You need an internet marketing strategy, even if it’s just “sell lots of stuff”. Here’s how you do it:
- Tear up the old marketing plan. Chances are, if your company’s been around for a few years, someone wrote you a marketing plan. It probably has an executive summary, spans 3 years, and cost a lot of money. Feed it into the shredder. Planning for marketing conditions 3 years from now is like breathing through your ears: It defies anatomy, and common sense. Now breath deep, and enjoy the smell of freedom.
- Promise yourself you’ll plan 3 months, not 3 years, into the future. In internet marketing, you can’t possibly predict what’ll happen beyond that.
- Write down your business goal. Not a marketing goal – you can accomplish your marketing goal and still go out of business. Your business goal is what really matters. And “making money” is not a business goal, FYI.
- Shovel everything off your desk. You want a clear, empty desk. Get a pen and paper or grab your computer keyboard. Lock your door. You need quiet time.
- Write down the key phrases your customers use when describing your product or service. This isn’t just for search engine optimization – you need to know how customers think of you.
- Write down the clinching questions. These should be 3-5 questions that, when answered, virtually guarantee your customer will buy.
- Write down your customers’ favorite search engines and web sites. If you don’t know, you can do something revolutionary: Ask your customers.
- Get a calendar, or a project planning program, or whatever works best for you when planning stuff.
- Write down “Make sure my web site answers the clinching questions on the home page” as the task for the first 2 weeks. It shouldn’t take longer than that. If it does, you’ve got a sluggish web developer, or a really screwed up web site. Revise your plan accordingly.
- For the remaining 10 or so weeks:
- Make Mondays pay-per-click day. On Mondays, you or someone you hire will set up (and then optimize) paid search ads that address the clinching questions and appear for the key phrases. If you don’t know how to do this, hire someone who does.
- Make Tuesdays outreach day. Strike up friendly conversations, via comments or e-mail, with the people in your industry you most respect. Every few weeks, drop them a line on news about you and your company. The worst they’ll do is ignore you. The best they’ll do is write about you.
- Make Wednesdays brainstorming day. Every Wednesday, sit down with one other person – either an employee or someone in your industry – and write down 10 ways you can build more business with existing customers, or get new ones. Don’t worry if you repeat week to week.
- Make Thursdays marketing day. Pick one of the ideas you brainstormed on a previous Wednesday, and make it happen. If you can’t do it in a day, don’t bother. Chances are there are plenty of quick things you can do that’ll give you a boost.
- Make Fridays analytics day. Someone who knows a bit about analytics should take a look at your site’s performance, and decide what should change for the next week.
Yes, this is a bit simplified. But it gets you started. As you work within this framework, your strategy will evolve. Keep at it.
You can, of course, hire a professional (ahem), and get a more complete plan. But, if you lack the budget, this can get you started.