Are you asking yourself How Should I Market My Business Online? If you are – Great! You’re already thinking past just going to market.
In meeting with various types and sizes of startups, we see how they’ve put together their product or service, but they haven’t put any budget aside to market their offering(s) rather than telling their friends and family through repeated Facebook posts.
If you build it, they will come.<--- This doesn’t work unless you’re Kevin Costner and see ghosts.
With over 300,000 patents filed in 2014 alone, and those numbers growing annually, there’s a chance that your product or service has competition. And think about the enormous amount of ideas that aren’t being patented that are going to market. Someone else may not be doing exactly what you’re doing, but they’re probably doing the same thing in a different way.
This doesn’t mean your product or service isn’t special, or doesn’t have an audience. What this does mean is your audience is being shown various different ways to do what your product does by your competitors.
Why Do Businesses Fail?
The list is endless. If you’ve spoken to me about business or reaching goals, you’ve heard me say, “There’s a million ways to fail and one way to do it right.” How do I know? I’ve failed multiple times before succeeding, yet I’ve learned more from those failures than if I would have been successful out of the gate. This is where it gets fun.
Most businesses today, especially local businesses, fail because they’ve built their business with the thought that it’s going to “explode”. I’ve likened this many times to spending your life saving for your dream car. One day, you finally get it! Would you put it in the garage, never drive it or tell anyone about it? Why would you do this with your business? Without having a well thought out promotional plan, with a real budget to implement it, you’ve only done half of the work.
Don’t Assume Your Audience Will Find You
Your potential customers are busy. Time is their biggest commodity. They’re searching online for your product or service. It’s your job to get it in front of them. For years in traditional POS marketing, this has included vendors literally fighting over shelf space, end cap displays, building relationships with major retailers.
This applies in the digital marketing realm as well. Endemic marketing, paying for placement on coupon sites, PPC marketing, SEO, and digital PR are just a few strategies you should research before going to market.
How Can You Promote Your Business Online?
There is no easy way to the top these days. Properly marketing your offerings includes creating a strategy to reach your audience. There’s various ways of doing this.
- Blogging: Once your website is live, begin blogging about your niche. Become the expert at what you do. Learn how to blog properly using a free Copyblogger membership.
- Research Your Competition: If you’ve found a niche where the sky is the limit but nobody is doing it, find out why. If you don’t think you have competition, you’re wrong. Research others in your field. Just because they’re not doing exactly what you’re doing doesn’t mean they’re not competition. Remember, before Facebook, there was MySpace. Before MySpace, there was Friendster. Facebook wasn’t a “new” idea – Zuckerberg just did it better.
- Find a Mentor: Why only learn from your mistakes? Learn from others’ mistakes so you don’t make them. Listen to advice. Ask questions. Don’t let your ego destroy your success. Entrepreneur Magazine has a few tips on how to do this.
- Accept Your Failures: Every business owner has made errors in judgement that have cost them a lot of time, money, and/or resources. The strong ones who move forward learn from these things. If you’re not constantly honing your craft, you’re regressing. When building your promotional plan, understand that everything you try will not work. Take the ones that didn’t pan out, analyze why – and pick the successes from them and focus on these areas.
- Talk With Experts: Are you interested in trying Google AdWords? Have you ever done it yourself before? If not, be prepared to accept your failures. There are specialists in various fields of promotion for a reason. Companies pay agencies to promote their products – and have been for years. Snyder Online Marketing isn’t trying to mass produce garden equipment, clothing, book vacations, or become a dentist. What we excel in is working with these companies and identifying ways to reach their audience. You need to focus on what you do best and let experts help you with what they do best.
- Set Your Goals: Know your bottom line. Know your profit margin, including expenses like keeping the lights on. From this profit margin, determine what you’d like to keep in your pocket per unit and what it’s worth spending to get a sale, and more importantly creating a long-term customer.
- Know Why You Are Making Money: If you’re making money and sitting back, you’re doing it wrong. If you don’t know where your sales are coming from, you’re doing it wrong. If you write down “paperclip marketing” in a meeting where the discussion is “pay per click marketing”, you’re in for a ride. This actually happened to me.
- Budget for Success: If you’re planning on going out to eat without tipping your server, you should stay home. If you haven’t properly budgeted for building brand trust and have a clear cut path on how to reach your target cost per sale, you need to go back to the drawing board and find the answer before spending more money on promotions. You know that spending $20 on a loaf of bread is too much. You’d also balk at a loaf of bread that costs $0.15. You know your range of comfort there. You should also know this for each and every sale or lead.
- Keep Learning: The digital landscape is constantly changing. The techniques that worked 3 years ago may no longer work today. Subscribe to journals like Moz, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, and a multitude of FREE resources online. Use Google search…literally for anything.
- Be Reasonable: When Jesus fed the multitudes with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, it was considered a miracle. When you have $500 to spend and expect to go “viral”, you’re expecting your agency to walk on water. Understand that a reasonable, thought out spend with a proper strategy will over time create a return. Your agency isn’t filled with magicians. And if it is, I’d love to meet them because that sounds awesome.