SEO ain’t a strategy. Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Email Newsletters….these ain’t strategies either. They’re tactics at best. But more accurately, they’re “media channels”, communication mediums to used to reach a particular audience.
Investing effort in any activity without undertstanding its purpose, your desired outcome or how it will help you grow your business, will only waste your limited time and resources. The right internet marketing strategy will tell you how to allocate your resources.
This post is the first of many aimed at helping you develop an internet marketing strategy….that well…works. But before we go down that path, let’s make sure we’re all in agreement as to WHY you NEED an Internet marketing strategy.
1. You want to attract the RIGHT customer
By identifying who is most likely to buy from you you’re better positioned to address their concerns and convert them into a customer. The challenge is zeroing in on the the specific topics, problems and areas of interest that will attract potential buyers to contact you.
Who’s your ideal customer? They are your most profitable customers. They’re the ones you enjoy working with. They are the customers who’s problems you can solve.
Identifying who your target customer is (their interests, their budget, their pain, their stress, their worry) is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that you’re marketing message speaks to the right person.
When you get into the mindset of your target customer you can speak their language and devote your full energies to supplying them with the valuable information they’ll need to make a purchasing decision.
2. Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation
Internet marketing is not just about having the right outputs, it’s about having the right INPUTS as well. When you create your Internet marketing strategy you’re stepping back and assessing the marketplace in its entirety. By stopping to look around at peers, competitors and evangelists in your particular industry, you can position yourself to be in the right place at the right time.
I like to use trigger lists to identify those activities I should be looking to incorporate into my marketing strategy. This includes looking at community event calendars, signing up for e-newsletters for important trade publications in my industry and timing my content to key seasonal trends going on in my world. Black Friday, Valentines Day and Christmas are classic examples. But local events like the Akron Marathon or Football Hall of Fame Induction in Canton may present great opportunties to tap into the energy and interest of your community.
By assessing where you are versus where you should be, you’ll be able to assemble an inventory of the high leverage activities you should be engaging in. At the same time, you won’t chase after the wrong opportunities. Those misguided, haphhazard exercises that waste resources and yield the wrong results.
3. Successful Internet marketing is conistent and focused
Focus is a key element in any business activity. This is especially true when working to communicate a convincing marketing message to your potential customer base. By focusing on those themes that will resonate with your target customers, you’ll better resonate with needs and interests.
Problems are often introduced when your Internet presence doesn’t compliment your offline messaging. They should work together — harmoneously and collabroatively — so that each interaction with your brand reinforces your core message.
In addition, your internet presence is more than just your website. It includes your personal and professional social media personas (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+) and online references to your business through citation sites like YP.com, Yelp!, and Foursquare. It even extends to all the little things like the signature at the bottom of your personal email messages.
Having alignment across all the mediums with which a customer may engage your brand will allow your business to present the focused message you WANT customers to see. Planning this focused attack increase the likelihood that people will want to engage with your product, your services and you.
4. You know WHERE you’re going and HOW you’ll get there
Two maxims come to mind. (and I’m paraphrasing)
‘Every battle is won before it is ever fought’ vs. ‘Every plan falls apart the moment the battle starts’
While seemingly opposing view points, I believe both are true. The military uses a term called ‘Commander Intent’ (thank you Dan and Chip Heath). Commander Intent is the stated outcome and key objectives for any given engagement. If you’re cut off from your group and communications are down, you still know what the main objective is for the current engagement.
The same is true when it comes to all aspects of marketing strategy. By having a simple ACTIONABLE strategy you (and your team) can react appropriately to the innumerable amount of opportunities (problems?) confronting you every day. It will allow you to make better decisions when caught in the fray of your day to day activities.
Further, a well thought out strategy will have gone through the process of identifying measureable results and realistic budgets you should be following. You can then check-in on these targets on a regular basis to ensure you’re tracking where you expect to be. This will avoid burnout, allow you make (slight) course corrections, and build a realistic strategy for success going forward.
In the end, ‘Internet Marketing’ needs ‘Strategy.’ Otherwise, you risk investing money and time in the wrong place, with the wrong message at the wrong time.