There are many people who offer online marketing services. And many say they can help a small business develop their online marketing strategy. There are also many people who call themselves online marketing experts because they know how to:
- Build a WordPress website
- Implement search engine optimization (SEO)
- Develop a Google Ads or Facebook advertising campaign
- Send out an email marketing campaign
- Provide detailed Google Analytics reporting
All good stuff and important because digital marketing is complex. But do these experts know marketing? Or are they experts in executing a particular tactic?
Can they help you determine:
- Which online marketing strategies are the best options for your business?
- Who your target market is and how to best reach them?
- How your customers search for your products and services?
- What strategies (see diagram) are needed and which activities will be the most practical and successful given your time and resource constraints?
Anyone who calls themselves an online marketing expert must ask (and get the answers to) these five online marketing strategy questions before providing a proposal for services.
1. What is the vision for your business?
Every business needs a vision that helps drive the direction of all activities. Planning marketing activities that are not aligned with your vision is a waste of time. If your vision is to grow extensively, then your marketing activities needed to drive that growth is most likely different than if you are interested in maintaining a lifestyle business. Make sure you know this so you can plan your marketing accordingly.
2. What is the goal of your online marketing?
Understanding what you are trying to accomplish with your online marketing can guide the activities so that you achieve results. Do you want to:
- Drive quality inbound leads
- Build your mailing list
- Develop your expert reputation
- Cultivate relationships for the future
- Increase brand awareness
Without knowing the answers to this question, you can’t select the right activities to ensure you achieve your goal. Make sure the person implementing your online marketing knows the answer to this as well.
3. Who are your target customers and why should they do business with you?
Creating visibility for your business is a combination of understanding:
Selecting the right online marketing tools is only accomplished when you know the answers to those questions. Creating a Facebook Page for your business does you little good if your target market spends little time on Facebook. Is there some benefit of having a Facebook Page for your business? Yes, but it may not be the first thing you work on given your limited resources and time. You may be better off spending your time on creating a LinkedIn group that discusses the challenges your target market faces, creating visibility for you and a valuable forum for them. But the only way to determine the priorities of your action plan is to truly understand the needs of your ideal client.
4. How would your customers search to find you?
Understanding how your target market searches online for your products or services helps you develop your top keyword phrase list for all of your marketing efforts. If you don’t know what your top keyword phrase list is, make sure these marketing experts can help you develop your list. Then make sure they use that information to provide search engine optimization across your website and your other web properties.
5. What are your resources, both time and money?
There are many things we can do to market our businesses online. However, your action plan must be in line with your resources. You must know how much time you can spend personally verses what you will need to outsource in order to succeed. If your plan says that you need to blog 3 times a week and spend an hour a day on your social media activities, can you devote that time? Or do you have the budget to hire a resource to manage your online marketing? Marketing your business is a balancing act between working on your business and in your business.
Strategy before Tactics
If your small business needs to outsource your marketing activities to help you achieve their online visibility, make sure you choose your resources wisely. Executing tactics before you understand what you want to accomplish and how may cost your small business time, money and results. Many online marketing experts are great at execution for a specific tactical area, but lack the skills and experience to help you develop your online marketing strategy and plan. So before you sign that contract, ensure you have a plan first.