Whether you're a business looking to shift to an online marketing service and strategy, or a new business starting at the beginning, the path to a thoughtful marketing plan starts with answering a few questions and setting yourself up for success.
1. What is your business offering?
Before you can reach across the online world, you need to be clear with what your business is offering. What is your service, value and mission? Can you explain in one sentence what you do, so that it is easy for your customers and advocates to understand what you do immediately.
2. What is your business model?
If you're a new business, or a local business moving to an online business model, consider the what want to advertise. Is it pay per session, a subscription bundle, donation based, group offers, or one-on-one? Know what you're offering so that your messaging accurately represents that.
3. Is there a specific audience you're trying to reach?
There are many ways to market online, multiple social media platforms, media outlets, and tactics like blog articles and newsletters. You do not have to do it all. By narrowing down the audience you want to reach, you can be thoughtful around your tactic to reach them. Is there a specific age group, gender, location, or specific interest that you are focusing on? Determining your customer demographic is the key to everything else.
4. Where is this audience located, online?
The next step is figuring out where they can be found online. This directly relates to where you want to push your brand and messaging. There are 2.7 billion people on social media so you have to narrow your outreach a little bit. Is this group on Facebook more than Instagram? Are they active on LinkedIn? Being able to pinpoint this will make you able to focus on a few things instead of too many things.
5. What problems or needs does this group have?
Before you have customers, you might have an idea of the problems you can solve for clients. Do new moms have time to take a workout class at 8am? Do freelancers need help with taxes? Do people working from home need back exercises from sitting all day? Step into the mind of your audience and gear your messaging to speak to them about solving their needs.
6. How do you want clients to describe you?
This may seem like a weird one in regards to marketing, but it's a slight nuanced way of thinking about the way you communicate and how you want to approach new interested customers. Are you flexible and kind? Are you straight forward and unwavering? Are you a mix of both? Consider this for a moment, and practice writing social media posts and emails in multiple "brand voices" and see what you like most or feels most natural.
7. Automate your social media
After you've decided what social media platforms to focus on, and the type of messaging you want to write, you can do some work upfront and "set it and forget it". Interested in creating a schedule that doesn't ruin your life?
8. Create a quick website
93% of all consumers search online to find and research local businesses and of those, 30% won’t even consider a business without a website. Adding a website to your email signature and social media profiles legitimizes your business and offering that much more. But, you don't need much.
9. What tools or images do you need to get started?
Once you answer these preliminary questions, set up your social media accounts, and get a free website going, it's time to add in your own flavor. Do have a logo, images or videos to go with your social posts and website? If not, consider these useful design tools to get you started.
10. Keep interested people engaged
You have 15 seconds to grab someone’s attention. That's in reality, what marketing your business online is. Did you catch someone's eye? Did they like what you had to say? Was it the right place at the right time? And once you have them interested, there's still more work to be done to keep them as happy customers who may refer you to their friends. Learn more about talking to new customers.
11. See what works
And while, maybe you won't do this all today. The easiest way to approach marketing is first, knowing who your audience is and what value you are bringing to them. Second, constructing your messaging to clearly connect your service to your future customer. And third, if you don't find success - then you try again by updating your website, or trying new social post types, or asking customers for useful feedback.
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