Local Offline Marketers....Business Can Come From Strange Places....

by Jagged
35 replies
In marketing we are taught "sometimes you need to give away something free in order to receive something of value". A free eBook or report in exchange for sign-ups to your list, or a free membership in hopes of selling the OTO. It's done all the time...

I took this Idea & began playing with it with my offline business. Well, at first it did not start out that way, but I quickly saw the benefits. Here is how it all started.....

Some of you may remember from my Craigslist Success thread & other threads in the OT that I recently was the process of moving. We were planning to get all new furniture for the new house but didn't know exactly what to do with the old furniture. It was still in good shape & can surely help someone out.

I searched online for some charitable organizations who might make use of it. In doing so, I noticed how "plain" most non-profit charity sites were & how many of them were dysfunctional in some way or another...

I selected a local charity organization here in Tucson that helps children in Group homes. They use the furniture to set-up new group homes or to replace worn or broken furniture in existing group homes. I called to make an appointment to have the furniture picked-up...during our conversation I inquired about their website which was in serious need of a make-over & a few links were broken. They stated that with their budget it was hard to find people to maintain it properly.

It made me think....what a good thing to do to give back to my community...I offered to give their website a complete make-over & make it fully functional with direct donation links, etc...They were pleased to say the least.....all I asked for was a link on the bottom of the page linking to me as the designer, also I stated that If they referred anyone to me for any service I offered, I would donate back to them 10% of the total contract signed by the one's they referred. (If they refer a $2,000 website design client to me, they receive $200.00 & so on...)

A couple of weeks pass by when I get a phone call from someone who stated they were referred to us by this charity. 4 days later...another call...2 weeks later...another...

I began to think...what a great, unexpected way to get some fill-in business! I help charities who in turn help me...but by helping me, they actually help themselves...I felt I was giving back to the community by offering my services for free, the unexpected reward for that were the referrals.....those referrals turned into more donations for the charities....it was a total win-win for all involved.

I searched around online for more charities in the same position with their websites....I even found a couple local charities that had no website at all, which I ended up designing one for them "pro bono" of course....Some charities I never heard back from again, but a couple others have referred new business my way. One charity alone I issued a donation check totaling close to $900.00, with referrals for various services...

Now, my business has a standing offer to any local charitable or non-profit organization in my home town....where I will build them a new website, or re-design / repair the one they have...no charge.....I'll host it FREE too...

I felt I was giving back to the community by giving my free service, the charities were receiving something of value, I in return received the value referrals


Any one just starting out in the offline arena might look into this "give something free to receive something of value" concept....
  • It turned into a great way to build a client list
  • It helps give those beginning some much needed experience
  • It helps those who have no portfolio to quickly build one
  • It gets your new business much needed recognition in your community
  • Many other local businesses work hand in hand with these charities & will take notice!
Naturally I can not guarantee success with this in every community...it's just something I stumbled into. There was no set plan to do this, it just worked out that way. But I think it can work in most cases & might be worth a try to those new to the offline business who aren't afraid of a little work to grow their business....It's intended as a "foot in the door" & not as a business plan....it won't make you rich & I doubt it will bring in any fortune 500 clients...


I have not done any of these yet, but thinking about it more, there are some great ways to use those charities to promote your business....
  • Have the charity release a local press release announcing the opening or re-opening of their website, with mention of your business naturally...
  • Generate your own local press release announcing your intended "Pro-Bono" work with non-profit organizations...
Many times charities or non-profit organizations are overlooked as potential clients for your offline business...thinking they have no money for your services. But if you work with them...add a little creativity....it really can be beneficial to everyone....."Give back something free....in order to receive something of value!"

No WSO's will come of this, No eBooks will suddenly emerge....(not by me anyways...lol) just passing along some "off the beaten path" info that might help some along the way...

Good luck,
Ken...
#charities #local #marketersbusiness #offline #offline marketers #places #strange
  • Profile picture of the author davidofderbyshire
    Good karma buddy
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    • Profile picture of the author jaykoebele
      Bump.

      Awesome story. Good stuff.

      Worthy of sharing with others.

      Have a great weekend.

      Jay in Kansas
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  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    Yeah, I've thought about this. I've given a lot of advice
    to non-profits over the years, and written a few sales letters,
    but never a real makeover... sometimes they are too
    disorganized or "touchy feely" with their values to
    realize they are in the business of selling people on the
    idea of giving the MONEY.... which pretty much follows
    the same laws that all marketing follows, from selling
    dirty books to passing the plate at church - it's all
    about getting people to part with money because it
    makes them feel they'll be the better for it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mr. Enthusiastic
    Thanks, Ken, this is inspiring. I guess one factor to consider is whether the charity is running on fumes, as this home was, or is the well-funded darling of jet-setting socialites with its own million dollar building. In the latter case a regular fee would be more appropriate, wouldn't it?
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    • Profile picture of the author Jagged
      Originally Posted by Mr. Enthusiastic View Post

      Thanks, Ken, this is inspiring. I guess one factor to consider is whether the charity is running on fumes, as this home was, or is the well-funded darling of jet-setting socialites with its own million dollar building. In the latter case a regular fee would be more appropriate, wouldn't it?

      So far I have not not found any of the well-funded type of charities that are in need of this...site like the united way, save the children type of "national or world wide" organizations usually have enough funds to run well designed, well managed websites, being backed heavily by large corporations...

      One's I am coming across are the local animal rescue groups, womens shelters, childrens organizations....not national known..... where they do operate daily on a shoe-string budget....that's my main focus.


      Originally Posted by Kevin Regier View Post

      Wow great idea. I have been trying to build a client base for an offline consulting business and can use all the techniques like this. Thanks you.
      Hi Kevin,

      Sometimes the more "normal" or standard ways to get local clients are also some of the harder to do for the offline novice. Cold Calling is great but definately not for everyone. Same goes for visiting local businesses in person...for me it worked well...but for the next guy or gal they can visit 100 businesses without a nibble...

      I see it as another way to get your foot in the door. So far I am doing OK with this but others may try this and think I'm talking out of my ass....

      You can also use charity situations like this as icebreakers at local business networking functions, chamber meetings, meet-up groups, etc...
      "Hey...your with TucsonMerchant.com....the one's who re-designed my wifes favorite charities website".....or....."Excuse me, but aren't you the owner of XYZ Widgets? I see that you are a supporter of the local pet shelter...I just re-designed their website....have you seen it yet?"

      Sometimes an icebreaker or an excuse to talk is all we need to open doors....being creative can open a lot of doors.

      For entry level offline marketers...this is another option for you to grow your business, enhance your talents & gain local reconition doing it...

      ...Ken
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  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    Goodwill is often worth more in the long run than the
    dollars you would have charged. Pro Bono work will
    get people talking - but don't do it for groups that
    are run by feeble or stupid people who are too disorganized
    to remember to refer others to you. People are not
    necessarily ungrateful, but if you do free work for a
    charity run by, for example, stoners, don't expect
    much in the way of referrals.
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    • Profile picture of the author Voyager64
      Hi Ken,

      Same wavelength!

      I did the same thing here in Torquay UK. The charity loved it and whats more the guy who runs the charity owns 2 actual profit making businesses and I got to redesign both of his websites as well, for a nice tasty wedge!!

      With the charity website I have an arrangement whereby I add a product page with actual products on it that I dont sell anywhere else. Any sales coming from that link the charity gets 50% of the sale value. Win win situation

      Keep up the good work

      Jon Lake
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Ken, if you watch any of the quasi-reality shows that feature celebrities competing for charity, you might be surprised at some of the grass-roots level charities they support.

        > Joan Rivers works with a NYC charity that makes and delivers meals to shut-ins.
        > Michael Chiarello (Top Chef Masters) supports a Napa Valley charity that works with migrant workers.
        > Many pro athletes work with local charities that focus on at-risk youth.

        I think it was Harvey Mackay, in one of his books, that said that one of the best ways to reach the rich, famous and powerful in your town is to work with local charities.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Regier
    Wow great idea. I have been trying to build a client base for an offline consulting business and can use all the techniques like this. Thanks you.
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  • Profile picture of the author moneycometh
    This was a great post. Started the juices to flowing about how I can emulate this technique in my offline business. Keep up the great work.
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  • Profile picture of the author iw433
    Hey Ken,
    will have to see if it works up North in Flag!
    Thanks
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Riddle
    Ken,

    That's how I started way back when doing work for not-for profit groups and some charities.

    As was said earlier you do have to be choosy about which ones to work with if you are looking for referrals.

    County Historical societies and arts preservation councils were some of my biggest supporters.


    Mark Riddle
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    Today isn't Yesterday, - Products are everywhere if your eyes are Tuned!
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    • Profile picture of the author Jagged
      Originally Posted by Mark Riddle View Post

      Ken,

      That's how I started way back when doing work for not-for profit groups and some charities.

      As was said earlier you do have to be choosy about which ones to work with if you are looking for referrals.

      County Historical societies and arts preservation councils were some of my biggest supporters.


      Mark Riddle

      Hi Mark,

      I have been lucky so far in that I haven't come across anyone who wasn't legit or a true pain to work for.....most have been very appreciative & over 1/2 have sent through at least one referral so far.

      So far they have been more on the charitable side than non-profit groups. More like animal shelters, elder care, chidrens groups. I opened my offer to include local non-profits...so far only 1 has taken me up on my offer...
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      • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
        Nice idea.

        Referrals are a powerful way to get clients and if you're referred by an organization a business owner trusts your chance of converting that referral into a paying client is very good.

        Your idea is not just limited to charities either.

        Many not for profit sporting associations (and other not for profit organizations) have a large member base of business owners and would love to have someone help them out with their internet marketing in exchange for giving you referrals.

        Kindest regards,
        Andrew Cavanagh
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Brian
    This reminds me of Cashflow101 game where in as a businessman, you are required to give back to charity. Yours is a real life example of it and why giving back is good.
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  • Profile picture of the author mazearn
    Kevin, first nice of you to think of helping them without anything in return.
    Secondly: Kind Of Input = Kind Of Output

    Good job and thanks for sharing.
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    • Profile picture of the author gavins
      You can also look at any friends who are small business owners who in this climate are struggling and can't afford to build a website or have a "brochure" website

      Develop an optimized website for their business for free, you host it and provide the domain name (use wordpress and free theme) and just think of the karma you receive for doing something so helpful to a friend who is in need.
      All I asked when i did this is pls just pass on my name when you see someone who comments on the site and a link in the footer.
      Amazing how many people you get referred because of this
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  • Profile picture of the author goliathseo
    I know what you all mean and I agree with you all. The one thing that most people DONT realize is that referrals and "word of mouth" are very powerful.
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  • Profile picture of the author Hugh
    Ken,

    Great post! You've really got me thinking.

    Hugh
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    "Never make someone a priority in your life who makes you an option in theirs." Anon.
    "Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon." -- Winston Churchill

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    • Profile picture of the author kf
      Nice share Ken. Don't forget to put a monetary value on the work you do - most charities will write you a donation receipt.
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      • Profile picture of the author Jagged
        Originally Posted by kf View Post

        Nice share Ken. Don't forget to put a monetary value on the work you do - most charities will write you a donation receipt.
        Thats something I haven't done with any of them or even though of yet. I guess it never hurts to ask....thanks for the suggestion...
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        • Profile picture of the author netkid
          Ken,

          Nice job you did in Tucson! I used to live in the far east Tucson valley myself.

          I did a freebie offline business blog for a local charity here in Phoenix a month ago and they gave me referrals without me even saying a word. Good karma goes a long way!

          Keep up the great work down there in Tucson.

          Regards,

          Bruce
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  • Profile picture of the author Kylerudy
    There are a number of great ways to promote your online business offline. Combining offline advertising with your online presence will create momentum and increase your profits. I am going to focus on three offline techniques in particular newspaper advertising, customized million dollar bills and flyers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Lagarde
    Ken - Be sure to put your non-profits contacts into your autoresponder and get an email out to them at least every 10 days. You can setup a Google alert, or search for RSS feeds, with search terms such as:
    local business marketing

    This way you won't run out of interesting articles and links to send to your list. Even better, you will be regularly reminding them you are still out there!
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    • Profile picture of the author Sissy76
      I was talking to my husband about this idea just the other day. So glad to have come across someone who has put it in action - with success.
      Thanks for posting, will certainly help me get my idea off the ground.

      Cheers,
      Sissy
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    • Profile picture of the author Jagged
      Originally Posted by Chris Lagarde View Post

      Ken - Be sure to put your non-profits contacts into your autoresponder and get an email out to them at least every 10 days. You can setup a Google alert, or search for RSS feeds, with search terms such as:
      local business marketing

      This way you won't run out of interesting articles and links to send to your list. Even better, you will be regularly reminding them you are still out there!
      Good suggstion Chris, I will implement the autoresponder Idea right away. Like I said, all this was done on a whim, no plans what so ever....But I can see now...with a little thought & planning, someone can actually take this method & do very well with it...
      Thanks...
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  • Profile picture of the author Jackie Tulos
    That's a great way to help your community out. I have been looking for ways to get new clients for my consulting business and this looks like a great way.

    Thanks for the info.
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    • Profile picture of the author chris190
      I have done the same thing with similar results. I went a step further in hosting the charity sites as well - so they had no outgoings at all.
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      Chris
      Northern VA

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  • Profile picture of the author kellysharali
    Kudos to you! I am currently helping an old neighbor of mine raise money for her heart transplant. She has a lot of help from her church members and also her community but I want to take this effort online and build her a website and see if I can get donations from people. I think we all need to give back in more ways than one.
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  • Profile picture of the author Always-A-Warrior
    That's a great idea. Charities - yes, I will go out and try your tip. Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sandeep Shah
    What goes around comes around
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  • Profile picture of the author Ron Hitson
    Thanks for the story.....
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    "Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody"
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  • Profile picture of the author freudianslip27
    Very cool idea Ken

    I'm thinking of doing this myself, but focusing on something that will take less of my time. Perhaps getting local charities on facebook would work? That wouldn't take as much time but would still be beneficial. I could also sit down and coach them how to use social media.

    Thanks for getting my wheels spinning!

    Matt
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  • Profile picture of the author bobsstuff
    This is a GREAT post me. In the back of my mind I have had some local charities I'd like to support "when I get enough money". This is a way to support them sooner.

    Times are tough for individuals, but charities are suffering also. Our local "Toys For Tots" is/was having a shortfall of cash and toys this year due to many more families in need. Marines sponsor it here.

    I have a lot on my plate right now, but I am definitely going to see what it will take for me to get involved in the next couple of months.

    Thanks for posting this wonderful idea. (This is an older post, I wonder how I missed it --- I wonder how many great posts are missed here in the WF)
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    Bob Hale
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