Online Marketing – Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse

A plethora of articles abound on the Web enumerating online marketing tactics. I strongly disagree with using any tactics until a strategy is in place.

Going one step further, a strategy without specific goals is pointless. What works for one business model or customer segment does not work for another. It’s too naïve and not really effective to put online marketing in a 101’s type of list.

Instead, let’s start with the basics. Ask yourself four key questions:

  1. Who is my ideal customer? If you are like most small business owners, your typical customer will buy from your physical store or your website only when you are in geographic proximity. That’s what is proven by empirical evidence compiled from collective online behavior of American consumers. While about 80% of buyers research online, they buy within 50 miles of their residence. That gives immense power to the local business owner. There’s an intrinsic threat though that your nearby competitor has a chance usurp your established territory if your business does not have an effective, engaging presence online such as a website from Web Start Today. All our websites include designs, images and content specific to your industry and are ready to engage both prospects and search engines. You can build your own professional website quickly and affordably using the website builder from Web Start Today.
  2. Where is my customer looking when trying to find vendors like I am? Whoever said that the human species has not evolved since the end of the Stone Age was wrong. The advent of the Internet era has ushered in fundamental changes in how humans live, forage for food and finish a day’s work. The age-old habit of leafing through printed yellow pages has given way to visiting online yellow pages. There are plenty of online yellow pages directories now serving niche cities or specific professional segments. Put your money where your customer is. Go for listing your business in as many local directories (online yellow pages) as possible.
  3. What does my ideal customer value the most when making a “buy” decision? Your ideal customer values trust, authority, thought leadership and a friendly, non-intrusive marketing approach from vendors. So how does a small business website cover all the bases? It’s easier than you think. All you need to do is make sure:

    • Your website looks good with a balance of content and industry-relevant images.
    • It is liked by enough genuine people on social media sites like Facebook or Google+.
    • It is referenced from other authoritative websites such as well-respected bloggers or press releases.
    • You feature in as many types of online places as available – shopping comparison sites, discount coupon sites, local directories, video sharing sites, blogs, social bookmarking sites and so forth.
    It’s easier than you thought. Isn’t it?
  4. What is my competition doing online? Tracking competition is a specialist’s job. As soon as you have delivered on your commitment to adding useful content on your website and made your business available via a good number of online directories, it’s time to seek outside help. Hire a good search engine optimization professional to map your competition’s footprint. And then simply learn where else to bolster your online presence. Don’t stop at doing it once. Review and repeat – each month.

To sum up, the most important thing you can do to ensure success is to draw up your battle plan before embarking on a campaign. Build your strategy by viewing your battlefield through the perspective of the above four questions. Then, identify the tactics to cover your bases. That’s it. You’re set for online success.


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