I've got a product that is aimed at offline small businesses; florists, motels, cleaning companies and the like. I'm looking for ways to advertise to them online.
There is so much content on the web aimed at online businesses and SEO that it's hard to find ways to target the brick and mortar businesses.
Things I am trying :
Why not ask them?
In fact, it sounds as if your case fits the conditions for direct marketing: It's a rather small target audience whose members should be easy to research. Also, they are unlikely to be online much (and if, not about their respective businesses). They probably also appreciate to have somebody talking to them in person.
Just research their addresses, create a direct mail offer and sent it out. Usually, post services have special prices for such kind of mass mailings. You may want to employ a copy writer for writing the letter(s). Or just get a book about copy writing and write it yourself.
Of course, you can also call or visit them.
As soon as you have a direct contact, it should be easy to ask them if they are online, and what sites they frequent.
Concerning keywords: I just tried "florist supplies" and Google estimates about a dollar per click. Your click-through-rate could be bad since your product is probably not what people expect -- but it's rather close to your target audience.
Hope this helps.
Online, I would be concentrating on the vertical communities, forums, and groups. I'm sure florists and hoteliers have places to gather.... cleaning companies, maybe not so much!
Try to engage with those communities, and include specifically tailored content for those verticals on your website.
Be careful not to fall into the trap of building products and speaking in terms aimed at the technology and startup world. If you sell to florists, most of your engagement needs to happen in that community.
Google Adwords is a matter of iteration, tracking, and testing. The knowledge in this article by Patrick turned my campaigns around.
Having said all of this, I wouldn't be afraid of offline promotion if viable for your numbers.
I don't think trying to reach offline businesses using online methods is the best way to reach these types of businesses. Small business owners just are too busy running their daily, day-to-day operations to be going online and look for a solution to a problem they don't know they have.
Secondly, the yield on direct-mail is marginally slim. You should expect it to be so. While its worth investigating, I wouldn't bet the farm on it. Again just my hunch.
I think that the most effective way is probably face to face or actually cold calling. Think about how yellowpages, groupon, yelp have been able to reach local business. Direct sales. If it were me I would be out there talking to as many people, until you reach that "magic" tipping point where you get more inbound leads.