bills.

Every business needs an online strategy to thrive today. Unfortunately, most small business owners don't have one. It makes sense that they're not flocking to Instagram though, when you consider the fact that the average business owner is 50 years old.

They would rather stick to what they know - what's been seemingly "working for years," even if there's no way of tracking the results.

Bear in mind, these tactics aren't a substitute for excellent customer service and quality offerings. You can do all the promotion in the world, but running a good business is first and foremost.

Here's my formula for successfully promoting your brick-and-mortart business online.

Offline marketing + social media marketing + local directory listings + content marketing = successful business

Offline marketing isn't useless.

Old school tactics aren't useless, but most people are checking Yelp instead of the actual Yellowpages.

The problem with offline advertising is that it's very difficult to measure. It's hard to tell how many people saw your ad, and as a result, walked into your store. However, it is still a good way to build brand awareness, and bypass the noise online.

Related: The 15 Most Profitable Small-Business Industries

Social media marketing is important.

Master one social media platform. The key to gaining visibility on most platforms is by utilizing geotagging and hashtags that are both relevant to your business and common enough that people will find you.

Tagging your location is how you create visibility in your local community. If you don't, people will find you from all over the world, which isn't neccessarily a bad thing, if you have an online store as well.

Related: Steps to Starting a Small Business

Get listed on local directories.

When a person doesn't know where to find something, they turn to Google. Here's a few places they will search.

  • Yelp
  • Seamless
  • Angie's List
  • Google
  • Zillow

Directories are a great way to get warm leads. A warm lead is someone who is further along in the sales cycle. If someone is searching a directory, they're an easier sell because they're already looking for a solution you offer.

Make sure your business profiles have accurate and up-to-date information, including hours, services and images.

Related: Top 5 Small Business Tools

Content is king.

Creating great content is the best way to create a viral effect. You can do this by posting beautiful images, funny videos or writing interesting blog posts. This is how you differentiate yourself from competitors - by having your personality shine through.

To get ideas for content, look at what other successful businesses in your niche are doing, and then figure out how you can put your own spin on it.

Alicia Glenn is a product manager for Rich20Something Media where she spearheads the creation of world class products to help millennials around the world break free from the 9-to-5 grind and create awesome businesses. 

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