Your business needs to have a website. But this is only the first step to an internet marketing strategy. Most businesses do not think about cohesive plans when they start marketing. Most often, they think tactics rather than achieving longer term goals.
There is no blame to be placed in this. Most small businesses do not have the luxury of putting together a marketing plan with branding, seo, content, social media and all the rest. They are just looking to make some sales or acquire new accounts to either get the business off the ground or to keep things going, oftentimes with a low budget.
The truth is that most small businesses do not have to do months of research, test marketing and multimedia purchases. There are simple steps that most companies need to take to get laser focused on their target market and then get in front of those consumers.
It doesn’t matter if you are B2B or B2C or whether you sell a product or a service. People are looking for what you offer or would be interested in what you provide if they knew there was a better alternative to what they have.
Develop A Marketing Strategy
Where to Start
The first step to take is getting a clear understanding of your business and what you offer. Specificity is key in marketing your company online. Know what you bring to market. Get really detailed. Think in terms of customers and how they would define what you provide.
Get to Know Your Clientele
As tedious as it may sound, you will benefit greatly from just a little bit of research. This is where a little honesty from those you know will go a long way. Define your ideal consumers, what their needs are. Explore your existing customers and why they buy from you.
For your existing clients, ask them where they found you and why they chose your service or brand.
- Was it a referral? Is that why they chose you?
- Did they do a search on Google?
- Had they driven past your business?
There are numerous ways that customers find you and knowing not only where they had seen you, but why they chose you, can help you to create an effective online strategy that is focused and will not be a drain on your resources, budget or time.
Talk To Those Who Are not Your Customers
It is not just a good sales practice to buy someone coffee or take them out to lunch. It can also be great marketing research as well.
When talking with prospects or people that chose not to buy from you, always ask why they didn’t and more importantly why they chose your competitor.
Knowing that someone decided to go with the other company because they found them on Google and repeatedly saw them in ads and social media along with the fact that they read so many highly rated online reviews can be windfall of information to build into your strategy.
People find information from search engines, Facebook, online forums, email newsletters, their local Chamber of Commerce, etc. Knowing where your prospects spend their time and their decision making process helps you to develop a winning plan.
Know The Competition
Figure out who your main competitors are and all of the differences between you and them. List them out, the good and the bad attributes. You can’t be everything to everyone and neither can they. Try to figure out who their ideal clients are and if that is what you are really looking to attract as your clientele. Oftentimes, the answer surprises business owners that just because they saw a big name company marketing everywhere, you don’t really compete with them for the same customer.
Also try to determine where they find their new customers. Are their opportunities for you to compete in that space?
Establish a Budget
Determine the budget for marketing for the year. If you do not you will either spend more than you expected or end up with very little marketing and won’t grow your business.
Knowing your market and how you fit into it will allow you to focus on your messaging. Since you know who your competitors are and what they offer, you’ll be able to make comparative statements that will help consumers decide. Defining your ideal client and understanding your customers will allow you to focus all marketing toward their needs. Knowing where customers come from helps you to focus your marketing investment where it will be most effective. Having a budget will allow you to give permission to yourself to spend money on the right marketing channel so you feel comfortable making the investment.