My job is to work with business owners and help them develop, implement, and manage their online marketing strategies. Despite online marketing becoming more widely accepted amongst business owners and more businesses shifting their marketing spend from traditional to digital, I still come across a lot of business owners who are reluctant to believe online marketing can work for them.
More often than not, the business owner’s disbelief in the power of online marketing comes from a negative experience they’ve had in the past. Because of these experiences the business owner is usually tempted to pull out of online marketing altogether and focus on what they’ve always focused on.
When looking into why online marketing has failed for a business, lack of planning is the common denominator. The old proverb “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” has always resonated with me since I first heard it. The saying couldn’t be more true when it comes to online marketing. Just like successful business owners use a business plan to provide direction for the business, online marketing requires a strategic plan to help provide direction and set quantifiable goals.
Why does my business need online marketing?
In some cases when meeting with a business owner for the first time, I hear things like " I need to use SEO to increase my sales" or " I need to be on social media". This is all great but when I ask WHY? the answer I get most of the time is "Because everyone else is doing it".
Before starting a new online marketing campaign, implementing search engine optimization, or engaging in social media, it’s good to take a step back.
Meeting with a business owner who is excited about online marketing is awesome. The business owner can see the possibilities and understands the potential of growing their customer base and increasing brand awareness through online marketing tactics. However, in most cases, most business owners don’t bother to take a step back and ask "WHY" they might want to implement online marketing. Even with the smallest businesses defining clear goals is important.
Three important questions to ask about online marketing.
These are the three most important questions a business owner should answer before implementing any online marketing tactics or strategies:
1. What are your businesses goals and objectives? Looking at the business both online and offline, what are the goals and what are you looking to achieve? Once you begin to think about the answers to this question the conversation can move on to what the business looks to accomplish online - which will be the primary focus of your online marketing strategy.
2. Who will support your online marketing efforts? Which employees or departments will be responsible for supporting the online marketing efforts internally. If you are implementing a Google Adwords campaign to generate leads, who will be in charge of following up with these leads?
3. What about content? Content has never been more important to online marketing. Content is truly king in 2012 and whether SEO, PPC, Email, or Social Media, a lot of thought needs to be put into what content your customers want and how they expect to be spoken to and engaged by your business.
I recognize that these three questions are very high level and only begin to address what needs to be looked at when planning an online marketing strategy... but once we answer these questions we can ensure that not only will a strategy work, but also that your strategy will be aligned with your business goals and objectives. Only then we can move ahead and start to develop an effective online marketing strategy tailored to your business and industry.