One of the most powerful strategies for offline businesses using the Internet is expanding their market reach – that is, start selling their products or services into a wider region geographically. While not all offline businesses can do that, a lot more can than one might think at first glance.
It’s easy to see how a manufacturer, agent or retailer can expand their market reach – they need only accept orders online and ship the product worldwide. Similarly, a consultant can meet with individuals or committees anywhere in the world at any time through services like GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar. And a clergyman, even a lay preacher, can extend their Word by streaming sermons and advice through streaming video or online audio.
But it doesn’t stop there – offline businesses like real estate can also expand their reach through strategic use of the online technologies. Companies transferring executives around the world often need rentals or new homes for those employees, or the employee themselves will need to find new accommodations. Much easier, more efficient and cost-effective to use the Internet for most or all of long-distance house-hunting.
Also, if you’re a realtor or real estate agent with a website, blog or social media presence, have you started using the Internet to compile a list of targeted leads amongst real estate investors? There’s no need for the investors to live locally for them to recognize and purchase a wise investment in your area – especially if they invest in commercial properties or vacant lands.
Perhaps on the other hand you’re in a service industry, like those running offline businesses installing and monitoring alarm services, or a paving company. Obviously you’re not going to travel to another state, province or region for most jobs, but a strong online market reach will no doubt produce targeted leads in those areas too. Your solution? Use the Internet to find lesser-known professionals in your industry that service those areas and offer them those leads on a commission basis – since that local business has not marketing costs involved in servicing that prospect, it’s well worth the expense of paying you a percentage of what that prospect spends with them.
If you really work your online marketing and create a large volume of targeted leads, you may even decide to either expand your territory to include the busier areas or become a full-time lead broker in your industry. You might even find that it’s worthwhile to move your offline businesses if your efforts show much greater demand for it elsewhere.
Maybe you’re thinking of opening a branch office in another territory. Why go in cold, having to start from scratch? Use your Internet presence to announce your intentions, target leads from the new area and try to build a demand and a potential customer base in that new territory before even opening your new office there. Expanding the market reach of offline businesses into new territories before moving into them in the physical world can sure help the transition significantly, helping you overcome the growing pains of being a new startup business in those new areas.