In Alex Sirota’s article “Cloud Marketing Leads to Success” at ITbulletin, Alex outlines the importance of having a comprehensive marketing plan and the basics to getting your company started with online marketing initiatives.
I agree with everything he has written especially that marketing ought to be seen not only as advertising and public relations but an open gateway to generate new customers, engage those customers and keep them content for long-term retention. It’s extremely important to keep a great relationship with your customers, as customer lifetime value is much greater than a one-time purchase.
So what is the importance of having a solid marketing plan?
Well “Most entrepreneurs misunderstand the planning of marketing efforts, and wonder why their business is not running to forecast”. Unfortunately poorly planned marketing efforts involve throwing money towards an initiative and not seeing a positive return on investment. Usually this happens when a business does not properly understand their target audience, creates an appropriate message to capture their audience, and does not have a well developed and researched campaign. Gather your team and spend some quality time during the week to really understand your customer, create a plan and execute! There is no point in spending thousands of dollars on an advertisement on a high traffic website or high viewed magazine if your audience doesn't visit or read either medium.
As Sirota mentioned, start with a very basic marketing plan and outline the 8P’s: Price, Product, Promotion, Placement, People, Physical Environment, Process, and Packaging. (there are really 7, the 8th always changes depending on your business)The article starts off with some great basic ideas. However, here are a few Promotion extras that may be extremely valuable to include in your plan:
Building a website is a great idea and using Wordpress and TypePad makes it much easier. The greatest benefit with these content management systems is that you do not need to understand html to create new and relevant content on your website.Additionally you are going to want to see a return on investment with your website. The best way to do this is by using Google Analytics and creating a contact page with a form that customers can fill out. Google Analytics is free analytical software that allows you to see the statistics of your website, how users visited your website, where they came from, how they use your website and much more! It’s extremely easy to install and with a contact form you can track your site’s conversion rate and see a return on investment.
Take online promotion a step further try running an Adwords campaign. Not only is this a great way to promote your website, it can help you optimize your website for search. Start by reading Adwords basics, make sure there is a way to track conversion on your site, create a loose plan and follow through. The beauty of an adwords campaign is once you start running your campaigns and developing better ads that closely tailor to your customer needs, you learn more about what really drives your customer to your product. By learning what keywords people use to click your ads and what ads are effective you can maximize your return on investment. The amount of investment is pretty low considering Google gives you $100 to start your Adwords campaign.
Blogging and Social Media
Blog about your company, your products, its partners, and anything that you find relevant and interesting. Try to blog 1-3 times a week, encourage customers to comment and engage in conversation.Social media gives you some leverage with building brand loyalty. It is a great place to offer product or service tips, ideas and promotions. With more followers, your brand is exposed to more and more potential customers.The most important thing with both blogging and social media is you have the opportunity to respond to these customers in active conversation, thank them for their contribution or compliments and finally help them solve their problems. Lululemon is a great example of an organization that actively engages consumers and works hard to build and maintain relationships online. Here's an example of their twitter feed.
By fortifying your marketing plan with some small and cost effective online initiatives and really understanding how to analyze online Analytics, your business can truly realize a solid return on investment.