How to Get Offline Customers Engaged With Your Online Marketing

Can digital marketing work even if your target market isn’t your typical ‘online audience’? You bet, but it all relies on knowing what to write about and where to publish your content …

This week on Hit Publish, listener Tom submitted his question for the Dear Amy column. He wondered how he could get more of his customers engaging with his online marketing. The challenge is that Tom’s audience are more likely to spend their time in an industrial workshop than reading a blog post. So can you still capture their attention with online content? Yes you can.

There are 5 steps you’ll want to follow, and what’s great about these five steps is that they work for offline and online audiences. So if you want to increase the engagement with your content generally, these steps are going to help.

Tune in to this episode to find out:

  • The one thing you need to know about your target market before you can create any engaging content
  • Why your customers may only ‘appear’ to not hang out online (sometimes you need to know where to look)
  • The right way to hijack an audience so that you can automatically publish to a warmed-up crowd
  • How to make sure the content you write is set up to engage your audience and get their attention

The Show Notes

How to Get Offline Customers Engaged With Your Online Marketing

Voiceover: Rainmaker.FM is brought to you by The Showrunner Podcasting Course, your step-by-step guide to developing, launching, and running a remarkable show. Registration for the course is open August 3rd through the 14th, 2015. Go to to learn more. That’s

Amy Harrison: Hello this is Amy Harrison and you’re listening to Hit Publish, where I cover simple ways to get better results with your online business.

This week we’re looking at how you can get more engagement with your digital marketing materials, especially if you suspect your audience isn’t a typical ‘online audience.’ I’m going to show you how to identify and seek out your target market and get them interacting with your online content.

I want to thank you for downloading this podcast and I want to thank Rainmaker.FM for hosting it.

Are you ready to create content that can attract an online and an offline crowd? Let’s Hit Publish.

Welcome back to another episode of Hit Publish. Before we get into our Dear Amy letter of the week, I need to reveal the word of the week.

Each week I hide a word within Hit Publish. It’s not revealed in the transcript, instead it’s there to enhance the auditory experience of listeners.

This week’s word is: petrous, which means like stone, especially in hardness, stony or rocky.

Petrous. Keep your ears open for this cheeky little word.

With that hidden, it’s now time for Dear Amy, which comes from a Hit Publish listener, Tom, who posted his question in the comments for a previous show.

Dear Amy,

How do you get customers who are not normally engaged online (Industrial Industry, lots of shop guys) to engage with our digital marketing?

That is a great question, especially if you’re trying to appeal to an audience that traditionally moves in offline circles. Maybe you’re like Tom and you’re trying to appeal to people who are more industrial than digital, people who spend their time in workshop, or engineering, or construction for example.

What’s interesting is that the tips I’m going to give you today will help whether your audience is already engaged online, OR if you’re trying to reach people offline. The process I’m going to walk you through works for both.

There are 5 steps to this process, so let’s just get into it:

Step One: You Have to Really Know Who it is You Want to Attract

Dating agent: Hello and welcome to The Last Resort dating agency.
Amy: My friend said you might be able to find me a boyfriend?
Dating agent: Of course, we use a very complex algorithm to match you with your perfect date. So, what’s important to you in a partner?
Amy: Well, I’m pretty easygoing, but humour is important. I like someone who can make me laugh.
Dating agent: – Excellent, we can certainly help you there.
[restaurant sounds]
Clive: Excuse me…
Amy: Oh! Oh… umm… Sorry, I’m about to meet someone I think I saw a kids party is in the function room… Do you want me to call the waiter?
Clive: No, it’s me! The agency sent me. I’m Clive.
Amy: Oh. Pleased to meet you.
Amy: Ow!
Clive: Ha! Gotcha. Electric hand buzzer. Classic. Your face.
Amy: Right.
Clive: Oh, I made you something.
[Squeaking noises]
Clive: It’s a balloon poodle.
Amy: I [whistle] look [whistle] do you [whistle] do you have to do that when I speak?
Clive: First rule of clowning, you’re never off-duty. This is going to be fun!
Dating agent: Hello and welcome to The Last Reso… oh, Miss Harrison. How are you getting on with your dates?
Amy: I think your algorithm is wonky.
Dating agent: Oh dear, let me pull up the records of your last few dates shall we. Hmmm, first date. You said you wanted humour, so we sent you Clive. He’s a clown you know.
Amy: All the time apparently, he turned up in a full costume.
Dating agent: Yes, he does make an effort. Did you get a…
Amy: Balloon poodle? Yes. As well as a party bag with sweets and toys. That bit actually wasn’t that bad but it was not an ideal date.
Dating agent: Hmmm, okay, next date we matched to your next criteria. You said being tall was important to you.
Amy: You sent a giraffe.
Dating agent: Very tall isn’t he.
Amy: He ate the ceiling fan. I’m not allowed back.
Dating agent: Okay, well what about this: “I want someone who looks like George Clooney.”
Amy: When I got to the restaurant there was just a framed photo of George Clooney on the table.
Dating agent: Look Miss Harrison, the algorithm works perfectly. If you’ve had bad dates it’s because you don’t really know what it is you want in a partner. That’s the problem.

Amy Harrison: Now while I would question The Last Resort’s dating algorithm, the agent makes a very good point. If you want to attract the right person to you and your business, you need to know who it is you want to attract.

In any kind of marketing campaign this is always the first step in creating engaging content. Because for your content to engage, you have to know what your audience is going to find interesting.

And this is the same whether your audience moves online or offline. But, what do you need to know? Well I’ll link to some resources that will help you build a marketing persona, but in terms of content creation, the main thing you’re going to want to know is:

One: What are some of the current issues they’re facing today that your product can help with?

For example, let’s say you’re trying to sell clothing and equipment to construction or manufacturing workshops. And you might be targeting the site manager who decides on whether or not to make these purchases. So what might the issues be in this situation?

  • It could be that he’s worried about health and safety. Perhaps there are a number of inspections lined up in the current months and he wants to make sure the site gets a good record.
  • Maybe he’s concerned about professional image and making sure the firm looks smart when working at client sites.
  • It might also be job timings, and looking for ways to increase output by making his employees more effective.

When you start generating themes and topics along these lines you can start coming up with content ideas that will interest your audience because it’s what they’re already thinking about. So in this case, you might do a series of articles outlining tips for choosing equipment that meets health and safety standards, or about ways you can look professional to clients, or how certain equipment is essential for improving productivity.

So the first step is to know who you want to reach and the issues that are bothering them.

Step Two: You Have to Know Where to Find Your Ideal Customers

Now, in this day and age, more and more people interact with digital marketing materials at some point. So if you’re struggling to attract the right people to your content and your business, it might not be that they’re not online, it might be that you’re putting your content in the wrong places.

Business consultant and speaker Pam Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation and Body of Work, writes about identifying watering holes where your audience might be.

[jungle sounds]
Amy 1: Amy, what are you doing?
Amy 2: Well I read that article by Pam Slim and she said it was important to find a watering hole so that you can share your content and marketing there. So, I found this watering hole. (An oasis in an otherwise stony African landscape), grabbed some leaflets and brochures and here I am. Just waiting for customers to show up.
Amy 1: Did you read the whole article?
Amy 2: I may have skimmed over it, why?
Amy 1: Pam wasn’t talking about an actual watering hole. She meant places, online and in person, where a great concentration of your ideal customers hang out. Such as blogs, forums, conferences and events.
Amy 2: Oh, that would make more sense. For the last half hour I’ve just been eyeballing that lion.
Amy 1: I don’t think that was a good idea.
Amy 2: We should run shouldn’t we?
Amy 1: Yes, we should!

Amy Harrison: The idea of a watering hole is a place where your ideal customer already hangs out. So think about the kind of digital content your customers do read. Even if you think your target market is traditionally ‘offline’ there will be industry content that they read. This might be trade publications, it might be newsletter from Trade or Industry associations.

A great way to get your content in front of an engaged audience is to partner with, or create content for industry influencers.

Again, let’s say you’re trying to sell work clothes into construction companies. Perhaps you build a relationship with a number of trade associations, or membership groups. You might find that they do have an active online audience and you could submit a guest post to their blog, or submit an article with tips to be linked to in their next membership mail or email.

So first of all, think about where your audience is, and the content they tend to read and secondly, aim to publish your digital marketing content in those areas.

Now, this brings me onto my next step, because you might be thinking: “Oh, this website won’t accept marketing content from me if I’m trying to sell something.” So here’s the key.

Step Three: When Creating Content, Make It Valuable to the Reader

Listen to the difference in this situation.

Amy 1: Hey, did you read that article I sent you?
Amy 2: No, I’ve been too busy trying to fix my car.
Amy 1: But I really needed you to read it! It was all about me. It was a story all about this great day that I’d had, and I tell you about all the good things that happen to me and brag a little bit about why I’m so great. When do you think you’ll be able to read it?
Amy 2: Probably never.

Amy Harrison: Now let’s listen to a different scenario.

Amy 1: Hey, did you read that article I sent you?
Amy 2: No, I’ve been too busy trying to fix my car.
Amy 1: Oh, what’s wrong with it?
Amy 2: It’s the riptackle sprocket. I’ve been trying forever to find out a way to loosen it off and replace it. I’ve already wasted most of the day.
Amy 1: Ah, well you need to read that article. It’s a step-by-step guide with pictures on how to replace a riptackle sprocket on this exact make and model of car.
Amy 2: Oh wow, let me read it now.

Amy Harrison: Okay, I know there is no such thing as a riptackle sprocket in cars, but that’s a minor point. What’s important is that your content should be to help the reader first, and promote your product second. It is much easier to build engagement to an article that is valuable than one that is a straight up sales piece or an advert.

Up to now you know who you want to reach and where they might be hanging out online, but if you want to write content that gets their attention it has to help them with one of the issues you identified in step one. It doesn’t have to solve the problem completely, but it should be useful to them.

There is an excellent example of a company in the US that has done this very well, appealing to traditional workshop people rather than a more online audience. And this example leads me into my fourth step which is:

Step Four: If You Have a Mostly Offline Audience, Give Them a Reason to Go Online

Stewart MacDonald supplies parts and tools for guitar-makers and other instrument makers. Their audience is mostly found in a workshop amidst sawdust than at a computer surrounded by website.

So, for years, Stewart MacDonald produced a print publication called “Trade secrets.” In it, well-respected luthiers and instrument makers would share their expert tips on anything from construction, to sourcing materials, to finishing and repair work. It built a huge audience and now, Stewart MacDonald have moved that resource online. They also issue regular emails that will give you some kind of instrument building tips while also listing the products they have used in the process.

High value AND promotes their products. Perfect.

Here’s what I love and what you can learn from Stewart MacDonald:

Every piece of content they publish is high-quality and valuable to someone. Not every tip will resonate with everyone, but they publish so many, you stay signed up to the newsletter because you know you just might learn something that is going to save you time, or money or boost your image as an instrument maker.

They reached out to their audience offline first, because that’s where they were, and this is what I’d say to you. If your audience is not online, if you’ve really searched and the people you want to reach don’t read blogs, or forums, then look at publishing content in more traditional routes and give them a reason to go online. Perhaps you print a tip sheet and link to your website where they can find more in-depth advice, or maybe you leave how-to leaflets at trade events to again drive people to find more content online.

To get people engaged with your digital marketing content you have to:

  • Know who you want to reach
  • Know what is important to them
  • Give them valuable content
  • Reach out to where they are offline if they’re not yet online

And my final tip would be this:

Step Five: Publish Consistently

A couple of weeks ago we looked at how to publish content consistently even when life gets in the way. What I would say is that one of the biggest advantages you are going to have in building engagement, is to keep showing up. Too many businesses give up too quickly because they don’t see results straight away. It can take time, so use this plan to map out regular content pieces and then make a commitment to publish regularly in those spots that you have identified as being your perfect watering holes.

So, here’s what I would love you to do.

Head on over to the showpage at and let me know, where do your customers hang out and how are you planning to get your content in front of them. If you want me to help you with suggestions for topics or themes that will be useful to your audience, let me know in the comments. I’m here to help.

Thank you for being a wise Hit Publish listener. If you’ve found this useful today I’d love it if you popped over to iTunes and left a rating and a review. It takes just a few minutes but apparently every review keeps the world spinning round. So that’s important.

Don’t forget, if you’d like to be featured in the Dear Amy column, simply leave a comment on the show page with your question or problem, or email me using

That’s all for this week, so until next time, remember to take action and Hit Publish.