In 2018, research from communications company IDG found that 89% of businesses had already adopted a digital-first business strategy – or were planning to do so – while 55% of start-ups reported choosing a fully digital business strategy.

When the world is going digital, it is natural for businesses to go along with the trend.

But there are significant benefits to taking some of your marketing offline.

An offline marketing strategy helps businesses to expand on their online success thereby increasing their overall return on investment.

Physical events, such as conferences, seminars, and trade shows, are key for networking, providing businesses with real-world forums in which to meet other businesses and prospective customers relevant to their sector.

Some businesses rent space for temporary ‘pop up’ shops, which allow digitally native businesses to test out a physical space where they can meet their customers.

Pop-up shops don’t necessarily have to work as a sales-led space either – they can be just as effective for generating leads.

More Than Words note – Shopify has this guide for businesses interested in opening a pop up shop, which includes information about the market as it stands, the benefits and how to get started.

As competition for digital ad space grows, physical events are a reliable alternative for lead generation.

A report from event management platform Bizzabo found that 41% of the companies surveyed considered event marketing their most valuable channel for lead generation.

In the same study, 85% of respondents in leadership roles (Senior Managers, Executives, and Board Members) agreed that in-person events are essential to the success of their business.

Events provide one of the most efficient ways for a business to build a large number of professional connections at once – and market their business, products and services in a space where advertising is both expected and encouraged.

For success at industry events, where you have limited time and a large number of influential people from your sector to meet, business representatives should create and perfect an ‘elevator pitch’ before they attend.

An elevator pitch is a brief introduction of yourself and a summary of the work you do, in order to quickly outline the benefits and features of your business.

Social media is an asset for trialling elevator pitches – allowing you to test and measure elevator pitch ideas in a way that is well-suited to the medium, with limited space available and immediate responses from your audience.

More Than Words note – we think Indeed has one of the best guides to creating and delivering an elevator pitch, which includes common mistakes to avoid.

Different types of events will be valuable to different types of businesses and situations.

Trade fairs

Trade fairs (sometimes called trade shows) tend to be targeted to specific sectors and are there to help businesses discover new suppliers and learn more about industry developments.

For example, Marketing Week Live! (MLW) in London is a trade fair for marketing and data companies, geared towards education and networking. Thus, attendees of MLW are generally those that play an important part in the decision-making process for purchasing marketing and data services in their own businesses.

Trade shows can be expensive to attend, but if your objective is to generate leads and make sales, this is one of the most profitable ways to do so.

At larger trade shows with thousands of attendees, a business might expect to get an average of 200+ visitors to their exhibition booth in just one day.

That means 200 potential customers that you can connect with on a personal level, and great potential for building important ongoing relationships.

According to the Simmons Market Research Bureau, almost half of all attendees to trade shows make purchases there and then, while 91% of attendees consider their visits ‘extremely useful’ to their product and service procurement activities.

Where online marketing relies on capturing attention from decision-makers that are otherwise distracted by other tasks, at a trade show the majority of people you meet will be there solely to meet with and find out more about suppliers.


An exposition (also known as an expo) is a large-scale trade show, based on geographical location more than specific industry niches.

As with the trade fairs, expos are a valuable way to meet and connect with your target audience, as well as learn more about the industry you are in.

Make sure you look at who else will be exhibiting and who will be attending to assess whether an expo is relevant to your line of business.

Networking events

Networking events provide a physical space where businesspeople can swap business cards, make introductions to themselves and their business and share information with fellow attendees.

Networking is a useful way to gain new contacts and many networking professionals go to the same events time and time again, allowing them to build relationships with contacts over time.

The less formal nature of networking events can be disconcerting for some marketers, as you are having conversations rather than delivering sales pitches, but there are rules that you can follow to get more out of networking:

  1. have a goal – decide what your objective is before you attend the event and use your interactions to accomplish that goal,
  2. listen – let the other person speak first after you have introduced yourself. It allows the other person to set the tone and ensures that by the time you speak they will be ready to listen,
  3. be concise – although you are not delivering a ‘pitch’ as such, have 2-3 sentences about what you do prepared for when you are asked. This prevents you from overtaking the conversation and losing the interest of people you speak with, and
  4. follow up – even if you have nothing that you want to sell at this time, a follow-up email expressing that you enjoyed meeting them and mentioning a point or two that you talked about helps them to remember you and stay warm to future contact with you.

The next step up from attending events is speaking at them.

Speaking at events helps businesspeople to showcase their expertise and gain more visibility in their local community, industry or niche. But to be invited to speak you first need to gain a reputation that makes event organisers want to invite you.

The first thing you need to do is become a regular attendee of the types of events you would like to speak at.

Not only does this allow you to build relationships with key event organisers, it also allows you to assess the audience and content of each event, so that you can write a more convincing pitch.

When you are offered speaking opportunities, make sure to film your speech and upload it across all of your platforms.

Prior speaking experience adds credibility and allows event organisers to see what they can expect when you attend their event.

More Than Words note – Cvent’s blog offers 8 essential tips for businesses looking to get speaking opportunities at conferences and events. Read it here.

Printed content is another way to engage your audience offline. If your business has a premises or sends paper invoices, there are marketing opportunities here too.

Because the business world is largely digital now, printed materials hold more weight than ever before, and leaves a lasting impression – particularly when accompanied by a physical introduction.

Invoices and business cards are an example of this, with businesses reporting 25% higher sales for every 2000 business cards handed out, according to Wordstream.

Invoices offer a significant opportunity to relay key points of your service, or promote offers for return customers, alongside a document that customers tend to keep.

Another option is print media, such as newspapers and magazines.

Businesses can choose between taking out ad space in printed publications and writing or collaborating on an article.

Both options attract fresh readers and increase local exposure, although establishing authority and gaining trust is more easily achieved with useful, informational articles.

Consider integrating your digital and traditional marketing strategies in order to see the most significant returns from your marketing efforts.

A print advertisement could contain a digital element such as a QR code, or a bold visual style that translates across to your product landing page for a sense of cohesion across your entire marketing strategy.

More Than Words note – take a look at Pica9’s compilation of print ads that make a real impact on the viewer for further inspiration.

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