18 Kick-Ass Offline Growth Hacks

I’ve been doing SEO for years – and in fact, I’m doing it now full-time for an eCom company in Hong Kong. 99.9% of what I do (currently) is digital marketing related, but in a previous life, I did do a lot of Growth Hacking stuff that involved Offline Growth Hacks so I thought to share some of those in this resource.

This page will remain a sticky resource and I’ll add to it over the year.

Offline Growth Hack: 1 QR Code On Your Biz Card!

This is a must – and it converts.

An old practice in business that remains prevalent in most western cities around the world – and especially in the APAC region – is the exchanging of business cards.

Let’s face it: most business cards will be thrown away or put in a cable/drawer at home or the office, which serves a very similar purpose to the cable/drawer everyone seems to have in their home or office.

In any event, the exchanging of business cards is something that is still very popular in the city.

So, let’s put them to greater use!

Novelty, and creative business cards such as origami designs, may generate a degree of interest in the products or services that you’re selling.

There are two purposes to giving out a business card:

  1. To elicit contact from the recipient of the card (best, and preferred case);
  2. To get the recipient to learn more about you (second-best case)

This hack explains how to activate the second-best scenario, specifically, how to divert the offline recipient online, and therefore give you an opportunity to convince them of your services.

An engaging way of doing this is to include a QR code to your business card with a printed URL (link) underneath it.

To create a QR code with your logo takes two seconds: I like this tool, QRCode Monkey.

Make sure you test it!

Now, save the image and send it to the printers when you next have your cards printed.

For the typed URL under the QR Code image, make sure that it’s as short as possible to prevent typos. Preferably the link will have tracking on it as well so that you can see how many times the link is clicked (use bit.ly or another tool like that).

Now, the landing page is critical here.

The landing page that you direct the recipient must have a clear CTA (Call To Action). 

Remember that the person you gave your card has already met you, and if they’ve hit the page you’ve sent them to then you can assume that they’re either close to contacting you, or that they’re still undecided. The landing page therefore should articulate a promotional offer that is exclusive to recipients of your card.

I tried this for a client in Hong Kong who owns a pet store.

The URL and QR Code directed the recipient to a page that had a free sample of dog vitamins exclusively for them, all they had to do was enter the promo code “vitamincard” on the checkout. It worked great and we generated at least a couple of hundred extra clients that year.

A final benefit of this growth hack is that, as ever with most things online, you’ll be able to track its effectiveness.

In summary, if you’re giving out business cards you may as well maximize their use!

Offline Growth Hack 2: Send Self-Addressed Postcards To Leads

Many of us, including myself, consider postage stamps to be the same as paper money.

There is intrinsic value in a postage stamp and as such, it is very doubtful that you’d simply throw a stamp away.

Throwing a stamp away is like throwing away a dollar bill; you just wouldn’t do it.

So, since we’re a bunch of ever-resourceful growth hackers, let’s capitalize on this psychology to our benefit.

Here’s the hack: send snail mail to your targets and include a self-addressed and already stamped RSVP postcard.

Ask a question on that postcard along the lines of,

“Would you like further information on how I can grow your business and increase your monthly revenue?”

Place two boxes that can be checked “Yes” or “No”.

Now the beauty of this offline hack is that the recipient of the letter feels obliged to reply, after all, they can’t really use the stamp themselves since you’ve licked it.

With the associated potential guilt of throwing a stamp (i.e. money) in the trash the chances of them ticking either of the boxes is high!

Try it and see.

For an added hack insert a bulky object in the envelope, handwrite the address, or send it using a FedEx envelope (without having FedEx deliver the package – see my FedEx hack for more information).

Offline Growth Hack 3: Spoof Your Calls, Increase Your Reply Rates

Vastly improve the acceptance rate of your calls using this fantastic growth hack, it’s called SpoofCard.

Here’s how it works.

Spoofcard is able to create a caller ID that is within your target’s country, state, or even city!

The hack works like this: be in control of the caller ID that is displayed on your prospect mobile.

Another amazing feature of this service is that you can combine it with another service mentioned in other growth hacks on my site is called Dropcowboy that sends calls straight to voicemail!

Offline Growth Hack 4: Check Someone’s Eye Color

The chances are you’re like me, you meet someone, hear their name, and likely forget it milliseconds later.

Why is that?

Well, apparently according to psychologists, there are four reasons:

  • Names are arbitrary
  • Names don’t have synonyms
  • Names contain multiple words
  • Names are low-frequency words

Well, there are dozens of reasons, but predominantly it seems that it is because we are better at remembering things we are motivated to learn. First names, for the most part, are generic and, well, we just forget them.

But this growth hack is all about using someone’s eye color to best use!

Try to determine the color of the person’s eyes you’ve just met whilst repeating their name.

Why – and how – does this work?

Because it engages the brain, makes the recipient feel that you are interested in them, and by repeating their name you have positively asserted their name into the hippocampus region of your brain.

This part of the brain (housed deep inside the medial temporal lobe) helps to transfer short-term memory into long-term memory and will be triggered by creating a ritualized habit of a two-step approach: determine eye color and repeat the first name.

Trust me on this. I started trying this out and it really works.

Forgetting someone’s name and saying the ridiculous “I didn’t catch your name” further pushes you down a forgettable path. Being able to refer to someone by their name shows respect, an interest that could lead to, well, who knows where!

Offline Growth Hack 5: Smile At The Receptionist. Yes, Really…

This is another similar offline growth hack that is similar to the one above.

When James Bond walked into his MI5 London office he’d toss his bowler that would perfectly inland on the coat stand.

It was a trademark 007 move and made him look fun and confident.

This hack has really more to do with psychology rather than digital or offline marketing but I decided to include it because I do think it will add value to your approach in generating clients and business.

The hack is pegged to this statement: the receptionist yields more power than you think.

A receptionist could likely know every person working in the office. When you meet your client in their office to pitch your business, or perhaps you’re going for an interview, make sure that you leave a very positive and friendly impression.

The reason for this is obvious and simple. People talk. Receptionists also talk. Employees meet in social settings more than we appreciate. They have lunch together, they bitch, moan and complain as they stand around the water cooler. Nothing works better than being endorsed naturally (‘word of mouth’) by an internal and trusted employee.

Here’s what you want the receptionist to say about you:

“Hey Tom, that guy that came round earlier, I think his name was Henry or Harry? He seems like a nice guy, are you working with him now?”

There you go!

You’ve just been endorsed and your ally has now reminded Tom to reply to your quote and hire you!

Here’s my last point on this hack: people forget what you say, but they always remember how you treated them.

Be nice and you’ll go far.

Offline Growth Hack 6: Cold Call Sent Straight to Voicemail (“Dropped Calls”)

This is one of my favorite hacks, and I wish I’d known about this earlier.

You need two tools: Scrapebox and/or Phantombuster and a dropped call service like “Dropcowboy”.

Using Scrapebox (also covered in throughout my site) go ahead and scrape the phone numbers of prospects.

You can also use this within LinkedIn for even more targeted leads that will pull out the phone numbers of your scraped leads.

Now, once you have your long list of phone numbers, go ahead and send them voicemail that will be sent directly to their voicemail and will appear as a “missed call”, i.e. it skips out the “ringing aspect” of the call.

The beauty of this hack is the level of personalization.

You could get really nerdy and make sure that you call them at say, 10 pm their local time thereby implying that they likely had their phone switched off.

Now, be creative with your messaging, see what works, and have a phone number set up to receive all those glorious calls!

I’d suggest getting a landline number from Skype and having a voice message recording done professionally from a voice-over specialist from Fiverr or UpWork and ask the prospective returnee to leave a message.

If you send out 1,000 of these calls (i.e USD$ 100) and get a conversion of 2% you’ve just made that campaign work.

I really love this hack and can’t wait to try it out in other niches.

Offline Growth Hack 7: Apply To Speak At Meetups And Events

Speaking at events is fantastic for your personal branding and to promote your services and or products.

How do you go about it?

Simple, create an RSS Alert through Google Alerts and specify the search parameters to fit your niche.

Here’s how it’s done.

Firstly, go to Google Alerts and create a keyword alert for speaking opportunities.

If you don’t know what Google Alerts are then you’ll understand the concept the moment you hit that specific section of the Google ecosystem.

Here’s an example of the alert you’d create:

“Hong Kong” AND “Marketing” AND “Speaking Opportunity” OR “Call For Papers”

Now, every time that there is a request for a speaker you’ll get an alert.

Incidentally, for those that don’t know “Call For Papers” is the professional term for speaker requests.

Google Alerts will email you notifications, but you can also create an RSS feed and have a service called IFTTT to send you the alert anywhere you’d like including SMS, Slack, Trello, or Google Spreadsheet.

To do that, after you’ve set up your Google Alerts, head over to your Alerts dashboard and click on the Pencil icon to edit the options and there you will see the “RSS” feature. Click that, copy the link and head over to IFTTT and follow instructions there for ways to get automated alerts outside of email.

The two mentioned resources are: www.google.com/alerts and IFTTT.

The other channel to apply to speak at our Meetup events.

Remember this: forcing yourself to commit to speaking at an event, aside from the networking benefit, can have a positive effect because it will commit you to create content that you can then re-purpose on various platforms via social media.

Offline Growth Hack 8: Tshirt With Your Logo On It

This is one of the most basic growth hacks listed within my site and frankly, it’s a no-brainer.

Walk around wearing your brand.

We’ve all seen the cool startup kids walking around with company TShirts on, bright colors with a strapline and a logo, so why not do the same for your brand or service?

Of course, this offline TShirt hack is wholly dependent on the “formality” of your business but the chances are, especially if you’re reading this post, you’re an SME, an SEO, or a startup or you have some business offering a service.

If you’re proud of your brand, which I’m assuming you are, then shout about it from the rooftops!

Wearing a funny shirt with a catchy strapline, URL and a CTA is just a practical and fun way to get your name about town as you’re going to meetings.

For an extra benefit, ask a question on your shirt.

For example, if you’re a food delivery startup and you have a “free delivery” promo then say so!

You could print “ask me about our free delivery and I’ll throw a free lunch in too!”

This question is simple and would encourage random strangers to ask about the offer and in exchange for their details, you can offer them a free sandwich or other.

The example I use in the image is from Rush Order Tees.

Offline Growth Hack 9: Order Coffee Mugs (For Coworking Offices)

Here’s the hack: go to any coworking space, shared office, etc, and I guarantee you that there will be a bunch of mugs in the pantry or kitchenette.

Some will be chipped, promotional, and some will just be bland and ugly.

We’re going to change that.

Here’s what you do.

Go into the shared space and leave a bunch of your own customized mugs that contain a laser-sharp and focused promotional message.

Make sure your branding clearly states that you’re located in the same city (or neighborhood) and ensure that the copywriting is quirky, to the point, and has a clear CTA (Call To Action).

The cost of creating mugs is not expensive. Head over to Etsy or a similar site and you’ll be able to manufacture several dozen for about USD$50.

Sure, that might seem a bit pricey, but think about it for a second, how many cups of coffee do your potential clients drink a day? Where is your business targeting? That $50 suddenly looks mighty impressive.

Your targets could be drinking from your mugs in a meeting and your brand and service would leave an impression, and if they need your services, it might trigger an inquiry.

Plus, the reason why I love this hack is that no one steals mugs.

If you’re asking yourself, “ok Henry, sounds good, but how do I get into the coworking office in the first place?”

Just ask! Ask politely. Ask affirmatively and gently reinforce the idea that you’re just giving away a free promo.

The chances are that the receptionist will place the mugs in the kitchenette area themselves.

A further twist or refinement to this hack could be to add a QR code that would send the lead to a purposely made landing page (of course with a high resolution of a coffee mug) with a CTA.

This will easily measure the results of this offline campaign.

Remember, you get one client and your investment of $50 suddenly looks pretty damn awesome.

If you deploy this growth hack let me know because I’d love to hear that it worked in real life!

Offline Growth Hack 10: Fake (But Real) VIP FedEx Mail Package

This is another all-time favorite of mine that works.

Imagine this simple scene if you will.

One morning, either in the office or WFH (Working From Home) you receive, in the mail, a UPS, DHL, or FedEx flat-A4 envelope.

Will that evoke curiosity? I’d say. Yes, it would! And, as growth marketers, that’s an emotion we want to generate.

So, where’s the hack then?

Just pay for regular postage and affix it to the top right of the FedEx, UPS or DHL envelope. It’s that simple.

Your local postal service will still deliver the envelope, as usual. If you’re not convinced then test it out by sending it to yourself to make sure.

What about the “cost of the FedEx, UPS, or DHL” envelope?

Answer: zero.

Just go to your local courier franchise operator and ask for a bunch.

I’ve had great success with this growth hack and when combined with a lumpy object in the envelope (something we also cover) then it can be even more effective.

Offline Growth Hack 11: Lumpy Snail Mail To Arouse Interest

Junk mail looks and feels exactly like that, i.e. it’s junk and will be thrown away.

The junk mail that I’m referring to is the old school ‘snail mail/junk mail’ that lands on your doormat each morning. There’s a “tell-tell” look and feel about that generic ‘junk mail’.

This growth hack will turn that on its head!

Here’s how it works.

Insert a “lumpy object” into the package.

That’s it! Simple and brilliant.

When the recipient picks up the envelope of the package they’ll feel an object that will evoke curiosity. After all, what could be inside?

Will they open a lumpy envelope or package addressed to them? Of course, they will.

For an extra hook consider also handwriting the recipient’s address because this will further enhance the curiosity.

The open rate for this hack is huge.

I did this when I was in Hong Kong working on a Food Delivery Startup by including chopsticks in the mail to my intended targets with a quirky message about how to order their discounted lunch online.

Another example of when this worked for me was when I sent dice to Lawyers, also in Hong Kong.

I was trying to sell them website security services and my pitch was to let them know that their websites were very likely vulnerable to being hacked, which would be devastating for any law firm.

I sent over 200 lawyers a letter with dice and encouraged them to visit a landing page that had a photo of the exact same dice and a message that they were gambling with their security.

The conversion rate for this hack when you factor in all the costs will be around USD$ 2-3 dollars, so you’ll have to target wisely – but when done correctly the open rate will be through the roof.

Offline Growth Hack 12 Newspaper Stand Hack (Classic)

This growth hack is totally dependent on whether or not you have a newspaper stand in your city.

In New York, Rome, London, and Hong Kong, four cities I know well, have newspaper stands or ‘kiosks’ as some call them.

Newsstand operators traditionally make money by taking commissions from the sales of newspapers, magazines and by selling confectionery, cigarettes, and advertising on the sides of their premises.

Approach the newsstand operator and ask whether they’d be willing to hand out flyers to every person who purchases an item from their store.

The hook is this: tell the newsstand operator that each flyer has a promo code that is directly attributed to them and they’ll receive commission per conversion.

The nice and tidy thing about this hack is that if your service or product is local then it will work especially well.

I used this hack when I was working for a food delivery startup in Hong Kong (which unfortunately went bust) and increased orders by 23% in a week.

The newsstand I worked with had contracts to deliver newspapers to dozens of banks in the Business District so the lady who ran the store used to throw a bunch of flyers on each newspaper bundle.

For each flyer that converted she received a cash payment of USD $5, not too shabby when she converted 148 in one week alone!

Offline Growth Hack 13: Print Stickers & Give Them Away For Reviews

This hack is completely dependent on your niche and persona you’re going after but I imagine that most people reading this post are for the most part targeting Generation Z, Millennials, and to an extent Generation Y.

If you’re targeting any of these generations and have a tech-associated product or service then print stickers, especially laptop stickers – and give them away!

Trust me, the cool kids will stick them on their laptop lid and they’ll be promoting you everywhere they go.

Having nerd stickers on your laptop lid is like what tattoos are for prisoners, they associate you with your tribe.

Print off inexpensive stickers and just scatter them around startup coworking spaces every time you visit one of them, or just pin a bunch to a Starbucks Community noticeboard, cool bars, coffee shops wherever!

This offline hack is as old as the hills but I still feel it’s a good one.

Another use for the stickers is to place an offer on your site that stipulates that you’ll send a sticker to anyone that writes you a positive review (for example).

Offline Growth Hack 14: Car Wrap

Do you drive?

Does your partner, best friend, mom, Uncle, or acquaintance drive?

The title of this growth hack gives it away: wrap your car!

If you’re unfamiliar with what this is, just look at taxis.

Also known as “Wrap Advertising”, this offline marketing practice completely or partially covers (wraps) a vehicle in a vinyl material promoting or advertising a product or a service.

Essentially the result of this process is to be a mobile billboard.

There are a bunch of companies that offer this as a service and some people, especially in the US, have jumped on this opportunity to get a little side money from having their car wrapped by a third party promoting a product or service which they have no control over.

I’m suggesting something else…

My suggestion is to wrap your car with your product or service.

You’ll drive it with pride.

This hack is a five-minute decision that could work really well for you. Being stuck in traffic is a massive opportunity to advertise (in many ways for free) to a very wide audience.

When you meet someone, the conversation always turns towards your work. As entrepreneurs we should be proud of our companies, so why not flaunt it and spread the word!

Come up with catchy copywriting and you’ll benefit from this offline growth hack.

When I was a kid one of the best straplines I remember was from Honda. The sticker on the back of a Honda simply said: “The car in front is a Honda”. Simple and effective. You could modify words to that effect for your own business.

Of equal importance is being able to measure the effectiveness of your car wrapping and that’s why you need to make sure your URL on your wrapped car has some tracking ability which could be at the most basic level: www.example.com/car so that you can measure the hits which hit that directory.

A QR Code would also be effective in this instance.

Offline Growth Hack 15: Power Of Old School Set-Up Group

This might be slightly left-field but it’s worked for me and it might work for you too.

If you don’t have an old-school alumni LinkedIn Group, then set one up.

I did this hack in Hong Kong to significant success.

I didn’t know anyone when I moved here in 2016 so I scraped LinkedIn for anyone who went to my school and lives in Hong Kong.

With over 250 million users you’ll surely find human connections that you can use to initiate contact and conversation.

Whilst the above approach is broad and scatter-gun, it only takes a few minutes to search and with a well-written message, you’ll have an incredibly high conversion rate.

It’s a small world in many ways and all it takes is an introduction to a client in your niche to make the above five-minute hack worth it.

Offline Growth Hack 16: Flyering Outside Conferences

This is insanely simple.

All that is required is confidence and a guerilla attitude to offline marketing.

We’ve covered flyering before several times throughout my site, but this one is a total no-brainer.

Target a large conference or event (trade show etc) in your city and simply stand outside the main entrance and hand out flyers.

That’s it.

Simple and highly effective.

Now, of course, you’ll have to make sure that you position yourself in a public area but the chances are that you’ll find a spot where the delegates are being bottle-necked to enter the venue.

The benefits here are obvious but certainly worth emphasizing. Delegates, vendors, and participants to conferences within your niche are clearly potential leads, so where better a place to find leads than at a conference?

Sure, you can pay for a booth, but the hack here is that you’re piggybacking off the entire event by positioning yourself at the entrance to the event.

You could even be more brazen and tout yourself as the “Unofficial Sponsor of the ACME Event”. Using “unofficial” is correct and ought to get you out of legal issues; just make sure you do not use any logos or similar fonts that the event has used for their marketing.

Now, you can even take this to the next level.

You could scope the venue out the day before and see if you can park a car there. If you can – then hire a van and set up a promotion booth on the street so everyone and their dog can see you. Trust me, for the cost of a parking ticket and van hire you could get some serious interest and business.

The moral of the story here is one of confidence.

Nothing is more contagious than confidence and this offline growth hack might spark some real solid results.

The Covid pandemic has somewhat laid waste to this hack because events and conferences have been canceled, however, they will bounce back so by the time you are reading this hack I’m sure that things will be somewhat back to normal.

For those that are interested in this hack – check out this article.

Offline Growth Hack 17: Cute Cat With Cut Out Numbers

This is a bit leftfield but if you’ve got the time and confidence, try it out.

It’s a classic and certainly one of the most old-school and “basic” offline hacks out there but if you have the energy to do it then you may well get results.

Here’s how it works.

Find the most ridiculously cute photo of a pet, then create a one-page A4 design that looks like one of those “Missing Dog” signs that you see slapped on lampposts with the precut phone numbers that passersby can tear off to make contact.

The hook here is all in the copywriting.

You can ask a question that is actually a statement, like this: “Have You Seen My Puppy!!?”, then on the next line, “She’s Cute Isn’t She!”.

Your message then needs to pivot into some creative digital marketing copywriting that encourages the reader to get in touch for more disruptive ambient advertising that you can offer to help grow their business.

You’ll need a busy pedestrian intersection for this to work.

Remember, all you need is to get lucky once or twice for success.

Whilst this offline hack might seem very basic and simple it’s also highly effective and costs practically zero to set up.

If you choose a busy pedestrian section where commuters are waiting for the “green man” then you may be exposing your ad and services to literally thousands of people.

Try it and see!

Offline Growth Hack 18: Handwritten Letters

The “human touch” can make all the difference.

Sending a handwritten note to your new customers is highly personalized and can be impactful; above everything else, it shows that you genuinely care.

If you’re acquiring hundreds of new customers every day then it’s going to get tricky to handwrite notes to every new customer. The solution is to print out cards and simply write the first name and sign them.

The human touch and the effort you’ve made will be remembered.

There’s nothing new about this mini-growth hack, but we need to remind ourselves about it.

I used to work in a luxury bathroom shop in London, and I remember that each and every item that was shipped to customers had a handwritten note saying, “Your item was packed and shipped by Lucy”. This adds a human element and shows that pride and care went into the products you paid for.

What’s the harm in trying?

Wow!

You got this far – impressive stuff!

I hope that these hacks work for you. Remember that all you need is for one of these to work for you to have significant success.

Henry "HMFIC"

I'm Henry, the guy behind this site. I've been Growth Hacking since 2002, yep, that long...

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