If you’re looking to build sustained interest in your business online, you need a well-defined marketing strategy that communicates you message effectively.
So many small businesses in particular seem to jump this way and that as they seek to track down the holy grail of instant online marketing success, juggling keywords, SEO, social media, content marketing, etc.
Personally, I think the sooner you get past the idea that there’s no immediate fix and that marketing is a commitment, not a campaign, you’ll have the right mindset. The best foundations you can put in place for online marketing are to my mind an awareness and understanding of the following questions:
What are your business objectives?
Think about what you are trying to achieve. Increased sales within a particular segment? Better brand awareness online? More sign-ups to your newsletter to build a platform for direct marketing? You get the idea. No matter what, it’s imperative you have a clear idea of just what you are trying to achieve from the outset before you start any marketing. If you’re in any doubt as to your objectives, try and write it down â€“ in just one sentence!
Who is your target audience?
Work out exactly who you’re trying to reach online. Everybody isn’t specific enough. “Young people who are looking for cheap places to stay in Scandinavia” is specific. “Visitors to Sweden” isn’t.
I find one of the best ways when trying to clarify a target audience with a client is to develop clearcut brand personas. Once you understand exactly who your target audience is, make sure everyone in your business is aware of who they are.
What are the right strategies to achieve your objectives?
Once you know who your target audience is, spend time (and resources) identifying where are they online. What’s the best way of reaching them where they are: social media, mobile, or even old-fashioned print! After all, online marketing doesn’t always work.
What kind of marketing is necessary to achieve your business goals. Do you need to build a tribe? Get calls to action in front of your audience? This is where your strategy begins to have practical implementation.
What tactics should you use?
This is where you identify the actions you should take. What are you going to do? How are you going to say it? Should you incorporate social into all your channels or try different tones in different channels?
What metrics should you measure?
Finally, remember that data is a big part of succeeding online. It helps you tweak your strategy and approach to ensure you meet your objectives. I like to measure the number of people I reach, the amount of time they spend visiting my outposts on the web, and the actions they take and compare that to my time and investment and the sales it generates.
No matter what, don’t rush your marketing strategy. It’s not something you can bash out on a wet and windy Wednesday afternoon in Stockholm. It takes time to carefully think through your goals, identify your audience, weigh up a variety of strategies, and decide upon the tactics you will implement.
Get it wrong and you may find yourself flaying around in the dark. Get it right and who knows where you’re headed next.
Update: Don’t just take my word for it. Check out my friend Michael Taggart’s Free Social Media Strategy.