Does your online marketing efforts look like the picture above? It comes from the Internet Business Manifesto, by Rich Schefren, where he describes in very accurate details the overwhelm that most business owners experience once they venture into the world of Internet Marketing for the first time.
This article is aimed at business owners who run successful businesses, but who are looking or already trying to expand their business presence on the Internet in order to attract more clients. To be successful online, you need to have an effective Internet Marketing Plan.
What is considered to be an effective marketing plan?
An effective Internet Marketing Plan needs to be well-researched in order to guide a company step-by-step how to market its product or service to a specific target market. An effective plan will help a company remain focused on its marketing objectives.
Your Internet Marketing Plan needs to define the details of the following:
- market analysis,
- public relations campaigns
The most successful Internet marketing plans integrate both Internet marketing strategies as well as traditional (offline) marketing strategies.
Now let’s view the 10 steps to creating your Internet Marketing Plan:
#1 Market Research
Collect, organize, and write down data about the market that is currently buying the product(s) or service(s) you will sell. (From now on we’ll refer to your products or services as “product”.)
Some areas to consider:
- Market dynamics, patterns including seasonality
- Customers-demographics, market segment, target markets, needs, buying decisions
- Product—what’s out there now and what’s the competition offering? Conduct market research by using Google to search on the types of products or services you want to sell
- Current sales in the industry
- Suppliers-vendors that you will need to rely on
Define your target market(s)—To be successful, focus on one or two small niche markets instead of a large general market. Niche markets have far less competition and they tend to be more profitable. If there is one thing you can do to help your odds of being successful in business it is to focus on one or two small niche markets.
Describe your product (or service). How does your product relate to the market? What does your market need, what do they currently use, what do they need above and beyond current use?
Consider the following in your plan:
- Describe your competition.
- Develop your “unique selling proposition.”
- What makes you stand apart from your competition? Why are you special?
- Why should a customer choose to do business with you instead of one of your competitors? The better job you can do to differentiate yourself from your competitors, the more success you will have.
#4 Mission Statement
Write a few sentences that state:
- “Key market” – who you’re selling to – be very specific!
- “Contribution” – what you’re selling
- “Distinction” – your unique selling proposition – why are you different from your competition?
#5 Internet Marketing Strategies
Write down the Internet marketing and promotion strategies that you want to use or at least consider using. Don’t try to implement them all at once, choose 3-4 and measure the results.
There are several strategies to consider including:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO). What this means is using optimization techniques so search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN) will rank your website within the top 10 search results. By doing this you can get literally thousands of people to your website every day for free. SEO is a service that you need to outsource if you don’t have an in-house capacity. Or find a free resource, Local Search e-course, if you are a self-help person.
- Pay Per Click Search Engine Marketing. When you use this service you are bidding on keywords so that your website text ad is displayed when a person conducts a search on a particular keyword or key phrase. Google, Yahoo and MSN all have pay per click internet marketing services.
- Affiliate Marketing. This is where other websites owners market your products for you and you pay them a commission on each sale. This is an outstanding way to create a successful Internet business.
- Link Exchanges. This is where you and other websites exchanges links to drive traffic to each other’s website. Exchanging links with other websites is also a great way to get better rankings in the search engines. The reason for this is that search engines want to give top rankings to the websites that are most popular in their category/industry. The best way for the search engines to determine which websites are the most popular is to see who has the most links pointing at their website. That is why getting a lot of links pointing at your website is so important. Back linking is also a strategy to outsource if you don’t have the capacity.
- Article Marketing – Write Articles and distribute them online. This is a great way to get tons of one-way links pointed at your website (which search engines love!). A good practice is to write one new article each week/month and you will soon end up with thousands of links pointed at your websites. Remember, the more links that point at your website, the higher search engines will rank your website. It will establish you as an expert in your field. The way it works is very simple. You write a 1-page article and use online article distribution services to distribute your article to hundreds other websites, blogs, and ezines (electronic magazines). People read your articles to learn about your products or services. Recommended services to use for distributing your article are Ezine-Articles, Ideamarketers and Isnare.
- Write press releases and distribute them online. Just like writing and submitting articles, this is a very simple and extremely effective way to get tons of links pointed at your website. It is also a great way drive targeted traffic to your website. For more information, please visit PRWeb.
- Advertise in ezines (also known as an internet newsletter or an internet magazine). This is another simple yet highly effective way to market your products or services online.
- Network using social networking services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
The Internet Marketing Strategies are also available as premium services from Virtual Project Consulting.
#6 Offline/Traditional Advertising Strategies
Here are some offline advertising strategies that you could integrate with your marketing:
- Networking-Go where your market is, Chamber of Commerce, etc
- Direct marketing using sales letters, brochures, postcards, flyers, etc.
- Advertising-Print media, directories, billboards, yellow pages, radio, TV
- Training programs-Seminars that you give to increase awareness
- Write articles for magazines, your local newspaper, and other publications read by your industry. Doing this will help you to become known as an expert
- Direct/personal selling
- Publicity/press releases
- Trade shows
- Referral programs
- Co-marketing with businesses that share your target market
#7 Pricing, Positioning and Branding
From the information collected, establish strategies for determining the price of your product, where your product will be positioned in the market and how you will achieve brand awareness.
Create a budget. What strategies can you afford? How much can you afford to spend per month?
#9 Marketing Goals
Establish quantifiable marketing goals. This means goals that you can turn into numbers. For instance, your goal might be to gain at least 10 new clients each month or to generate 100 leads per month.
#10 Monitor Your Results
It’s important to test and analyze. Identify the strategies that are working.
- Survey customers.
- Track sales, leads, visitors to your web site, percent of sales to impressions
- Determine which marketing strategies are producing the most customers and which are producing the least customers
- Measure Return on Investment per each marketing activity
If you follow the 10 Steps above, you can create an effective Internet Marketing Plan full of tactics to deploy and metrics to use to measure the effectiveness of your marketing.
If your business is not marketing online currently, you are losing out on many opportunities to attract interested clients to your business. And within a year, with no online presence it will be as if your business doesn’t exist.
About the Author:
Linky van der Merwe is the Founder of Virtual Project Consulting, a web-based company providing comprehensive Project Management Resources information to the aspiring and existing project manager. As a virtual project manager, she also serves clients as an Internet and Mobile Marketing consultant helping you to plan and integrate Internet Marketing for your business to attract many more customers.
As a valuable blog visitor, Linky now invites you to watch the 100 customers in 100 days WEBINAR, presented by Russel Brunson. As a certified Independent Marketing Advisor (IMA) working with Dotcomsecrets Local, she really looks forward to being of service to you.
Contact Linky for your FREE strategy session to assess your online presence and to help you establish a customized Internet Marketing Plan for your business.
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