Confusing isn’t it?
Everyone says you have to do this online marketing thing. Problem is, you don’t really know where to start. Everything you read seems contradictory, and there are so many experts clamoring for your attention.
Why is this so hard?
Here’s how to sort through the clutter and get the help you need.
How To Hire The Right Professional
SEO experts, like Alex Miller, will tell you that you need SEO, and local marketing if you’re a small business owner. But, how do you find an expert that you can trust? Simple: work with someone who is already successfully working with others in your industry.
For example, if your competition is using an SEO expert, who is it? And, how successful are they at advertising? When you find competition that’s doing better than you, find out who they’re using and use them.
It’s a sort of “follow the money” approach, but it works.
Another way to hire the right expert is to interview them. Ask who their current clients are and whether they have clients in your industry or niche. If they don’t, odds are they’re not going to be a terrific match. They won’t understand your audience or market very well and will have to spend a lot of time researching it (which costs you a lot of money).
But, even when you find an experienced SEO professional, don’t stop there. Along with the expertise, you need a good personality match. If you and your hired help aren’t on the same “wavelength” psychologically, you’ll never work well together.
Develop A Roadmap
Before you implement any strategy, make a roadmap. Where are you now? Where do you want to be? It doesn’t have to be elaborate. In fact, most marketing plans should be simple to start out. You can worry about complexity later.
Start with a linear progression. You only need one or two strategies to get off the ground. Make those strategies count, though. So, for example, you wouldn’t want to choose something like branding as your first approach because that’s an expensive way to spend ad dollars.
Instead, you would want to start with a direct response format so you can get some quick results, prove ROI, and justify spending more money on advertising to get the revenue coming in the door.
Your roadmap should contain one main strategy and a backup strategy. That’s it. Draw a line from where you are now to where you want to be and then create milestones along the way – goals you have to hit along the way.
And, create the tasks that will help you achieve those goals.
Develop Your Audience
You can’t do anything without a market or audience. But, the mistake most businesses make online is that they don’t develop an audience before they start selling a product. They expect the audience to just appear (magically) so they can sell them something.
It doesn’t work that way. You need to spend time in forums, on blogs in the comments section, writing for online publications, and buying ads and getting people on your mailing list.
Just like with local marketing, you need to become well-known in your online market. Only after that can you start making sales.
And, the more you stay in touch with your audience, the better they get to know you. You don’t always have to pitch your products or services, but you do need to entertain them and keep them interested in your company. That way, they have a positive overall attitude or feeling towards your brand. And, when they’re ready to buy, you’ll be “front of mind.”
Use The Right Marketing Channels
The right marketing channels are the ones where you’re most likely to reach your target audience. If you’re spending a lot of time in car forums trying to sell knitting needles, for example, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
Your market typically “lives” in a particular place. Go to that place and market to them.
For example, if you’re trying to reach business owners, you’re probably better off going to LinkedIn and spending time on Facebook than you are any other platform. The B2B market there is huge.
But, if you’re a non-profit organization, you might be better off on Twitter.
If you run a business that relies heavily on showcasing merchandise, you might do well on sites like Pinterest and Instagram.
The important thing is to find your audience and then market to them on platforms where they already exist, rather than trying to get them to switch to a platform that you personally like.
Zak Manning is a marketing and branding consultant who works with online start-ups as well as more established businesses to help them rebrand. He writes occasionally for some of the business blogs when he has time.