Some people have a gift for being able to walk into a room full of strangers and walk out an hour later with two new best friends and at least one new client. It’s an extrovert’s world out there, and we introverts can feel ill-equipped to be heard and make a difference.
There are plenty of reasons why introverts make amazing communities, managers, and entrepreneurs: you’re lifelong learners who prefer a good book to a crowded bar; you hear what people aren’t saying; you have deep, profound, and long-lasting relationships; you can’t stand idle gossip and platitudes because you prefer purposeful, meaningful conversations.
In some ways, social media was made for the introverts. But there will come a point in your business where you are going to need to take things offline, whether that means meeting face-to-face with a client or speaking at an event. Now, before you start to panic, know that 1) I am an introvert myself (even if I act extroverted online) and 2) I am NOT about to cajole you into going to a giant networking cluster. These are five offline marketing tactics that this introvert has used in business, and they don’t include massive mixers or speed-dating for business.
Papering the ‘hood with tiny squeeze pages
There’s this coffee shop that I love to go to where I feel my most productive. It probably looks a lot like your favorite coffee shop: hipster baristas, mismatched loveseats, burlap sacks of roasted coffee, and that “Community Bulletin” board where everyone from improv troupes to experienced nannies hawk their wares and services. The bulletin board is a giant cork free-for-all of posters and tear sheets, usually right by the station where people add more sugar to their lattes. Can you imagine the place?
Design a business card or postcard-sized call to action, and pin it to some of the coffee shop boards you like to frequent.
It could be the same exact thing as the opt-in box on your homepage, just using a special bit.ly link or QR code so you can track the traffic and determine your conversion rate from your “papering” campaign.
Why do I love this tactic so much?
It’s a community bulletin – a laissez-faire assortment of homemade flyers – so I don’t have to go ask the manager to post something. It’s open to everyone! Then I get to avoid feeling super awkward conversation that goes a little something like, “Um hey…you…person…um, could I, like, maybe post like this thing on the board, or whatever, maybe (giggle) or not, you know I mean it’s not that big of a deal just thought I’d ask.”
My ideal clients are young entrepreneurs. You know where those creative, ambitious types hang out? Coffee shops. When the cabin fever sets in and you can’t stand sitting at your desk for another moment, you’ll run to the nearest java joint for caffeine and a change of scenery. If your target market likes caffeine, chances are you can catch their gaze at a coffee shop. I recommend a placement right above either the skim milk or the coffee stirrers at eye-level.
Making some phone calls
Just go on and cold call some people. Done.
Kidding! There are few things more unenjoyable for me than cold calling a stranger and telling them about my business. Just typing that makes me feel a little icky.
Lots of people connect with others only by writing emails, so actual phone calls automatically make you stand out. Sure, you can make a list of businesses you’d like to work with and people you’d want to collaborate with, but calling can be scary. You can’t auto-correct what comes out of your mouth once it’s out!
Can I introduce you to a little trick of mine? It’s called Slydial. It lets you send voice-mails straight to someone’s phone without it ever even ringing – they just get a notification that they have a voicemail. Okay, so now you can write a script and leave a pleasant, confident, relevant voicemail without any hiccups or paper shuffling or awkward silences.
Volunteering for local non-profits or charitable organizations
If my ideal clients are mommy bloggers, then I am likely to run into a few of them at the “BlogHer JogHer 5K” (if that doesn’t exist yet, it totally should)! Volunteering with local non-profit groups is a great way to meet one-on-one with potential clients and influencers. Someone – another volunteer, perhaps – will naturally ask what it is you do, and you’ll get to tell them without feeling salesy or pushy. Plus, because you’re volunteering for an organization or cause that you actually have a connection to, it won’t be as hard to make conversation as it may be at a random networking happy hour.
So who could this tactic work for?
Nutritionists and health coaches volunteering at soup kitchens, races, and wellness fairs.
Small business coaches and virtual assistants volunteering at Chamber of Commerce workshops and events.
Break out the stationery for some handwritten notes
Handwritten notes are so special and personal, you can’t help but love receiving them. I’ll admit that sometimes I think better with pen and paper than I do at a keyboard. So here’s the idea: the next time you land a big client or get an awesome opportunity, write a note to that person and put it in the actual mail. Not a Facebook message. Not an email. Something with a real stamp on it.
“How is this a marketing tactic, Ann?”
You may have heard that it is easier to keep a current customer than find a new one, right? And that word-of-mouth (friends recommending friends) is still the most successful way of getting new business? I guarantee that if you send your great new client a handwritten “Welcome to the club!” note, or a “Thank you for your business!” note, that client will always remember how thoughtful and genuine you are. Maybe they’ll even Instagram a picture of the note. And then tell their friends. And then you get new clients. Bada bing, bada boom.
Go ahead and vividly imagine in the Worst Case Scenario. And then laugh at yourself.
Okay, so this isn’t a marketing tactic per se – it is all about your mindset – but once you’ve got a positive, confident mindset, the marketing part will come much more easily. My mom likes to remind me when I get in a funk that the worst that can happen is they say, “No.” That’s it. That’s what I have been dreading – and that doesn’t seem like a very good reason to bow out of cool opportunities.
Let’s be honest: most times I don’t really believe the worst that can happen is merely getting rejected. That’s too simple! No, I will get rejected, and it will be really embarrassing for me, but it doesn’t stop there. I am 100% positive that when I get turned down, the Rejector will go and tell all their friends, and maybe even write a blog post about what a loser I am. And then people on the Internet will actively dislike me and write nasty comments on my website. And then I’ll lose clients because of it. And then my business will collapse because I’m an entrepreneurial failure. And then I’ll end up homeless and living under an overpass somewhere, talking to myself and offering to clean people’s windshields.
And then I realize how crazy that all sounds. Really? All that for turning down a guest post pitch?
Which gets me back to my original point: if you act a little courageous, go out on a limb, and try to offer somebody your services, the worst they can really say is, “No.” And it’s not a personal affront – it’s just business. “No” isn’t the end of the world.
So the next time you hold back from going to that meetup group, or from nominating yourself for that award or applying for that telesummit, let your mind go off the deep end to the most extreme of extremes.
You’ll realize how silly your fear was all along, and that may help you to find the courage to follow-through.
There is a difference between shy and scared. One can be an asset when it makes you more self-aware, a better listener, and more thoughtful. The other one is just wussin’ out.
Tactics that I left out on purpose
There are plenty of offline marketing tactics I left out, and I did it on purpose. Here’s why they’re not my favorite tactics for introverts.
Hosting a live workshop or seminar:
Room full of strangers. Stage fright. Vendor negotiations. Anxiety-riddled. Maybe later, after I build my confidence, but not my first choice.
Placing ads in the newspaper:
Cool idea! I would love to spend $100 on 25 words in the Times instead of spending $25 on 100 words on Facebook. Cue sarcasm. Unless your business niche is geographically specific, putting a classified in the local paper isn’t on my list of things to do. I’m sure I could drum up some interest, but I get a better conversion rate from other tactics.
Getting an ad on the radio:
I feel like people only listen to the radio for traffic announcements, and then go back to Spotify or Last.Fm to hear commercial-free jams. This could maybe work for business podcasts, sure, but podcasts are online so they’re disqualified from the offline marketing list.
Fellow introverts, what do you do to market your business successfully without feeling too pushy or overly exposed?