As an entrepreneur or small to medium sized organisation, you may be asking, “Why do I need an Online Marketing Plan?” After all, I’m too busy working to deliver my product or service to my customers and managing my finances. There isn’t enough time!
Let’s be clear, needs and wants are not always the same thing. Most people want to be able to reach their audience and sell their product to their market as cost effectively as possible. In order to achieve this, they often need a strategy or plan. You should spend some time thinking, planning and strategizing about your online marketing. This can be a challenge if you are a freelancer or entrepreneur, but it is well worth the time investment. If you have a budget, it is worth bringing in experts, or other opinions to help you clarify your plan.
The reason why I recommend developing an Online Marketing Plan is it forces you to really think about who your market is, and what you are offering them. Most products or services are really offering your customers a benefit or value – the product unlocks the benefit. Being able to narrow down your audience to a niche or very focussed group of prospects, allows you to achieve a greater return on your marketing and advertising investment. You can spend a lot of money, very quickly and have no conversion to sales for your spend, if you don’t approach your marketing strategically.
On the other hand, don’t spend days planning an elaborate, over detailed plan and never get to market. Find the balance that works for you. Some approaches are theoretical, and can lead to “analysis paralysis” especially for entrepreneurs and small organisations. I find some of the advertising and marketing advice available is based on companies that have massive budgets and teams to manage the details. This won’t necessarily work for a small organisation.
The fundamentals of any marketing plan, is to answer the questions: Who, What, Why, Where, When and How. Who is your market and Who are you? What are you offering, what problem are you solving? Why should your audience use your offer, why does it benefit the potential buyer, and why are you offering this? The Where, When and How are the places and time you will engage your audience, and the process or action needed by the potential customer to take you up on your offer. This is usually represented by a Call-To-Action or CTA. Being in a position to better understand and answer these questions will really help you to narrow your audience down to a niche and target them better. It also allows you to adapt your message to the different target audiences that you may discover. The goal is a higher conversion rate from a smaller audience.
Online Marketing Plans are meant to be living documents that adapt as you learn more about your audience. With Online Marketing today, the analytics data and targeting options available, really make it easier to learn about your audience. You can also measure your results with much higher accuracy.
Developing an Online Marketing Plan will help you reach the right audience with the right message at the right time. For content marketing it can also help you keep the focus on your desired outcome, and continuously drive your CTA home. Lastly, adapt your plan and let it work for you. Find the practical balance between knowing and doing. A plan without action is not going to help you.