Coined by George Howard, blogger and professor of management at Loyola University in New Orleans, to do “The Straddle” means to balance your marketing in the offline and online worlds. To give you an example, my Summer Business School course was originally meant as a strictly online venture: to offer an online marketing course for small business owners. After technical difficulties required me to make some changes (and pivot!), I decided to add offline, in-person workshops to my training courses. This required my infiltrating the NYC entrepreneur networks, and offering my social media and online marketing skills to them.
Among many of the lessons I’ve learned from this summer’s microbusiness is that there is a thick community of entrepreneurs in New York City AND that they want to know how to market their businesses in online social networks.
As a Course Leader for Workshop In Business Opportunities (WIBO) “Start a Growing Profitable Business” workshop, I was a happy member of WIBO graduates and teachers in NYC. My original plan was to focus my marketing on them. But when I decided to Straddle my online course to offline students, I learned that New York City had even more opportunities and resources available for people starting, running, or relocating their businesses. And I wanted to explore all of the possibilities that had unfolded before me.
By searching for my target market in the flesh, I had the ability to talk to other entrepreneurs and learn what they needed. Did they need social media marketing help? Yes. Could I fill that gap? Yes. Has that been successful? Definitely! So before I could ever consider Summer Business School a failed online venture, I’m thankful for taking it offline, as that idea turned my business around.
But this also means that The Straddle works the other way around for offline businesses. For them, this means adding a Facebook page, and possibly a Twitter account to their online marketing portfolio. For 49% of small businesses in the US, it means having a website! In my opinion, it’s crazy that many businesses still don’t have one, but I hope that they’ll come around. Regardless of your product or service, prospective clients are looking for you online, and you want them to be able to find you.
So don’t be afraid to straddle between your online and offline worlds. You will learn a lot – and grow your business in the process.
“Straddling the Line” Photo Source: DeviantArt.com