Career & Finance

How To Take Your Online Business Offline


You may recognize the name Jaclyn Johnson for her entrepreneurial prowess: She is the founder of (No Subject)—a full service digital marketing, events, and influencer agency—and the woman at the helm of Create & Cultivate, the conference for female, millennial entrepreneurs working in the digital space. 

In less than five years, Create & Cultivate has evolved into a nationwide event series with hundreds of attendees, and (No Subject) has expanded its client list to include major companies like Urban Decay, Nasty Gal, and L’Oreal Paris. While both the conference and her company focus primarily on digital, Jaclyn credits “old school” marketing strategies as key to her success. Here, she shares some tips on how to take your business offline and bring your brand, product, or business to life in the real world.  

Host a branded event.

Whether it’s a pop-up shop or a launch party, branding your event through a living, breathing experience is a great way to spoon-feed your identity and message directly to your end consumer. It can be as simple as partering with a non-competitive brand for a pop-up sale to bring your online site to a group of customers where they can see the tangible products themselves—like Frances Loom in the photo below.

Source: Frances Loom

At SXSW this past year, for example, Create & Cultivate hosted its first pop-up conference with Laurel and Wolfe. We had tinkered with the idea of a pop-up for a while, and it was a serious success. It was a mini C&C with shorter and fewer panels, but the wealth of information was still there. Not only was it a way to get the name and brand out to a new market, but it also gave our existing audience something they’d been asking for. If your audience asks, it means they want something.

Good old fashioned human connection can be invaluable.

As a business person, it’s your job to actively listen for new opportunities and challenges and respond. Invite your followers, subscriber base or customers to the party and meet them in person. Events allow for you to clearly explain, in offline terms, who you are and what your business is all about. Good old fashioned human connection can be invaluable. Humanizing a business-to-consumer relationship and making it personal will enhance the connection to your brand and ultimately foster more online engagement. 

Create a “living” campaign. 

Creating a marketing campaign with real people will benefit your brand both online and off. For example, if you’re a blogger focusing on DIY, organize a photo shoot highlighting local DIY talent. Turn those images into cross-functional content that can be used online via social media and blogs, but also offline with a regional PR push. The same concept can be applied to a business, whether it offers a product or a service. Highlighting clients and customers is a great way to bring what you to do to life. 

For instance, we recently partnered with Marriott to create city guides for female entrepreneurs in key markets across the U.S. We’re interviewing and profiling women in each city, and in turn, they share those conversations and profiles with their audiences. It’s a reciprocal relationship that benefits both parties involved. Your business can’t be insular. It won’t work. So, find unique ways to collaborate in person, and capitalize on opportunities to share those experiences. It’s called a “living campaign” because it allows your business to thrive offline.

Source: Jaclyn Johnson

Participate in a conference.

Conferences are an amazing way to reach your end consumer in-person while leaving much of the planning and work to someone else. Whether you participate in a panel, create a branded lounge space or put together a mini pop-up shop, the right conference will offer a built-in following of your core demographic. 

Often, conferences welcome a range of brands, sponsors, talent ,and attendees so can also be a great way to establish who you “sit with” in terms of counterparts and competitors. Because décor, design, attendance, food and drink, entertainment, and all event details are generally managed by the conference itself, all you have to do is show up, share who you are, and demonstrate what you do.

Information provided during panels can be especially valuable, and they’re also an avenue for hands-on communication to happen in “real life.” The speakers, sponsors, and attendees ALL have the same opportunity for day-of engagement. The conference gets you in the right space; what you do while you’re there is up to you.

Source: Tana Gandhi

Launch a product.

Tangibility goes a long way. Often, consumers like to hold and feel commodities in their hands before buying into them, so developing a product as an extension of your online business is a great way to get in front of a target consumer.

Maybe it’s something you plan to sell, a great “gift with purchase,” or a promotional campaign. Developing a “thing” that is as cool and original as what you do online is a big return on investment. The world certainly doesn’t need more unoriginal key chains or ballpoint pens, so think beyond typical promo items.

Make sure your product is legitimate enough to stand alone and original enough to stand out. When something is beautifully designed, people want to take photos. When they take photos, they share. And all of the sudden people want to know what “it” is. An alternative is that they carry “it” around with them and someone asks where they got it. It’s both social and word-of-mouth marketing. If you’re a startup, it’s all about coming up with an engaging idea and product that will appeal to your audience. Then, use your existing platforms and partnerships to promote it like crazy.

Have you had success transitioning your business offline? What tips can you share?