The first and most important thing is to figure out where your customers are. I saw a question not too long ago that said they wanted to market to "middle aged women who are into fashion". Then you should spend all of your time on Pintrest!
I've taught a lot of wedding professionals how to specifically target brides using Facebook. For instance, we would run ads to women between the ages of 22-35 who had changed their status to "engaged" in the last 6 months.
So, first figure out what websites or social networks your customers love. Then build your platform there. Meanwhile, you need to have a strong website that you're driving traffic to, so you don't build your online "house" on rented property (facebook, twitter, pintrest, etc). That way if the rules change at any of those sites, you've built a following at your website as well.
I'm currently launching a company that does exactly this for my business clients. I help create an online "personality" for businesses. If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to schedule a call.
Pre-website or post-website?
If they're going to be building that first site or spending money to promote it, it's appropriate to take a hard look at the domain name they're building on and advertising.
Good decisions with the domain / brand name generally prevent wasted money and effort for years to come.
That's the 1 step in the process I specialize in. So if they need to choose that domain name (or re-evalute whatever they picked up for $10 during a hurried 5 minutes years before), then I'm the guy to talk to.
The type of business you are going to be marketing could determine if an online marketing campaign would be beneficial or not. Some businesses do better with drive by business if they are retail. I doubt very few people go online to find a Wendy's, McDonald's or even a Sonic, but if you have a service business the key element to starting any online marketing campaign is to have a decent website. It can be one page, but have a website. To keep it simple you might start with Google or Bing advertising and set your daily limits to fit your budget. There are many other ways to attract business online by giving a free quote. I started doing this a couple years back and one section of my business double literally overnight. I found that they didn't really want to talk to anyone they just wanted a quote based on their situation. Nailing down the best solution requires getting all the information you can about free websites to advertise as well as paid. Don't discount having multiply websites with different domains. I suggest search friendly domains, versus branding domains. A branding domain is one like Geico. We know they sell insurance, but if you come up with some strange word it's not going to be understood until you reach the masses. Try inserting a key term of your company in a domain and focusing on one product or service. I started out with two websites and now I have around 30 that produces 90% of my business leads. Learning some basic skills to maintain your own website is fairly simple and can be done by the average person if they can do Microsoft Word. It's actually that easy. I've been in business 25 years this coming April. If we can assist you with getting you started don't hesitate to give me a call. We have set up many businesses, hotels and apartment complexes. Good Luck!
Before you do anything, start with identifying why you want to do online marketing and your goals. Then, you should explore target audiences - how do they make purchase decisions, where and how do they get information online, etc. And a key part of marketing online is having a Website that performs (e.g. drives lead, sales, downloads, etc.) if you online marketing performs well - you're wasting your time otherwise.
You start with a website, which is the hub of all your online marketing. Even if you have a website, chances are great, if you're new to online marketing much has to be revisited.
Yes, you'll proceed into email, social, search and so forth, but the purpose of each will be to drive qualified traffic to your site, so it must be ready to do business.
At my site, you'll find a free guide to creating a marketing focused site, "21 Pointers to Sharpen Your Site."
If you have never tried online marketing and if you wish to start it keep the following points in mind:
1. Decide on a business idea: This first step likely sounds like a no brainer. But you’d be surprised how often potential entrepreneurs jump ahead to branding or web development before having a firm idea in place.
Why are you doing this?
It is a simple question to ask yourself and the answer can very well determine if your business will be successful. Every good business needs to have a mission and a purpose behind it.
Are you leveraging your strengths?
Alongside the first question, it is also good to ask yourself if you’re really equipped to handle your new business idea. Developing a business around a hobby, skill, or side hustle that you know inside and out gives you a certain level of expertise to leverage.
What problem are you solving?
Now just because you have a certain skill set or hobby that you like, doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a market for it. You need to be solving some sort of real-world problem and ensure that there are potential customers that are looking for a solution.
Can your business function solely online?
A unique aspect of starting an online business is determining whether it can solely operate online. Something like a SAAS business or online learning business likely does not require any sort of physical infrastructure to operate.
2. Validate your business idea: After you’ve determined that you should start a business and have an idea in mind, you need to validate it.
Look through customer reviews: One simple method for gauging current customer interest is looking through competitive reviews. See how people respond, what they like and dislike and check the overall volume of feedback.
Set up a landing page: Without setting up a full website, you can run a simple preview landing page to tease your business, product, or service. Give a quick rundown of features, pricing, a release window, etc. and include an email subscription signup prompt to start building out a mailing list.
Survey potential customers: As mentioned before, one of the simplest ways to validate your business is talking with customers. But if you cannot interact with them in-person, another option is to conduct online surveys. Like driving traffic to a preview website, you can simply run a handful of digital ads promoting your survey to gather responses.
3. Start your business plan
Once you have determined potential interest in your business, it’s time to start developing your business plan. Luckily, as you’ve gone through the process of defining and validating your idea, you’ve actually laid out the initial pieces of your business plan.
Lean Planning: Start with a Lean Business Plan, something you can do in 30 minutes rather than six weeks. A Lean Plan is quicker and easier to write and distils your plan down to the essentials.
Conduct a market analysis: You have already done pieces of a market analysis through the exploration of your business idea. But conducting a thorough market exploration alongside a SWOT analysis is necessary to confirm the market for your product and identify your competition.
Consider funding and success metrics: Take some time to identify your start-up costs and think through how you plan to fund your business. Even if your online business will just be a side gig, for now, do yourself a favour and think through the business and sales metrics that you should be tracking so that you know if you’re heading in the right direction.
Review those metrics regularly, comparing what you forecasted with your actual sales.
4. Set up your website: With your business plan in hand, you can now look to get your website up and running. But this will not be as simple of a process as setting up a preview landing page. There are several decisions to be made regarding hosting, platform, and design to effectively represent your business. Your website, especially for an online business, is the greatest representation of our business and needs to accurately reflect your products, services, and mission. Here is what you need to consider when setting up your company website. An eCommerce site is the most direct form of online business you can start, compared to a business that uses a third-party platform or marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, Amazon, or Airbnb. When you build and host your own eCommerce site, you will be selling your goods and services directly to your customers, without a «go-between. You retain control. The best part about a direct eCommerce site is the level of control you have over your store. Evaluate the pros and cons. The fact that your customers will have to visit the third party to buy from you has benefits and drawbacks. If you are interested in renting out your vacation property, using Airbnb’s platform means that it will probably be easier for anyone to find you when they search for lodging in your area because of Airbnb’s growing popularity. But it is also easier for consumers to compare similar products, which makes your ability to differentiate yourself more important. For instance, if you decide to use Etsy to sell handcrafted cutting boards when a potential customer searches for cutting boards on the site, they will wade through potentially hundreds or thousands of relatively similar listings. Focus on what makes you stand out. The last thing you want is to find out that one or the other is registered to some other business. There are clear benefits to having a domain name that is the same as your company or product name. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find you when they search for you online. The same is true when you are naming your storefront if you are using an online platform like Etsy or eBay. In some instances, it will make sense to build your own site. If you are building an actual online product, like a SaaS product, your team probably already has the skills necessary to build your marketing website. If you are simply using the web as a platform to sell something analog you might benefit more from using an existing platform, or at least a templated eCommerce option, so you are not starting from scratch. Hiring a web design firm is always an option. Either way, remember that it is never a bad idea to build out a minimum viable product site first. Content marketing may or may not be part of your initial marketing plan. The key here is to retain optionality. Monetizing your eCommerce site through affiliate partnerships and on-site ads is something to consider. If you do decide to incorporate third-party ads on your site, start slowly, especially if your site is minimalist at first. When you launch your site, if it’s self-hosted, set up Google Analytics, or look into whether your third-party solution can offer you monthly insights on how well your site is performing.
5. Make it legal: There are a few steps you will have to take to make sure your business is legal. The SBA gives a thorough rundown of the specifics of online business law, so make sure to brush up on them before you start your online business. Ultimately, starting an online business is like starting a business with a physical storefront. You will still need to validate your idea; do business planning and you’ll benefit from making sure you understand your tax obligations from the start. If you need some inspiration when working on your own business plan, you may want to check out some of our online store sample plans. You can even download a free business plan template to fill out as you work through some of the business plan examples. If you would like more assistance, you might want to check out our business plan template available through our software, LivePlan.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath