Business Web Marketing 101: From Concept to Web Presence Creation

Whether you have an existing business or you are planning to start a new business, the business of web marketing should be high on your list of priorities. The Internet as we know it is vast, ubiquitous and, thanks to mobile computing, it’s in everyone’s pockets. If your business isn’t marketing its services on the web, you are likely losing out on serious revenue. The time to market your business online is now. The following is a short checklist that will help you get your business Internet marketing presence up and running quickly.

Market Research

Without the proper market research, even the most well-thought out business web marketing strategy will likely fail. A business must know its audience through and through and, furthermore, there must be a demand for the brand or the products and services that brand promotes. In the past, the business of marketing was much more difficult. To conduct the proper search, you would have to hire focus groups and design polls in order to put a finger on the pulse of your future prospects. Today, we have social media which makes the entire business of web marketing much easier.

Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and popular online forums are great ways to get into the minds and aspirations of your prospects and customers. The business of web marketing requires you to get to know the men and women you will be marketing to. What better way to get to know your prospects and customers than by monitoring their conversations or even engaging them directly?

Thanks to the tools most people use to keep in contact with friends, family and (good for us) their favorite businesses, products and services, we now have a window into the lives of the very people we will be marketing to. What a time to be alive as a business-to-business or business-to-consumer Internet marketer.

Other Research

To effectively market a web presence online, you must conduct the proper keyword research. Knowing which keywords to use in your marketing materials will help you rank higher in the search engines thanks to search engine optimization (SEO). The proper keywords will also be used in future PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns, which are essential for maximizing your business web marketing efforts.

Google AdWords is one of the most widely used PPC platforms and there is a built in keyword research tool that is free to use. Business web marketing experts from all over the world use this tool to find those keywords that are highly searched for, but that offer the least amount of competition. By competition, we are referring to websites and other online materials that may be using those same keywords in an attempt to garner attention from the search engines through SEO.

Competitor Research

Notice how we haven’t even begun to discuss a website or even graphics, which is typically where the beginner wants to begin. Right now we are merely discussing concepts, ideas and the concepts and ideas that your customers will go gaga for. This requires extensive research, both market and keyword, but it also requires you to research your direct competitors.

When you find the keywords that you plan to use in your business web marketing campaigns, start looking those keyword terms up using Google or similar search engine. Start researching the first few listings that each term yields. These are the websites and pages created by your direct competition. It is recommended that you take what works from these sites and make them better. Now you are ready to market your small business with a website and other materials.

Web Design and Development

Many people think that the business of marketing relies mostly on sight. It’s the images that count, a business-to-business Internet marketing beginner might say. That online marketer might have a point to a degree. The design of your site does matter, as do the colors. Certain colors have been known to elicit certain responses in people and if your website looks like trash, most people aren’t going to bother to stick around.

That being said, your business web marketing presence does not need to be flashy or laden with the best videogame-like graphics. Your website should be simple, pleasing to the eye and the entire presence should mesh together into one cohesive element.

If you are not artistic or if you don’t know PHP from HTML, it’s recommended that you hire someone to do this part for you. While there are many do-it-yourself open source web design platforms online, if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s usually going to show. Don’t skimp on the design. Let the experts do it for you and wow your audience with a design that flows with your overall message.

Content

A business web marketing site should be filled with content that is useful, well-produced and to-the-point. Nobody wants to read a website filled with a lot of fluff, nor does anyone want to read one that is filled with grammar and spelling mistakes. Keep your information short and sweet, go for shorter paragraphs as opposed to longer ones and always have a call-to-action.

State Your Goals

In the business of marketing online, you should always write down and memorize your goals beforehand. With so much information out there and so many techniques to choose from, it’s easy to get sidetracked. When you know where you’re going, you’ll be more likely to get there.

The goal of your website may be to garner more leads, sell a product or service or it may be a squeeze page designed to capture valuable information from your online visitors. Whatever the case, your business web marketing presence should always have a clear call-to-action so that your audience and web visitors always know what to do.

Naked Web Marketing Part 2

The web shares

This should be a major consideration for web marketing, but instead it is ignored. A web marketer will suggest that we use Facebook, Twitter or Linked-in, among other social media because they all share. And that means that we forget about sharing through our own web site and we end up giving our best content away. And for what?

The time focus for Facebook is short. Even shorter for Twitter. Our best content should be shared from our own site first because it makes our web site stronger. Then we can feed bits to social media to attract attention. Attention from social media sites is very short lived and has to be constantly repeated, but on our own site the same information builds and attracts, and then builds and attracts even more.

If that doesn’t hit you between the eyes then you are not getting the significance of sharing. It is not just social media that can use this powerful aspect of web marketing and we would be wise not to put control of our most attractive content in the hands of social media. They can use or misuse it all however they please.

Web marketers don’t seem to get it

Web designers and web marketers are pretty much sold on letting trendy social media control your web marketing. They can make money by running your social media campaign, which may be quite alright if they also helped you share directly from your own web site.

Sharing is important for long term growth and it can be accomplished over time. Don’t rush or panic. The truth is that all your, so-called, competitors are not sharing and are not growing. Time is something you have a lot of, but there’s no time like the present for getting started. And you are probably wondering just what your business has to share with its market.

A brief list of the more important web attributes:

• No time or space limitations on web marketing

• The Internet swallowed all other media and makes them adapt to the web

• The web is a virtual reality – having many more nodes plugged in

• You don’t find your market – they find you

No time or space:

As soon as you start talking about your market’s biggest problem – You know, the one you solve – then you have all the time and space you could ever want. Your market likes that, it attracts them and it interests them. Keep going, talk about other problems they have so as to include an ever wider market.

Swallowed all other media:

The web is not like any other media. It can be your telephone, but it works differently. It can be your newspaper, but it works differently. It can even advertise and use push marketing, but most of the benefits come from using pull marketing. In fact, pull marketing is second nature to the web and has a much greater reach than trying to push.

The web is a virtual reality:

A virtual reality is no less real than a physical (material) reality, it’s just that a virtual reality has many more social, business and institutional connections all plugged in and ready to connect.

Your market finds you:

Your web market is anonymous. It is your web site that has to have attractive content in order to stand out from other sites. Web designers like to think their awesome designs attract but search engines don’t pay attention to graphics. Web marketers like to think their advertising attracts but web users (you and me included) try to ignore ads.

The biggest attraction for our market is when we share information about solving their problem. They didn’t come to our web site to see pretty web designs or to see and read our ads – they came thinking we could help them.

Attracting your market

Helping your market by sharing your information does not mean giving away the recipe to your secret sauce. Your competitors may want the secret but your market could care less. They are not going to mix up a batch of your secret sauce, instead they are going to want you to implement your secrets and pay you for doing that.

You will have many ways your secret sauce can be used and your web site can list them and hold them all. All of the problems your secret sauce has solved can be written up and go on the web. As you share all the problems and solutions you can remember you will be building a destination web site while other business owners are chasing after a market they can’t see or touch.

The Critical Elements of a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is a critical element for communicating and discussing the expectations and responsibilities of all the key decision makers of a company. This is especially true for someone who is head of marketing or responsible for the firm’s marketing strategy. The plan should be written down so that everyone is able to look at and examine it. This is a key area of communicating how the marketing plan will affect the company in terms of its growth and focus on selling the product.

The elements of a plan will vary but should have some critical elements. More than anything the plan should answer the simple questions such as: What? Who? When? and Where? This might seem too simplistic, but when crafting your marketing plan, these are the main questions that should be consider that are the critical elements to be included in it. For example, a marketing plan for a airline company should list the products to be sold, who will be responsible for areas of the marketing strategy, and what type of people should the marketing strategy focus on.

When you get started, keep in mind that a plan is produced on a yearly basis. It will appear different in regards to when it is produced, what it does contain, and the overall components of it. Regardless, of how different it looks, the critical elements should not be overlooked. These critical elements include the an overview of the current situation and what are the expectations of the future, the market and what issues can affect the product, and the strategy that the company is currently following or hoping to adopt in the future. So regardless of how a company breaks these down or outlines these elements, they should be included in the plan.

The Overview

First of all, the overview. The person in charge of marketing should spend some time writing as much as possible about the current company and product overview. It can discuss what the issues for the coming year might be and what challenges the company faced previously while trying to get or hold onto its share of the market. This is a critical area, because it gives the general information, but it is also a summary of what the rest of the market plan is going to discuss. A manager should be able to read this area and get the complete gist of the market plan without any problems.

The Current Market and Promotion Strategy

These two topics are critical to the marketing plan. The analysis written here can show how the market has been in the past and what is expected in the future. The head of marketing should spend a considerable amount of time discussing the competitors and how they affected and will affect sales. However, the largest emphasis should be what the company is hoping to do to promote the product that it currently has. This should mean discussing detail the packaging, branding, and shipping of the product. This is key to have a worthwhile marketing plan.

Write Annual Marketing Plan in 90 Minutes

Ideally, marketing planning is like career or job planning. The development of the annual marketing strategy, whether it is for an internet/ecommerce business or offline business, should be done at the end of the year. It should be based on market research. This applies to small as well as corporate businesses and not for profit organizations.

How To Write An Annual Marketing Plan

This guide to an annual marketing plan shows what needs to be done, how to do it and pitfalls to look out for. This marketing plan should ideally support and complement business plan.

An annual marketing plan ideally should have the following elements (basics of marketing):

  • Mission statement
  • Description of your niche markets
  • Detailed description of your products or services
  • List of your closest competitors
  • Marketing goals
  • Marketing calendar with monthly and weekly list of marketing activities to be completed
  • Marketing mix – advertising, public relations, media, corporate communications, promotions, events etc
  • Description of how the marketing campaigns will be monitored and measured

When you have finished doing everything suggested in this easy How-To marketing tutorial, you will have a blueprint of your marketing efforts. It will give you a lot of clarity, especially when you are working in a team. Make sure you revisit the plan every year, as well as during the year.

Now, whether you are selling watches or digital products, it is important to watch your spend to make sure that your marketing ROI (return on investment) is on track.

But Why Should You Plan?

It gives you a lot of clarity of purpose

You can control your expenses

When you are working in a team, or with external agencies or suppliers, you everyone involved knows who-does-what

You can take corrective action if the marketing plan is not progressing as desired

Are You Ready To Begin?

Just answer the following questions, and you will have the blueprint of your marketing plan in less than 90 minutes:

  • Which of my marketing and selling activities brought the most business for me last year? Was it public relations, events and conferences, social media, print advertising, Google Adwords, SEO marketing and so on
  • What mistakes did I make that I should avoid this year?
  • What worked well, but I can improve on this year?
  • What can I learn from my successful campaigns last year?
  • What can I learn from my campaign that did not perform well last year?
  • What is my target market like this year? Which factors of my market changed – geography, demography, income, habits, culture etc.
  • Has my competition changed? How?
  • If my target market or competition has changed, what do I need to do to adopt to that change?
  • Now that I know my target market, and I know what worked last year, which marketing channels will I use this year?
  • How much am I willing to spend this year? What’s my marketing budget? How do i intend to spend it?
  • How will I monitor my campaign?

Marketing Calendar

Now that we have an overview, break this strategy down into monthly marketing plan. Chart out monthly and if required weekly activities.

Identify key events that are likely to influence your marketing calendar. Is there an industry event or international trade show coming up? Are there local elections? Is there a major sporting event?

Make sure you are realistic in your marketing strategies and in your marketing plan. Try to spell out as many details as possible. Leave some scope for contingencies.

Now that you have the blue print, don’t forget the key point – action. Act on your plan, re-visit it often and change your course if required.

Your marketing plan is just that – a plan. Nothing is set in stone. If marketing environment changes be prepared to change.

Create a Powerful Marketing Plan For Your Small Business

The marketing planning process need not be complex – it is simply a logical approach to looking at your business and its environment, deciding on your marketing objectives are and then deciding the marketing programs that need to be created to ensure that those objectives are met.

Marketing has been given many different definitions. It is sometimes confused with promotion – or even sales. It is neither. Marketing is concerned with the management of the ‘marketing mix,’ in other words the following: (sometimes referred to as the 4 Ps)

  • Price – how much you are selling the product or service for
  • Product (or service) – what you are designing, developing, manufacturing, providing and selling
  • Place (or channel strategy) – which channels you are using to sell your product or services (e.g. are you selling direct to customers over the Internet or are you selling through a retailer or other third party)
  • Promotion – what methods are you using to communicate what it is that you do to your market. This includes packaging, sales, brochures, exhibitions, advertising, direct mail, Internet marketing etc

Marketing planning is a creative process based on the solid analysis of your business and its environment. It also requires you to think about the future. We don’t know what is going to happen in the ‘invisible’ future – but there are things in the ‘visible’ future that we can take account of.

The Marketing Audit

Before developing a marketing plan, the first step is the marketing audit. In its simplest terms this means reviewing the marketing that you have done up until now to determine how effective it has been – preferably in quantitative terms. This information will give you practical guidance as to where to place your valuable resources in the future.

The SWOT Analysis

The first step in the process is to do a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats or SWOT analysis. The SWOT analysis, is an easy to remember and simple process. There are two main aspects of the SWOT – the inward looking, i.e. what are the strengths and weaknesses of your business, and the outward looking, i.e. what are the opportunities and threats coming from outside your business.

Strengths might include company reputation, quality of employees, marketing skills, on-line presence, social media footprint. Threats might include new legislation or regulations, a new competitor, cost of fuel or raw materials

The analysis is best done by a group of people.The ‘brainstorming’ technique is useful. Every idea is written down – preferably where everyone in the group can see it, WITHOUT editing. No matter how seemingly stupid the idea, write it down. You can always go back and edit after the brainstorming session is over. Brainstorming techniques can be applied to all of the creative and analytical phases of the marketing planning process.

The PEST Analysis

Another useful technique when preparing marketing plans is the ‘PEST’ analysis. PEST is an acronym for:

  • Political and Legal
  • Economic and demographic
  • Social and cultural
  • Technology

And how each of these factors may affect your business. It is another way to help you think about the environment in which your business operates. It may be helpful for you to use this analysis when working on the opportunities and threats part of the SWOT analysis. For example, a future legal change may result in you having to pay greater costs in order to meet new regulations. Demographic changes may result in a population shift to your part of the country. This may result in more customers and hence, potentially more business.

Setting marketing objectives

Before embarking on a journey to is usually a good idea to have some idea of where you are heading. The same is true for marketing planning. Before setting marketing objectives you need to know the overall objectives for your business. This could be a certain level of profitability or volume of sales. To meet this business objective will involve a number of different activities within you business including: production, customer service, finance, and marketing.

Marketing objectives are what you are aiming to achieve through the marketing plan in order to meet the overall business objectives. Marketing objectives fall into four categories as follows:

  • Existing products or services in existing markets (penetration)
  • New products or services in existing markets (product development)
  • Existing products or services in new markets (market extension)
  • New products and services in new markets (diversification)

Marketing objectives should always be quantifiable, for example, sell a certain amount of product to existing customers (market penetration) or achieve a certain market share in a new market (market extension).

The Product or Service Lifecycle

All products have, what is called in ‘marketing speak’, a product or service lifecycle. The lifecycle describes the natural process by which a new product is introduced, is gradually accepted, sells well for a while and is then gradually superseded before, potentially, being phased out.

The product life cycle is a useful concept to consider when reviewing your product or service set (product/service portfolio). It is important to consider where a product is on the lifecycle in order to set marketing objectives and appropriate marketing programs. For example, if a product is in the introduction phase it may be appropriate to spend more on promotion than for a product in decline.

Set marketing strategies

Marketing objectives are concerned with what you would like to achieve, marketing strategies are how you are going to try and achieve these objectives.

Having set the strategies, individual marketing tactics will be created in the form of specific marketing programs. The difference between the marketing strategy and marketing tactics can be illustrated as follows. A valid marketing strategy would be to create an exhibition program in a new market. The tactic associated with this strategy would be a specific exhibition, the dates, logistics, size of trade show booth, and promotional events surrounding the exhibition.

The following are some of your marketing strategy options:

Price

When you first think about pricing your first inclination may be to apply a simple mechanism which adds a percentage to the cost of producing the product or providing the service, this is known as cost-plus pricing. This may be the best way of pricing your product, but you must also think about premium pricing. An expensive product may create an idea of prestige or luxury, irrespective of how much it cost to create the product. Branded perfumes and designer clothing labels fall into this category.

Other factors you will likely taken into account are the cost of competitor products and services together with the distribution costs that may need to be built into your pricing (for example, the amount you will need to pay your distributor).

Product

An area of enormous importance to be considered when you look at your products is the concept of the product and service portfolio. A portfolio implies that you are marketing more than one product or service. In actual fact, even if you only have one product, you will likely have at least one service offering connected to that product. In developing the tactical aspect of your marketing plan your need to analyze each product in turn.

Portfolio management involves managing the portfolio such that there is a balance between cash generated and cash required. It is important to visualize where products are likely to be in the future and how you can achieve those positions. For example, a new, but highly promising product has a low market share, but a high market growth rate.

Place

The channel strategy is your plan as to how you are going to get you product or service to market. It’s likely that you have already made some plans here. A business needs to find new and innovative ways in which you can gain the widest market coverage at the lowest cost. Options may include:

  • Setting up a distributor network
  • Finding ‘business partners’
  • Selling directly over the Internet
  • Creating retail outlets
  • Developing export markets
  • Find alliance partners
  • User new channels to market
  • Change delivery options

Promotion

Promotion is a highly creative process. You never really know which promotional method is going to be the most effective until you try it. The answer is to try different promotional methods and to measure and test each one’s effectiveness.

  • Marketers have the many methods at their disposal, including:
  • Internet marketing (both ‘organic’ Web site search engine positioning and PPC (Pay-per-click) Web advertising)
  • Social media marketing (e.g using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc)
  • E-mail marketing
  • Advertising (also known as ‘above the line expenditure.’)
  • Merchandizing
  • Sales – personal selling
  • Trade shows and exhibitions
  • Media relations (public relations – PR)
  • Direct mail
  • Network marketing
  • Branding

Conclusion

A marketing plan is not an end in itself, rather, it represents a process of examining and rethinking your business from a marketing perspective. By thinking through the issues you should get a greater appreciation of all the different marketing options as well as a few new ideas about things to try in your business.