At the beginning of a new year, most of us turn our attention towards self improvement – we commit to trying new things and to doing everyday things better. One task that merits inclusion on your 2011 resolutions is the commitment to putting pen to paper and writing an online marketing plan.
As the year rolls on, we all tend to get so caught up with deadlines and pressing ‘to do’ lists that the basics get shoved to one side or earmarked as not important. An online marketing plan can seem like one of those things. Sure, if time weren’t a luxury you’d be happy to sit down and do it, but as things stand, it’s not important enough a task to warrant a chunk of time that could be better spent on something more practical.
Why Create an Internet Marketing Plan?
Carrying out any kind of marketing activity takes time, be it directory submissions, setting up a pay per click campaign, updating a social media site or writing an optimized article to be uploaded to your website. However, each of these actions can be fragmented, lack a common mission or not be clearly tailored to a particular type of audience. Creating an online marketing plan joins all of the dots of your marketing activity together to create a picture, with a clear target market in mind, defined objectives or goals, realistic budget and a breakdown of the types of sites, content and activities that you’ll achieve to reach those goals.
As a blueprint for your year’s activities, the more detail and time you can put into your internet marketing plan now, the more you’ll save later. If it really isn’t feasible for you to sit down and plan your year’s online marketing at a glance, aim for a quarterly plan instead and simply re-visit and update at the end of each three-month period. However long or short your plan is, it should help to give a clear structure to your thoughts and strategies when you start online marketing.
The first step in any online marketing plan is to decide who your customer is. You may already have covered this ground if you’ve done a recent business plan but, it’s useful to go through again as you may have some new insight into who your ideal client actually is. This section is a definition of what you want in your customer – if you could create an ideal client, who would they be? Ask yourself the following questions and answer them as if you were creating a perfect client from scratch.
- Is your client male or female?
- Which age bracket is your ideal client found in?
- What level of education does the ideal client have?
- What type of profession(s) would you typically expect them to occupy?
- How much disposable income do they have?
- Where do they do their weekly shop? Buy clothes? Household appliances?
- How often do they purchase your product? Once or twice a week? Monthly? Annually?
- Does this client use Google to search for products, services and local companies?
- Which websites does this client visit most regularly?
Now you know who you’re targeting, you can start to form an idea of the kinds of websites you’ll need to integrate into your marketing plan. If your ideal client is tech-savvy for example, will you invest in PPC or will you just do SEO? If you can envisage your client visiting sites like Facebook regularly, you know that you need to consider a sustained social media strategy. Budgetary restrictions may also mean that you need a good hook for your online marketing in the form of a giveaway or other purchase incentives.
In my next blog post, I’ll continue the discussion with the remaining three steps in writing an online marketing plan.