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When it comes to marketing for local businesses, relying solely on the classic methods of online promotion (such as Facebook Ads, blogs, Google Ads, videos, etc.) may not be sufficient.

Of course, digital marketing methods are essential for local businesses too; I challenge anyone to survive in today’s world without a blog, a strong social media presence, and a YouTube channel.

However, local businesses, which have a physical location where they receive both customers and curious visitors (think of a clothing store where two out of every ten curious visitors make a purchase), can leverage a range of offline techniques to boost their business.

Offline marketing for local businesses is just as important as online marketing.

Offline marketing is highly effective because many businesses, including your direct competitors, tend to focus so much on online promotion that they overlook all the offline promotion techniques we’ll discuss in this part of the blog.

This presents a great opportunity for you to become the undisputed local authority in your city.

In fact, offline marketing has numerous strengths and advantages over online marketing.


One of the primary advantages of offline marketing compared to online marketing is the opportunity to meet people face to face and establish a personal connection and relationship.

It’s one thing to distribute your educational video where you speak in front of a camera and essentially address everyone; it’s another to speak directly with a person and tailor the conversation to their needs.

This is much more effective than relying on people to click on links, read text, view your small profile picture, and, at best, watch your video or read your ad when they find you online.

Relationships are crucial in business, and offline strategies allow you to develop relationships more effectively.

In offline marketing, you can make eye contact, build stronger connections, earn people’s trust, and have the opportunity to build long-term business relationships with those you meet.

Not only will your sales conversion rate increase after gaining their trust, but these new business relationships can bring value for years or even decades to come.

As I’ll show you, you can acquire numerous new customers every day with a simple paper letter.

Becoming the local authority and ensuring that most of your target customers think of you before your competitors is the first step in expanding and growing your business.


The Ultimate Local Marketing Techniques


How did my great friend and first reader, Alessandro Olivieri, manage to attract 2,000 members to a gym that was still undergoing renovations in a small and economically challenged town like Massa Carrara, in Tuscany (Italy)?

After struggling with ineffective and quite expensive paid advertisements, I advised him to completely abandon his Facebook Ads campaign and instead focus on a different approach, which I will now discuss.

First Tool: Printed Landing Page

This is a highly effective local marketing strategy based on one premise: owners of street shops or shopping centers allow entry to many people who are just “window shopping” for products.

These individuals represent the worst type of “customer” because 99% of them won’t make a purchase (in fact, they can’t even be considered customers).

They will simply occupy the store space, often try out products, drive you and your employees crazy, and then leave with a “I’ll think about it… bye for now and thanks!”

And you’re left only with the task of tidying up all the merchandise.

A friend of mine who manages a clothing store in the center of Forte dei Marmi was once compelled by a lady to showcase all the winter jackets she had (about 12 of them), including those in storage.

Of course, the lady left without making any purchase, leaving my friend empty-handed and with all these jackets to put back in order.

I know you despise these kinds of people, but today I propose a different way to view the situation.

These people have walked directly into your store, without any marketing effort or cost.

They simply saw your door open, perhaps with other people inside your establishment, and walked in.

Even if they don’t make a purchase and only waste your time, they could still buy in the future, thereby becoming zero-cost acquired buyers.


But how do you turn them into paying customers?

Allowing anyone to enter and try your products for free without any obligation to purchase is not a mistake; the mistake – one that practically every retailer in the world makes – is letting these people leave without having something in hand that reminds them of your store.

Do you know how many potential customers leave your store and never return?

Do you know how many potential customers will recommend your competitors to friends and acquaintances?

Not because you treated them poorly, but simply because you didn’t give them a compelling reason to remember you, come back, or talk about you.

You need to know that sooner or later, these people will undoubtedly purchase a product similar to the ones they observed in your store, but they will do so elsewhere because they have forgotten about you.

The irritating lady who made my friend pull out twelve jackets will definitely buy a jacket, but she’ll buy it from another store or online.

Let me give you a concrete example.

Restaurants receive many new customers every evening without any marketing effort.

Perhaps they are customers who saw the Google My Business listing or simply read some positive reviews on TripAdvisor.

In any case, every restaurant welcomes a multitude of customers acquired at zero cost every evening.

These are all people who come in, eat, pay, and leave, often never to return.

They will certainly dine out again, but they might choose a different restaurant because they have forgotten about yours.

The same scenario occurs for clothing stores, grocery stores, and shops in shopping malls.

These small businesses can encounter hundreds of people every day, especially in large cities, but they let them go without attempting to convert them into potential customers.

Imagine the impact it would have on your finances if you could consistently sell to everyone who enters your store and get them to recommend you to their acquaintances.

Well, now it’s possible.

And I’ll tell you how.


When discussing techniques for converting a regular store visitor into a paying customer, the common approach is to unleash salespeople upon them like locusts, saying, “Did you see something you like? Were you looking at that product? How can I assist you? Tell me everything! I’m here to help!”

When this happens – which is almost always – salespeople recite this line with a forced smile on their lips, invading people’s personal space by approaching extremely close and behaving in the same greedy and unsettling manner as Gollum when he finds the ring.

This approach causes many potential customers never to return to that store due to the annoyance and disruption caused by the salespeople.

I am one of those people: it’s hard for me to enter a store just to browse; if I enter, it’s because I need to buy something, and when I see a young salesperson approaching and repeating the insincere phrase “I’m here to help, tell me what you need,” it annoys me greatly.

I want to be left alone and make independent decisions.

If I need help, I will call a sales associate myself.

And I assure you that there are many people like me who hate being bothered by salespeople.

This kind of aggressive approach, common in almost every store, has two significant disadvantages:

  • 1. You don’t capture the contact information of potential customers who visit the store, which is the most valuable information in the world.
  • 2. You annoy your customers with aggressive (and ineffective) sales tactics, forcing them to leave with the unpleasant feeling of being disturbed.

You will agree with me that a person who visits a store and feels bothered will leave only negative reviews and is unlikely to recommend your store to friends and family.

Guys, believe me, it’s a grave mistake to pounce on your customers with salespeople.

It’s time to put an end to this situation that only loses us customers and turn it into a situation where we genuinely benefit.


So, how can you obtain the contact information of people who visit your store without bothering them?

The only way to get people’s contact information without disturbing them is to invite them to visit your Landing Page.

How?

Simply by printing your Landing Page and handing it to EVERY person who enters your store, a moment before they leave.

Keep track of the average number of people entering your store every day, and starting tomorrow, print the corresponding number of paper Landing Pages.

Distribute these sheets to anyone who enters the store, whether they make a purchase or just stop briefly.

Let them browse your products, wander around the store, do their thing.

Don’t disturb them, and don’t send salespeople towards them unless the customer themselves requests assistance; let them be free to do as they please.

When they leave, no one will refuse to take your sheet, and in fact, many will be happy to receive it.

Yes, give it even to those who tested 200 products but didn’t buy anything.

I know your desire is to kill them, but restrain yourself: money is more important.

HOW TO DESIGN YOUR PRINTED LANDING PAGE LETTER

Naturally, you can’t print your Landing Page exactly as it appears on your blog because it’s optimized for viewing on both PCs and smartphones.

Printing it would result in a poor-quality document.

To deliver it on paper to your customers and visitors, the letter should always include all the elements of your Landing Page but formatted differently.

I’ll show you what those elements are.

Your Photo

Your photo should be the first thing people see when they read your letter.

I’m not talking about your store’s logo, but specifically about the photo of the business owner: your photo.

The same photo you use on social media should also be printed on your sales letter.

Why your photo and not the logo?

People always prefer to buy from other people.

You need to demonstrate that if they choose to contact you, they’re reaching out to a person, not a cold and disinterested call center.

Furthermore, including your face in the sales letter shows that your offer is legitimate and trustworthy.

By putting your face in a letter, you convey that you have no intention to deceive anyone.

I know it might seem like minor details, but believe me when I say they make a difference.


The Offer

The lead magnet offer should be the same as what you’ve created for your online Landing Page.

As for the text on the printed page, you can use what you’ve written on the online Landing Page.

Call to Action (CTA)

Naturally, people can’t leave their name and email on the sheet you’ve given them, so you need to write out the link to your online Landing Page in full, like “Download the ebook now / Watch the free video ➡️ https://thebusinesshomepage.com/[LANDING PAGE LINK].”

Right below the link, also include a QR code to allow more tech-savvy readers to access it directly with their smartphones without typing the whole URL.

There are millions of free websites to create QR codes.

You can simply search for one on Google (I always use this: QR Code Generator, but any will do).

Below the CTA, explain that by subscribing, they will receive your lead magnet for free and regularly receive your newsletter, keeping them informed about discounts, events, and promotions.

Remind them that it’s a free and optional offer and they can unsubscribe at any time.

If you’ve created a page but are unsure of its success, contact me and send it over; I’ll take a look and suggest any necessary changes (please give me some time as I receive many requests and I’m working alone; I’ll respond to everyone, but I need some time).

One very important thing: Keep the Landing Page within a single A4 page; don’t make people flip the page; print everything on one page.

HOW TO PRINT YOUR LANDING PAGE

Here’s a crucial aspect to consider.

Now that you’ve designed all the elements of your Landing Page, you’re ready to print it.

However, before you fire up the printer, there’s something you need to think about.

If you want your customers to see your paper Landing Page as something valuable – something not destined for the nearest trash can or to wipe ice cream off their child’s face – you can’t use your home or office printer.

We Italians are known for having great ideas and carrying them out with second-hand materials (which is also reflected in significant works like bridge collapses, etc.).

I’ve had several Italian readers who printed their Landing Page on a plain A4 sheet using their home or office printer.

While this may seem like the most cost-effective way to print your letter, keep in mind that recipients (your potential contacts) may not take it seriously and toss it away.

I’m telling you this because it’s what happened to my recent Italian readers.

For instance, a young woman who owns a clothing store saw several people accept her letter and then throw it into the nearest trash bin around the corner.

If you want your printed Landing Page to generate many leads, you need to print it on something more valuable than a simple A4 sheet.


My advice, which has worked very well, is to print them on a “Retro” paper template from VistaPrint.com.

A retro paper template is always mentally associated with something elegant and precious, definitely standing out from all those white letters that look like gas bills.

You can find as many as you want on VistaPrint.com and choose the one you like the most, as long as it resembles an old brown paper template (click here to see some old paper examples on Google Images).

Don’t print on thin paper; invest a little money and use a heavier cardstock.

But wait, there’s more.

To truly impress your potential customers, you can’t simply hand over the printed sheet.

This is because when you deliver the letter, many people who have entered your store may have just gone shopping and have their hands full of bags.

They would take the sheet with their remaining free fingers, and the bulk of the bags could damage your letter, causing it to get crumpled and end up in the trash, even if it’s printed as I recommended using VistaPrint.

To achieve a “wow” effect, generate curiosity, and make your letter appear precious, deliver it in a sealed envelope.

This way, people will be eager to return home and open your envelope.

And of course, even the envelope should have a unique and distinctive style.

I recommend a Harry Potter-style sealed envelope, which you can buy on Amazon by searching antique old envelope style aged“.


Print your logo on the envelope (you can do it directly through Amazon) and add the text “A gift for you from [YOUR STORE NAME].”

The writing should be done by hand and, if possible, in this old font style.

For those with poor handwriting (like me), you could ask one of your employees to write it for you.

The appearance of the envelope and letter will pique the recipient’s interest and increase sign-ups for your mailing list.

Even though VistaPrint.com might not be cheap (nor these types of envelopes on Amazon), it’s important to remember that you’re not playing around; you’re promoting your business.

You shouldn’t skimp on promotional materials.

Keep in mind that this investment will bring you many more contacts and potential customers than you might think.

Thanks to these strategies, although not inexpensive, when I worked as a real estate agent, I was able to purchase properties for sale that other real estate agencies didn’t even know existed, simply by sending these envelopes to homeowners.

HOW TO DISTRIBUTE THE PRINTED LANDING PAGE

We’ve reached the final phase: distributing and delivering your letter.

This is a crucial step where you or your employees (or both) need to become genuine actors because sales sometimes involve a bit of acting.

Don’t worry; you don’t need an Oscar-worthy performance, just a little bit of acting to break through potential buyers’ natural defenses.

First, hang a sign that says “FREE ENTRY” outside your shop.

Don’t do it in an Italian way: use a nice sign and don’t write it by hand.

You can find one on Amazon or create it on VistaPrint.

Secondly, train your salespeople not to disturb people entering your store.

They can greet them with a “Good morning” and a friendly, genuine smile, but they should limit it to that.

Avoid phrases like “Can I help you?” or “I’m at your service!” as they can be annoying and make people uncomfortable.

Allow people to enter and browse your products without being disturbed.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating.

Now, we’re at step three: when and how to deliver the envelope containing your Landing Page.

If a person comes in, takes a look at your products, and then leaves, a friendly salesperson (preferably the youngest staff member) should approach them just before they leave and hand them the envelope, saying, “Hi, here’s a gift for you, take a look at it comfortably at home, with no obligation. Thank you for coming, goodbye, and see you soon!”

Remind your salesperson to genuinely smile both with their mouth and their eyes.


People can tell when a smile is forced.

During busy periods, like weekends when there’s a higher influx of people leaving together, instead of repeating the phrase to each individual, which might seem too forced, your salesperson can hand out envelopes to everyone leaving at once and say the phrase once for all.

It’s important to use common sense and understand when and how to deliver the message.

The fourth step is crucial: sales staff should not stand in front of the door waiting for people to exit because it gives the impression of being pushy promoters, and people dislike promoters.

Here’s a tip from Dustin Burleson‘s local marketing course: sales assistants should work on the computer or appear busy arranging products.

If people see them idly by the door, they might think, “As soon as I enter, these folks will pounce on me like vultures,” and might avoid entering the store.

Therefore, only one salesperson, preferably the youngest woman on staff as mentioned before, should be stationed at the exit.

This salesperson should appear busy arranging products but ready to hand out the envelope with your Landing Page and deliver the previously mentioned phrase.

For businesses without regular visitors, such as professional offices, a technique anyone could use is to place several envelopes in an outdoor container so that passersby can pick them up even if they don’t enter the office.

On the container, there should be a message that says:

“Take a free envelope. It contains a gift for you from [YOUR COMPANY NAME]. Take a look at it comfortably at home, with no obligation. Thank you for passing by, goodbye, and see you soon!”


Second Tool: Joint Ventures

For many, the thought of asking others to collaborate can be quite daunting.

“I don’t want to come across as desperate and seek help from others!”

This mindset is the result of years of misguided teachings about collaboration among entrepreneurs.

Let me tell you what truly is desperate: allowing your call center to randomly call people and ask them to buy a product or service they know nothing about and don’t need; that is sad and desperate.

Calling friends and family and pitching a $1,000 investment in our new work-from-home opportunity is a desperate and dismal move.

Proposing a collaboration where everyone wins and benefits is not desperate.

It is something very smart and highly profitable for all parties involved.

In this part of the lesson, I’d like to shed some light and show you how joint ventures, when done correctly, as I’m about to explain, can be a powerful marketing tool for local businesses.

Let’s begin: what are joint ventures?

Joint ventures are simply partnerships between two or more companies to achieve a specific goal or project.

Joint ventures work exceptionally well as a lead generation system.


Not only that, they are a mechanism even YouTubers use when they collaborate on videos to try and cross-promote each other and further grow their channels (it’s no surprise that MrBeast is the YouTuber most frequently approached for collaborations or joint ventures).

When I was a real estate agent, I used these collaborations with other businesses in my area to try and expand my mailing list.

Specifically, I extended offers to all the businesses in my neighborhood, asking them to refer anyone looking to buy or sell a house in Forte dei Marmi to my agency.

I don’t want to feed you false claims like many pseudo marketers who present themselves as infallible; my initial set of joint ventures I created were epic failures.

Why?

Because I made the same classic mistake that many people make when seeking collaboration.

Like many marketing tools, joint ventures often fail due to improper use.

You’ve probably tried to seek collaborations yourself and were not satisfied with the results, which is why just hearing the term “joint venture” sends shivers down your spine.

Don’t worry; I’ll explain everything in detail now.

Going back to the story of my mistakes, I proposed joint ventures to nearly all the local businesses near my real estate agency, including pubs, restaurants, hotels, various shops, and beachfront establishments – essentially businesses that saw a significant flow of people aligned with my potential client base.

I offered everyone the same collaboration:

“If you direct your clients to my real estate agency, I’ll offer them a 2% commission on the sale or purchase price, instead of the standard 3% I charge everyone else. It’s a significant discount, and your clients will be pleased, making a great impression!”



Despite all the business owners thanking me and genuinely being happy about the collaboration, they didn’t send me a single client.

That’s right, not even one.

I even suspected that some of them directed clients to other real estate agencies, perhaps because they were friends with the owners, and simply forgot about me and our collaboration.

After seriously considering renting a Hummer and barging into their establishments without using the front door, I realized that the failure of these collaborations was entirely my fault.

In fact, I had forgotten the number one principle of marketing: people are selfish.

The first question they ask in any situation is, “What do I gain from accepting your offer?”

Analyzing my collaboration proposal, I asked myself: what do other businesses gain from sending me their clients?

And the embarrassing answer I arrived at was: absolutely nothing.

They would only make a good impression on their clients… but a good impression cannot be deposited in the bank; only money can be deposited in the bank.

Initially, I tried to ignore this fact, but the solution became clear: to make joint ventures work, I had to allocate a small portion of my earnings to the businesses I proposed to collaborate with.

So, the solution to the equation is that we must treat the businesses we propose joint ventures with as if they were our most important clients.

It’s a sales negotiation in every sense, and if we succeed, none of our competitors will ever win the favor of the merchants once they’ve chosen to collaborate with us.

This means that we can’t just offer them a simple verbal partnership like I did, but we have to make them feel important by providing them with a business letter explaining the details of the partnership, complete with a monetary reward.

Therefore, we must still use “Harry Potter-style” envelopes even when proposing a collaboration to other local businesses.


On the front of the envelope, we should write only the phrase:

“Collaboration Proposal for [NAME OF THE COMPANY WE ARE PROPOSING THE JOINT VENTURE TO].”

It’s better if we write it by hand using the font style I showed you earlier.

At the beginning of the letter, you should insert your logo next to the logo (or name if there is no logo) of the business you are addressing.

You can find logos and names on websites, Facebook pages, or Instagram profiles.

Yes, it’s necessary to personalize the sales letter for each company you want to propose the joint venture to; otherwise, you won’t be able to keep track of which customer comes from which company, and the entrepreneurs won’t be as enthusiastic.

Furthermore, when business owners see their logo printed on the letter, they will be pleasantly surprised.

At this point, let’s see what you should write in these sales letters.

Going back to my example, I explained to the business owners that if I sold a house to a customer they referred, I would give them 10% of my commission (in Italy, it is legal to receive money for referring a customer, and the commission is regularly taxed with an “Occasional Service” invoice).


Unfortunately, I no longer have the original copies of these collaboration proposals, but I wrote something like this:

“My commissions range from a minimum of €10,000 to a maximum of hundreds of thousands of euros. As you can see, if you refer a customer to my agency who buys or sells a property, you will be entitled to a considerable sum.”

Then I printed another Landing Page, which is the sheet that the business owners were supposed to give to customers to direct them to my agency, and I included:

  • Name and logo of the company.
  • The discount or offer you intend to propose to the customer.
  • Finally, include this wording: “To activate the [DISCOUNT/OFFER], come to my store, bringing this letter with you!”

So, I gave the store owner several envelopes containing this Landing Page to distribute to their customers.

I then instructed the business owners to hand the letter to anyone who entered their establishment and made a purchase.

When it came time to pay the bill, the owners (or their employees) handed my envelope to their customers, saying, “This is a special free promotion from Forte dei Marmi Real Estate Agency. Take a look when you have some free time. Thank you for coming, and have a great day.”

When the entrepreneurs realized they could earn significant amounts, this system began to bring me numerous referrals from all the businesses in the area to which I had proposed the joint venture.

The former “Principe” bar, a historic bar in Forte dei Marmi, now known as Pasticceria Prada, has always been frequented by high-profile individuals; on more than one occasion, I received referrals from Italian television personalities who were regular patrons of that historic bar.

So, the key to a successful joint venture is to offer a share of your earnings to the entrepreneurs you are seeking collaboration with.

If you don’t offer something tangible in terms of money, you won’t get results.

Remember the first principle of marketing: people are selfish.

COMMON OBJECTIONS TO JOINT VENTURES

However, doubts from entrepreneurs regarding this collaboration still persisted.

The most common objections were:

  • “How do I know you will pay me?”
  • “How do you know that a specific customer came to you because of my letter?”

No one will ask you these questions directly (although someone might), but when you explain your collaboration to entrepreneurs, you’ll realize that they are pondering these questions from their uncertain expressions.

It is crucial to address these objections in your sales letter intended for the store owner.

I resolved them by writing this paragraph (adapt it to your profession, of course):

“First and foremost, the letter expressly states that to receive the [DISCOUNT/OFFER], the customer must hand me the letter, in which I will see your logo, confirming that it was you who sent me that customer. This way, there will be no doubts about the referral from you. The second issue regarding payment certainty is quite straightforward. If I don’t keep my promises and, therefore, don’t pay you, it would be foolish and a complete defeat for me. It’s a small world, and sooner or later, you’ll find out if your customer bought or sold a house thanks to my work. Suppose I didn’t give you the money, stupidly hoping that you would never find out. In that case, you could leave a negative review on Google or Facebook and speak ill of me to all the other businesses in the neighborhood. You know how influential negative reviews can be. By not giving money to a business, just once, I would have significant problems forever. A negative review from a company would bring down the entire castle I am painstakingly building. I have invested a lot in this customer acquisition method; collaborations with other businesses are a gold mine for me. It would be foolish on my part not to keep my promises.”

Feel free to copy and paste this paragraph into your joint venture letter, as it has proven to be effective.

Third Tool: Door-to-Door Distribution

The “old-school” methods are still very relevant, especially when it comes to lead generation for local businesses.

Distributing your Landing Page door-to-door in the mailboxes of houses in your city can still work wonders.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and you don’t have to ring any doorbells or talk to anyone.

It’s a high-performance system that has worked in the past, is working now, and will always work.

Real estate agents still use it worldwide.

Whom should you deliver the letter to?

If you’re targeting individual customers, as I used to do when managing a real estate agency, it’s a good idea to create a sales letter for each family in the area you intend to reach with your local business.

Think it’s too costly?

Is your city too large?

Consider the option of dividing the area into smaller zones, starting with one and moving on to the next after collecting initial earnings.

HOW TO DISTRIBUTE THE PAPER LANDING PAGE

Unless your customers are located far away (for example, if your target customers are other businesses), I discourage you from hiring a shipping company.

If you live in Italy and rely on Poste Italiane, for instance, half of the letters would end up in rivers, and the other half in paper recycling bins.

And the postal workers would pretend to have delivered them.

In your country, the postal service might work better, but it still remains an unnecessary expense because you can do it all by yourself.

Personally, I have always personally placed the letter in mailboxes, and I recommend you do the same.

Set a specific day of the week in your schedule, take 50 to 70 letters, and start going around the houses, putting your letters in the mailboxes.

If you’re afraid of being seen, you can do it in the evening.

To prevent the letters from getting wet in case of rain, cover them with a transparent envelope that you can find on Amazon.

The difference between these letters and the ones you hand out to customers when they enter your store lies in the message on the envelopes.

On the envelopes that you put in the mailboxes, write this message (by hand, with neat handwriting):

“Hello! This envelope contains a gift for you from [YOUR STORE NAME]. No commitment, no credit card required, and no obligation! We look forward to seeing you at our center located at [ADDRESS]. Signed: [YOUR NAME AND SURNAME].”



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