You’re a small business that’s about to open its doors. You’ve got a great product or service, a physical store location, and you have all your print marketing materials (including signs, flyers, one-sheets, and business cards) printed and ready to go. You even have someone developing your website with all the latest bells and whistles. Life is good… right?
I recently found a business exactly like this. Guess what, were I an evil person, I could have brought the party to a screeching halt.
What’s the one thing this business didn’t do? Something that would have cost them everything they invested in all those marketing materials.
They didn’t register their domain name first! For $10 I could buy the domain out from under them, refuse to sell (or sell at an outrageous cost), and everything they had made would need to be altered or reprinted with a new web address. A small business can’t afford that kind of oversight.
Now, you can blame one of two people: the business owner or the website developer. Personally, I lean toward the website developer, because in my experience the business owner doesn’t know they should register their domain. The web developer should have bought the domain name as soon as he was handed the first check for the job.
These types of mistakes are why it’s necessary to have someone who knows online marketing handy during any new product launch. They shouldn’t be caught-up in the technology. They should be sweating the small stuff (like registering a domain name) that will save you money in the end.
There are currently two schools of thought regarding online marketing: micro-failures and strategic planning.
Micro-failures are a way to take small steps into the online space. Pick an area of digital marketing to try, set up a test, run the test, analyse the results, draw conclusions, refine the test, and repeat. It’s what I consider the “scientific method” of marketing.
Strategic planning requires a lot of research, drawing up a plan of action, determining worst case scenarios, evaluating risk/reward, putting together the right team, and finally executing after a lot of time (and money) invested. I would call this the “planning for battle” mentality of marketing.
The thing to keep in mind before determining how you’re going to approach the digital space is how this will impact your brand. Micro-failures can be a huge detriment to brands that need to maintain a winning image. Strategic planning can kill a smaller brand’s attempt to enter the space due to high upfront costs. In either case, what works best for your competition may not be best for your company, so figure out what’s right for your brand before rushing to beat the competition.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts about evaluating building a mobile application for your company. But with the mobile space clearly expanding (smartphones, tablets, e-readers) determining a mobile strategy is important.
So how should one start to develop a strategy for your company? It starts with finding out what your market looks like in the mobile space.
Once you understand where your customers live in the mobile space, you can start to figure out what channels you can reach them on.
One of the most effective tools to reach customers is SMS. The reason being that most of the people in the country, despite the growing smartphone market, have simple cell phones that don’t have Internet access. Through simple SMS campaigns, you can get customer buy-in through promotional campaigns. But remember, customers need to opt-in before you start sending them messages.
You’ve spent a long time working through your marketing plan. Everything seems to be in order. You’re all ready to present it for approval. So the last thing to do before you walk into that meeting is…
Make a flow chart. Yes, time to brush off those circle and line drawing abilities because if it’s not visual, it’s just words on a page.
I find it useful to draw out all the channels, lines of connection, and examples of content that drives those connections for people to see. That way everyone understands what you mean by “the Twitter feed will drive traffic to the blog.”
Besides being a helpful tool for explaining your plan to others, it’s also a great way to check that each channel has a purpose and goal that has some measure for success. It may be low-tech, but it may save you from a high-tech blunder.
Quick scenario: Your marketing budget is frozen, no new initiatives are to get approval, and everyone is looking at you to make things happen. What do you do?
One idea is to look at your current marketing plan and ask what its original purpose was. Was there a larger strategy into which it fit? Were there clearly defined, measurable and obtainable goals outlined before its creation?
If your looking at the current marketing plan and scratching your head trying to answer these questions, then it is time to go back and start fresh with a new strategy. Make sure that strategy includes clearly defined metrics and measures of success. Once you have that, create a new marketing plan that fits into this strategy.
Present both the strategy and the marketing plan to others in the company to gain buy-in. If this new plan makes sense, you might just find your marketing budget freed-up to enact this new plan of attack.