Small business owners will often talk about their target market in terms of B2B or B2C. For those weary of acronyms, this stands for Business to Business or Business to Consumer. In recent years the new kid on the block is O2O. This stands for Online to Offline and it is mighty potent stuff to fuel your marketing.
The real mojo behind O2O is the concept of seeing your online activity as the hub of your marketing. As John Jantsch explains, “The Web and digital interactivity now represent the center of the marketing universe.” John predicted that “O2O will become strategy” and I agree that we’ll see more in 2012. So now a small business owner needs more than a web brochure. Small businesses need to create a robust hub of content and communication online and then create spokes that add up to a total web presence. Each online outpost should be translating the experience to offline function facilitating sales and service. The offline stage can be as simple as a phone consultation or face to face interaction. This applies to retailers as much as service based professionals.
Even if a prospect starts off with an offline experience initially, they will likely turn to the web in some form to validate and investigate their first impression. The online content needs to answer the question, “Can you solve my problem?” If your website is lackluster and you have no outposts to support what makes you different, then the prospect is only clicks away from a competitor.
The concept of O2O is best demonstrated by the success of Groupon for local businesses. In TechCrunch a blog post, “The key to O2O is that it finds consumers online and brings them into real-world stores. It is a combination of payment model and foot traffic generator for merchants (as well as a “discovery” mechanism for consumers) that creates offline purchases.” Groupon can facilitate the O2O for local businesses in the social arena as the same article explains: “FedEx can’t deliver social experiences like restaurants, bars, Yoga, sailing, tennis lessons, or pole dancing, but Groupon does.”
This is bigger than traditional advertising because you can measure the online transactions and test different messages to improve your marketing as you go without the skewed results of a focus group or the wasteful spending of gambling with the “flavor of the week.”
At the core of O2O, it’s important to focus your strategy on a robust center of online presence that connects to equally value-packed outposts that help guide your client through an easy, hassle-free buying experience to the final offline interaction with your business.