It’s been a while I did this…
I’ve wanted to retire the whole Sharp Guy Guide thing, but then someone hit me up and asked:
“Tomi, how will you help me grow my business?”
And of course, when I read that, I knew I had to revisit the Sharp Guy Guides.
I know, she asked about growing her business but this post is about creating an online marketing strategy.
That is deliberate.
Because, to grow your business, you need more customers. And to get more customers, you need to market better.
And that’s why we’re going to talk about in this post.
Get something to eat and drink. And take a seat in a comfortable chair.
This is going to be a long one.
The Sharp Guy Guide To Creating An Online Marketing Strategy
Let’s be honest.
The first time you heard online marketing, you probably thought:
“Ah… network marketing, MMM things.”
I’m sorry, but that isn’t what online marketing is.
Online marketing is the process of creating awareness around your business’ products and services online, attracting prospects to your business and converting those prospects into customers through online means.
As a Sharp Guy, this involves showing your target customers what you do and getting them to buy from you.
Now, let’s talk about how to create an online marketing strategy.
How To Create An Online Marketing Strategy
There are many ways to market your business online, but if you just dabble into it, you’d find out you’re jumping from one place to another, but not really seeing a return on your investment of time and money.
And that sucks… because the whole point of marketing is to get more customers, sales and of course, that young mulah babyyy!
One major reason why that might happen is because you just jumped right in without a strategy or any plan.
Don’t feel bad. I’ve done it too.
But let’s leave that gist. Here’s how to create an online marketing strategy:
#1. Start With Your Goals In Mind
Yes, it starts with your goals.
If you dabble into online marketing without goals, you’d be shooting at a target you can’t see, and of course, you can’t achieve goals you don’t have.
There are 3 areas where you need to set goals – Business, Customers, and Shared Value Goals.
Let’s talk about each one briefly:
What are your business goals? What are you trying to achieve online?
I know, the main thing is growth but let’s get specific:
- Are you trying to sell a product or service and how many sales do you want to make?
- Are you trying to get more subscribers and how many?
- Are you trying to increase traffic to your website and how much?
Usually, your business goals will fall into these 3 areas – getting prospects, converting them into customers, and keeping those customers.
But like Zig Ziglar said:
” You’ll get what you want, if you help other people get what they want.”
That’s why we need to talk about your customer goals.
You need to know your target customer.
I don’t think there has ever been a successful campaign in the history of marketing, both online and offline that resulted from the marketing team totally ignoring who the customer is or what he wants.
If you have heard of any, abeg tell me in the comments section.
Otherwise, get to know your customer.
I’m not going to go into the full details here, because that is probably going to be a stand alone post but for now, know that you need to know their individual buyer personas -who they are, what their interests are, and where you can find them online.
But when you’re creating an online marketing strategy, you need to know what goals your customers are trying to achieve.
- What pains are my target customers trying to alleviate?
- What desires are my target customers trying to fulfill?
These 2 questions will open your eyes to the goals your target customers are trying to achieve. And when you know that, then you move on to the Shared Value Goals section.
Shared Value Goals
” Shared value” is a business concept first brought to light in a few Harvard Business Review articles by Michael E. Porter (an authority on competitive strategy and head of the Institute of Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School) and Mark R. Kramer sometime back in 2010.
They later went on to create the Shared Value Initiative, a knowledge hub that shares knowledge and practices around shared value, globally.
Okay, enough history. What is shared value?
I was watching a video by Brad Batesole, Marketing author at LinkedIn, where he gave the simplest definition of Shared value, using a simple diagram.
And as a sharp guy, that’s what you need:
Okay, from the image above, shared value goals are where your business goals meet your customer goals.
Remember the Zig Ziglar quote earlier?
What you need to do is to connect where your business goals meet your customer goals. And if they don’t yet, find a way to connect them.
Those shared value goals are what you’re going to focus in your online marketing strategy.
#2. Know Your Business
Yes, you’re allowed to laugh at me a little here.
And yes, you’re allowed to wonder:
“Tomi, are you high? How can anybody be running a business but not know the business?”
Okay, you can stop laughing now, let me explain.
Many times, people get a business idea and just jump in and set up their business.
I’m not saying that’s bad. I’m actually a big fan of just doing the damn thing already.
When you rush right into a business, there’s a huge possibility that sure, you may know what you sell, but you don’t know what your business is really about.
I’ve asked a few #NaijaEntrepreneurs what their business is about.
They tell me “I sell x” . I’m like “Mhmm… and?”
Then they look at me like I don’t speak English.
I used to ask: “What’s your unique selling proposition?” but due to the fact, that most of them don’t really know what that is, I now ask:
” What makes your business unique?”
“Why would a customer buy from you instead of your competition?”
“What does your brand stand for?”
The idea is to get them to realize that what they sell isn’t actually their products, it’s about the unique value they provide.
Take the time to answer these 3 questions and you’ll have an idea of what your business is really about.
#3. Know Your Customers
I was going to leave this one alone, but I think it needs mentioning in this post.
I listened to a live audio by Samuel Gold Akinpelu, founder of The ThinkHub podcast, and I loved how he broke this down so I’m just going to explain it like he did.
There are 2 main parts to getting to know your customer:
- Demographics – age ranges, gender, location, job roles, income, etc
- Psychographics – their pain points, interests, goals and desires
When you know the demographics and psychographics of your customers, you can pretty much figure out where they hang out online.
Another way to figure that out is to google “Demographics of social media” (because we know they’re definitely on social media somewhere) and you’ll find out where they are online.
And that is pertinent information, because where they are online will determine how you reach them.
#4. Know Your Budget
No, this is not like that 2015 National Budget that, if memory serves me well,
never really came came late.
When you’re developing an online marketing strategy, you need to know your budget.
And I’m not just talking about money.
You need to know:
- Of course, How much money you have to spend on marketing
- How much time you or your firm has to spend marketing
- What human resources you have available
If you have too mush money, of course you can invest in Pay Per Click Ads on Google, and promote like GTB on social media.
But if you’re not rich as Mike Adenuga, you might want to double down on your content marketing, SEO and unpaid social media marketing.
Also, if you decide to promote on social media, you’re going to need to spend at least 1 hour a day on social media, and more if you want to achieve more success in your social media marketing.
Do you have that much time to do that?
Definitely put your available time into consideration.
Now, human resources…
Will you be running this strategy all by yourself, or do you have a team in place or will you hire outside help?
Your strategy will obviously be different when you have to do it all by yourself from when you have a team in place so put that into consideration when you are creating your online marketing strategy.
#5. Know Your Channels
Channels are simply how you plan to reach your customers.
There are multiple channels for marketing online and while they are many, most times your customers will tend to favour some over the others.
So how do you choose your marketing channels?
Well, for starters, this will depend on where your customers hang out online. Here are a few more tips for choosing your marketing channels:
(i) Search marketing is a must
Recent statistics show that Google processes over 3.5 billion searches a day.
A large number of those searches are people looking for a solution to issues they face. Problems which might just fall within your service description.
If you overlook the power of search marketing, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice.
Whether you decide to rank organically (SEO) or you decide to pay Google to display your ads whenever people search for keywords related to your business (SEM), by all means, make sure you show up in search.
(ii) Your business needs to be on social media
As of this moment, there are 2.46 billion people who use social media worldwide.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear numbers like that, I think:
“If I can even get 1% of that amount to be my customers, I will be made.”
With numbers like that, social media is an obvious choice for a marketing channel.
(iii) Build your presence on the social media networks your target customers use
Since social media first went mainstream, new social media networks just sorta keep cropping up out of the blue.
And that number keeps growing each year. But with so many options to pick from, it can be confusing deciding which ones to start with.
1. You shouldn’t start with all of them.
2. You should focus on the social networks your target customers use.
But if you were going to start with any social media platform, then it had better be Facebook. Facebook is the dominant social media platform right now and their dominance keeps climbing each year.
Here are social media use stats for last year from Pew Research Center:
If you offer a Business-to-Business (B2B) service, focus your efforts on LinkedIn.
If on the other hand, you’re marketing a product targeted towards a younger age group, then Instagram, and Snapchat would do wonders for you.
Focus your social media marketing on platforms where your customers are.
(iv) Build your own platform
I was scouring through Instagram a couple months back and I noticed that too many entrepreneurs and business owners in Nigeria sell their products only through Instagram.
This is not good.
I mean, you might be making some money through that, but think about this:
” What if you woke up tomorrow and Instagram and Facebook were either gone or had become irrelevant?”
I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but it has happened before (Remember MySpace, Hi-5).
That’s one good reason why you should have your own platform – your website and blog. Another reason is that when you promote on social media, you’re mainly renting the platform to get the word out about your business.
Meaning, you’re not in control.
Recently, Facebook has made it more difficult to reach your audience organically. Obviously, this is so you’ll pay to boost your promotions.
You can’t control that, but if it were your own site you could.
(v) Email marketing is still alive and well
Some people think email marketing has gone the way of the Dinosaurs, Babangida and that man who said he had to ask his “Oga at the Top”.
But as always, depending on what some people say will lead you in the wrong direction.
It’s much better to depend on numbers, because numbers don’t lie.
A study done by McKinsey and Co in 2014 on how US companies acquire new customers showed that email marketing was 40 times better at converting prospects into clients than Facebook and Twitter combined.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like email marketing is not just alive, but is also well and kicking ass.
Use these guidelines as the basic rules, and then test to see what works for your business.
#6. Create Your Action Schedule
After you decide how you’re going to reach your customers, come up with a schedule for your action items.
These may include creating blog posts, sharing content on social media, creating videos, networking with influencers, etcetera shmetcetera.
You also need to plan what times you’ll be creating content.
Because, make no mistake, no matter what you choose, you will be creating content in one form or the other.
To do that effectively, you need to know what you’re creating, for whom you’re creating and when you’re publishing it.
Making the schedule before hand makes it easy to just plug it in without having to bother about what to create each time.
#7. Know Your Conversion Funnel
So you’ve attracted the prospect to your business. Good.
Now you’ve got to know and understand the routes your average customers take before they buy from you.
That’s what your marketing funnel is. It shows you what channels they came from, what pages they looked at and everything they did on your site before they decided to buy from you.
You need to understand this so you know what channels to focus on (the ones bringing you a lot of leads) and what channels to stop focusing on (the ones bringing you no leads).
An understanding of your conversion funnel will help you see where your marketing efforts are paying off and areas you need to improve on.
This becomes easier to do when you…
#8. Get Analytical
To do this, you’ll have to set up an analytics tool (e.g. Google Analytics) from the beginning.
It’s a pain in the ass, but gathering data about your marketing efforts is very necessary.
It’s how you find areas you can work on, and areas to double down on.
Also, web analytics helps you keep track of how you’re doing in relation to your marketing goals and objectives.
It’s like that Peter Drucker quote – “Whatever gets measured gets improved.”
#9. Run A/B tests on everything and optimize
You’re going to need to adopt a new maxim: ” Always Be Testing”.
Keep running A/B tests comparing the conversion rates of two different types of landing page copy, or the colour of your call to action buttons.
Get scientific with it.
Come up with a hypothesis about a part of your marketing efforts, write it down.
Test the hypothesis against the original (A/B test) for a specified period of time. If it improves your conversion rate, keep the new variant and look for more ways to improve on that.
Always be testing.
#10. Break Down Your Online Marketing Strategy Into Little Chunks
It’s easy to say:
” We’re going to do (insert big marketing goal here) this year.”
What’s harder is the execution. Especially if you focus on the big goals like that.
What you need to do is break it down into monthly bits and then break those down into weekly parts and then into daily activities.
This makes it easier to keep track of them and actually achieve them.
Okay, that’s enough for a Sharp Guy Guide. I feel like I was a bit too technical on this one.
Creating your online marketing strategy before hand will save you a lot of headache later down the road. If I could go back in time, that would be one of the first things I’ll do before jumping into business.
What Do You Think?
Was I too technical? Are there things you didn’t quite understand?
Leave your questions in the comments and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
Keeping it 500,
Author: Tomi Joshua
Tomi is a case.
A bit brash, at first blush. But ultimately, he means well. There are very few things he won’t say or do in the presence of tolerant company (especially when it could make for a good story later).
Tomi is a Doctor, writer, certified inbound marketer (Shout Out to HubSpot), Digital Hustler, and online business addict.
He is most likely to be found dancing to the beat of his own drum, even in accapella.