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#1 Thing Small Businesses Should Do for Internet Marketing

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 2/27/11 8:24 PM

I was recently asked to appear on a local small business radio talk show. During the interview, I was asked what is the number one thing that small business owners should do for their marketing. My hosts were somewhat surprised when I said have a written plan.

No, it wasn't have a blog, or get on Facebook, it was the seemingly simple act of having a marketing plan.

Now, I understand that most of the blog posts and media that is so widely available touts you must be on Twitter, or Facebook, or have a blog. But what I hear from most business owners and executives, (both large and small) is where do I start? How do I know where to spend my time? How do I know this will work?

The internet is changing daily, and the dynamic aspect of it panics a lot of people that they must do, do, do and do it now. How can an age old tactic of a marketing plan help those struggling to keep up with the ever changing Internet marketing tactics?

First, a disclaimer: a internet marketing plan is never set in stone. But like a lighthouse for a rocky coastline, it provides the vital benchmarks that serve as a guide to help you navigate the rapidly changing dynamics of the web and your potential customers.

Why is it so important to write it down? One example can be seen in a reported study of Harvard MBA grads.

Planners ARE Doers.

  • 84% had no specific goals at all
  • 13% had goals but they were not committed to paper
  • 3% had clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them

In 1989, the interviewers again interviewed the graduates of that class.

  • The 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all.
  • Even more staggering – the three percent who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

So the next question from my radio hosts- ok, how do I do that and how long will it take?

What a written internet marketing plan can do for your business.

  1. Set your goals.
    Determine what your revenue goals are, calculate your average cost per lead, calculate your average value per leads, determine the number of leads you need to reach your revenue goals, and finally determine how much traffic you need to drive to your website to get the number of leads you need.
  2. Differentiate your business from the competition.
    Through a business discovery process, you can uncover the hidden jewels of your business that your potential customers do not know about you and your industry.
  3. Know your customers intimately.
    With the widely available information on the web and social media, you get an intimate and personal profile of your audience. Beyond demographics, likes and dislikes and motivations, a customer persona will outline what buying mode your web visitors are in, and helps you to craft your marketing and sales according to what appeals to them.
  4. Map your marketing campaigns.
    Instead of being tossed about with the winds of change of the internet, your business has a map to understand which tactics are going to be the most effective to put your business in the right place at the right time. As new tactics emerge, you can easily integrate them into your map.
  5. Measure success.
    Last, and certainly not least, with your marketing map you can now match your marketing campaigns to the metrics available in your web, marketing, and sales analytics that will tell you what is working, and what is not. Even better, you are not overwhelmed in reports and data that you are not sure how to interpret or take action on. You have the info you need to take action to improve results.

How much time will it take? It can be as little as a few hours. Remember, the marketing plan is not done once, set in stone, and then put aside. As you implement your plan, it will be part of a continuous cycle of Think, Do, Review.

Do you need to generate leads and sales for your business? Do you know how you will do it? Are you too busy in the day to day of your business to have the time to focus on the big picture? Let us help set your path for success.

Topics: internet marketing strategy, internet marketing plans, small business internet marketing