If you already have a small business that you are attempting to promote online and are having trouble making profit, it may be because you have not created an internet marketing plan.
Marketing online can be simple but it is certainly much more difficult now than simply putting some keywords in the text of your site. Those days are long gone.
You need to have a plan of action if you want to reach your company goals. (You do have a set of goals written out, right?)
Fancy words… Don’t let all this scare you off, it just sounds complicated.
I’ve seen a lot of one page business plans so take heart. A good business plan is one that starts you in the right direction and is flexible enough that you can tweak it as you go.
Here are some steps and we can pull them apart later. Depending on the size of your company, you may not need all of these.
Step Number 1: Strategic Planning…
Planning is critical. When beginning your online business, it is important to ask yourself some questions. “What am I good at?”, “What can I do better than anyone else?”, “What am I passionate about?” You need to discover how your business will be different from the rest by discovering all of the advantages that you will have over your competitors.
Step Number 2: Situation Analysis…
This is basically learning about the market that you are in or about to get into. Is there a hungry market that you can serve? Find a segment of people whose needs are not being addressed at this time, a segment of people willing to spend their hard earned money for a solution that helps them improve their life in some way.
Analyze your competition. Is there any competition? What are they doing that you can improve on? The more you know about the industry you are in and how you can succeed in it, the better. Is there really an online market there where people are spending money?
Step Number 3: Customer Analysis…
Simply put, this step involves learning about your prospective customers. Pick out your target customer, or a group of people sometimes called your target market. How can you market effectively to someone that you know nothing about?
You really need to spend some time on this one. Who are you trying to market to? What are their most pressing needs or wants that you could service?
You need to know your ideal customer’s problems if you are going to market to them effectively and solve their most pressing problems in your industry. In fact, some businesses do imagine personalities that will serve as the target customer and then develop a plan of marketing to that imaginary person’s needs.
Step Number 4: Market and Product focus…
This step involves making your company different from your competitors. This is often referred to as the “Unique Selling Proposition” or “USP”. Your USP is hugely important, and can mean the difference between success and failure of your enterprise.
Why will people pick your product or service over all the others in the marketplace? There is always competition. What is ‘special’ about what you are offering? How does it differentiate you from everyone else hawking their own similar products and how can you communicate that effectively?
If you haven’t learned about them yet, acquaint yourself with the 4 Ps of marketing: product, position, promotion, and price.
Step Number 5: Image, Product positioning…
Simply put, when a person hears a company name or a brand, certain thoughts come to mind. When somebody says your company name or thinks about your product or service, what thoughts do you want to come to their mind? What image are you going to present?
How your prospects see you is extremely important. You need to know how to position your business in your customer’s mind.
Step Number 6: Pricing Strategy…
You need to know how to effectively price your goods or services. A good way is to take a look at what the competition is charging.
If you are new to the business, you may need to price a bit for the launch, but better yet, you could build tremendous value into your sales offer and separate yourself from the competition with higher pricing. No one stays the lowest cost provider for long without paying in lower profits too.
Step number 7: Product Distribution…
This is the physical location where your product or service is offered. And yes, if you have an internet business then your position is the internet, but where are you focusing your efforts, what geographical locations. How will your product get delivered? Physically shipped or digitally downloaded, or both?
Step Number 8: Promotion Strategy…
This is how you are going to market and advertise your business on the internet. There are plenty of different methods at your disposal including newsletter ads, search engines marketing, article marketing or pay per click advertising. Learn about each so you can effectively implement them.
Make a detailed plan of how you will promote your products. How will you reach your ideal prospects in such a noisy marketplace? Find what best suits your business, and has the best chance of meeting your revenue targets. Keep your promotions focused, don’t spread yourself too thin with too many options.
Well, hopefully, you can make use of some of this information and create your own internet marketing plan that fits your business. Planning ahead for all contingencies pays off in increased revenues and profits.
More on business plans on this post… Creating A Great Business Plan
Here is an awesome resource post on another blog. They have searched the net and came up with about fifty posts on business plans and it has great information to share with you. The Top 50 Business Plan Posts (Some of the links are no longer active, but there is a great deal of evergreen business plan information available there.