online marketing, inbound marketing, lead generation

Small Business Marketing: Online vs Offline: Gather Your Crowd and Generate Leads

Online Marketing “vs” Offline Marketing

We do ourselves a disservice when we differentiate “online” marketing as completely different from “offline” marketing.

It’s true more and more commerce activities (searching for solutions, researching solutions, as well as actually buying) is moving online.

It’s also true that online marketing does present us with a variety of channels in which to market our products and services.

However, the basic ideas and concepts are the same independent of the channel.

Using Computer Crime to Help Make a Point

To help illustrate my point I’ll talk a little about security, or more specifically “computer crime” as compared to “crime”.

Once upon a time I was the head of IT Security at Seagate Technology, and a significant amount of my time was spent providing education to both software developers and system/network administrators to teach them that crime that occurs in the computer network is not different in concept from crime that occurs outside of the computer.

Theft is theft.

Forgery is forgery.

Unauthorized entry is unauthorized entry.

Whether these crimes are committed in physical space or in cyberspace, the actions are similar.

Yet we created a vocabulary where “hacking” was a generic term conveying wrong doing and some people did not see a computer unauthorized entry as serious a crime as breaking and entering.

Part of my job was to get people to see the similarities between “real world” crime and “computer” crime.

The biggest part of this is while I reported via a solid line into the IT organization, I had “dotted line” responsibilities to the head of security. I attended staff meetings of both the senior IT staff and the senior security staff.

When an actual cyber crime was detected (and they were) the investigations were lead by security, with IT providing support as needed. The security staff had experience in investigations and had relationships with the various police agencies in the various countries and cities where Seagate had operations. They were the right people to lead investigations.

How Does This Relate to Marketing

We have a similar problem that vocabulary that sometimes obscures what we’re really talking about.

Content Creation is Publishing

So why don’t we call it publishing? Because we see it as different. Did you know the first recorded example of what we now call Content Marketing started in 1895? It was a quarterly magazine titled The Furrow and was (and still is) published by John Deere.

Link Building is Networking

The goal is to obtain links to your website to increase your SEO findability. The way you do that is by networking.

This is really no different from meeting other business owners at business mixers, meeting up later for what we call 1 on 1 meetings, and referring prospects to each other.

If we thought about Link Building as networking, would we go about it differently?

Sharing is Referring

When we sharing a webpage (which is an article or a story) via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or whatever, we are referring people within our network to that webpage.

This is no different from telling someone face to face that you know that Larry’s Autoworks in Moutain View is a really good car repair place (which they are by the way).

The Difference Is

For each example provided above, the main difference is we can “cover more ground” online. Our posts can reach more people. We can network with more people in less time. And we can refer others to more people with less time and effort.

While this is a difference in scale, it’s not different in concept.

I’ll Use Myself as an Example

Inbound Marketing University is new. The idea for this online school and community came to me five months ago. In that time I’ve changed my website into a membership site, laid out a curriculum, recorded and published lessons, and gotten started.

It would of course be hypocritical of me not to attract my audience and generate leads using what I teach. Also, there is no cheaper form of lead generation available to any business, bar none.

So I’m practicing what I preach.

However I’m one of thousands if not millions of websites publishing on this topic. It’s a very competitive niche. Obtaining search engine dominance takes time.

In the meantime, it makes sense for me to pound the pavement, meet people, talk, and sell. Since this does not diminish my online efforts, why wouldn’t I?

Additionally, I may meet someone which whom there is synergies and obtain a backlink through this effort. When that occurs you experience a direct link between offline activities and online activities.


Your physical world or offline marketing activities can and should support your online marketing activities. Both have the common goal of growing your customer base and your business.

For what I consider to be the best perspective, try to also find “real world” or “physical space” words and phrases to describe your online activities. This helps put them into a perspective we are all more familiar with and more comfortable with.

Now for the Sales Pitch

Watch my video “Intro to Inbound Marketing” and once done dowload and read the eBook.

The video provides a very high level overview and the eBook goes into more detail.

Inbound marketing (supported by outbound activities) simply works.

Why shouldn’t it work for your business too?

SEO Needs Link Building



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