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."