Online marketing. For business owners who haven’t started an online marketing program, the concept can often cause them to feel overwhelmed. Having a vague idea of what online marketing is, but not knowing where to begin, can make it difficult to start. But in today’s connected world, advertising your business online is a must. Without an online marketing strategy, you’re missing out on crucial business leads and the opportunity to connect with your customers through social media. But have no fear! Chances are you already know many key elements of online marketing and don’t even realize it.
You might be thinking, “Me? Know online marketing?” You might not know it, but if you understand some business basics, you already have a head start when it comes to online marketing. Here are five essentials about online marketing you didn’t realize you already know.
1) Your Brand
Elements like logos, taglines, brand voice, color palette, image requirements, and overall brand personality are vital to your brand. You know what these items are and you know how they work together to communicate your brand to your audience. Having this knowledge is essential before any Tweet, Facebook update, or blog post is ever created. If you’re armed with a solid understanding of your brand, you’ve already taken the first step in building an online marketing strategy for your business.
2) Your Audience
The fact is, you know your audience because you know your customers. Renter or home owner? Male or female? College grad or retiring Boomer? The demographics list of every company varies, but no matter how your audience skews, you know who they are. You understand what your customers are looking for in your market and why they seek you out (or should seek you out). With this knowledge, you’re on your way to creating an online marketing plan that’s targeted to the right people. For instance, if you know that your audience is heavily female, then you know that Pinterest might be a good option for your business since the site tends to attract more women than men. Without understanding the wants, needs, and values of your customers, then you could be wasting your time trying an online marketing strategy that isn’t right for your business.
3) Your Specials & Offers
Print coupons. Loyalty discounts. Buy-one-get-one-free specials. Whatever your company is offering in terms of specials and offers, you know what they are. But now you can take your offers to an online audience. For example, you could send a special email to your client database promoting a two-for-one deal that you’re planning. Or you could create a custom image to promote a 20% off promotion special to your Facebook fans. With the myriad of online platforms you can take advantage of online, you have unlimited opportunities to share your specials and offers to your audience.
4) Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats
Every business has strengths and weaknesses, as well as marketplace opportunities and threats to its business, otherwise known as SWOT. By taking time to think of each category as it relates to your business, you can begin to create various jumping-off points into an effective online marketing program.
- Strengths: What is your business best at in your marketplace? Why do customers tell you they chose you over competitors? When you understand your strengths, you have excellent opportunities to tell your story to your online audience. For example, if you won an industry award or were voted by consumers as the best in your industry, you could post that information on your social pages and website.
- Weaknesses: You know where you need to shore up your business, and hopefully you’re actively addressing those areas that need improvement. For instance, frequently monitoring review sites and social media pages for reviews and feedback is a great way to see what people are saying about you, so you can take steps to respond publicly to them and address any operations or customer service issues with your staff. There are several proactive ways you can address those reviews using a reputation management program.
- Opportunities: You have a clear idea of what’s going on in your market and how your company can benefit. You see areas to gain profit, gain clients, grow your operations, etc. For example, perhaps your current clients have been requesting evening and Saturday hours. Seeing an opportunity to meet their needs as well as earn additional revenue, you decide to expand your hours of operation. Then, you could advertise your expanded hours in your online ads or in social media pages.
- Threats: You know the areas in the marketplace that are encroaching on your business. One of the biggest threats to your business is your competition. Knowing who your competitors are and how they’re advertising to your audience is very important. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to create a differentiated, unique message to present to your audience. For instance, if your competitors are new to the industry, you could advertise that you’ve been in business for 25 years. This key differentiator can build confidence with your potential customers.
5) Your Existing Advertising Strategy
Billboards, television ads, Yellow Pages, and beyond. If you’ve used traditional advertising methods in the past and know what did and didn’t work, you have an excellent foundation of knowledge that will help you to decide what kind of online marketing to add to the mix. The great thing about online marketing compared to traditional advertising is that you get better audience targeting, tracking and measurement of leads and return on investment, and the opportunity to reach additional audiences. If you already have one or two online strategies, such as a Facebook page or emails to your clients, you can also assess how successful they have been. But, having just one or two online platforms isn’t enough for a strong online marketing program. Here’s your chance to think of adding new online marketing strategies to your current spend.
If the thought of creating and launching an online marketing program for your business feels overwhelming, just remember that you already know more about online marketing than you may have realized. You have an excellent foundation of knowledge on which you can begin to move into the online marketing space. To learn more about how an online marketing partner can work for your business, visit www.reachlocal.com.
What challenges have you faced when marketing your business online? Share your comments below.