By Tasha Cunningham
Creating an online marketing plan is one of the most important things you can do for your small business. Don’t be overwhelmed. Creating this essential tool is not as hard you might think. The plan is really a roadmap that will outline a path to profitability online.
A growing number of businesses are investing their resources in marketing online. Small and midsize businesses are changing the way they market their businesses and focusing on changing consumer behavior in a wired, Web-based world, according to a September 2012 Forrester Consulting study. In fact, 84 percent of survey respondents reported using online marketing tactics like e-mail and webinars to promote their companies.
There is certainly money to be made online. More than $1.5 billion was spent online on Cyber Monday alone this year, according to Reuters. To help you get started, here are five steps to creating a winning plan.
1. Start with the end game in mind. Before you even begin to put pen to paper, you need to think about the end result first. What is your ultimate goal? Do you want to increase your online profits by 10 percent in the next year? You can’t begin the process of creating your roadmap if you’re not certain where you want to go. Check out Online Marketing: A User’s Manual by Murray Newlands, published in 2011, to get started.
2. Think about your strategies and tactics. How do you want to achieve the goals you’ve set for your business? What are the specific things you want to accomplish? Are there specific things you would like to do? Do you want to devote more time to cultivating customers using social media? What about online advertising?
3. Create an outline. An online marketing plan can either be part of your overall marketing strategy or it can stand alone. Once you’ve decided what your goals are, you can begin outlining the plan — be sure to include your budget. For inspiration, check out a book called The New Rules of Marketing & P R, by David Meerman Scott, published in 2011.
4. Think about your content. Marketing online requires engaging content. Be sure to include the steps you’re going to take to make sure you generate timely, well-written content on a regular basis. Are you going to do it yourself? Are you going to hire someone to do it? These are important questions you need to answer.
5. Maintain brand consistency online, too. Do your online promotional tools, such as your website and social media platforms, match your offline efforts? Make sure your company collaterals such as brochures, advertisements and reports are consistent on and offline. To get ideas, check out Brand Against the Machine: How to Build Your Brand, Cut Through the Marketing Noise, and Stand Out from the Competition by John Morgan, published in 2011.
For more tips on how to create a stellar online marketing plan, visit ww.BizBytes101.com. This column first ran in Business Monday.