It’s common for people to experience frustration when marketing their business or nonprofit organization online. Time and time again, I’ve found the frustration stems from doing some key steps in the wrong order, or leaving steps out entirely.
Over the next few blog entries, we’ll take a look at the five steps for avoiding that feeling of failure when marketing online.
Step 0 – Build Your Plan
The first step is actually step zero, because it needs to happen before you actually do any of the online marketing activities. And that’s building your plan.
First, understand that your plan won’t be perfect immediately. It’s like flying to the moon. When a shuttle goes to the moon, it’s actually off course a huge portion of the time. All during that time, the astronauts are making minor course corrections to set them on what’s actually a new course, but to the same goal.
You have to have some sort of plan to get started, and to track your progress. You may even change your mind about your destination on your way there. But the only way to do that effectively is to have a plan.
Your goals should be big picture goals. Of course, everyone ultimately wants their online marketing to result in more cash coming in. But how will your online marketing actually do that?
You may want sales leads from your online marketing. Maybe you want purchases directly on your website. Maybe your goal is to get your audience to consider you a trusted advisor. Whatever the case, make sure your goal is specific.
Milestones are specific checkpoints along the way to those bigger goals. This is frequently where the concept of S.M.A.R.T. goals come in. That acronym refers to goals (or milestones) that are:
Your goal may be to get more leads. If that’s the case, your milestones may include things like 500-1000 fans on Facebook in a year, 300 newsletter subscribers in six months, or averaging 10 leads a month from your website by the end of the first year.
Of course, it can be challenging to know what goals are actually attainable. To a certain extent, you can use common sense. 1,000,000 likes on your organization’s page the first month you’re on Facebook is probably not realistic.
But if you have no idea what’s realistic, you can always check with someone who has done something similar to what you’re attempting. Or you can check with an online marketing expert.
Failing either of those, just shoot for the moon, and make course corrections along the way.
Set a Schedule
Finally, a true online marketing plan includes ongoing consistency. That means you’ll need to set a schedule and stick to it.
How often do you want to update your social media? How frequently do you want a blog article published on your website? How would you like your email newsletter to be sent out?
Unfortunately, there’s no simply answer to how often any of those should happen. It’s going to be different for industry to industry, and from company to company.
However, one thing you can look at is how often your target market is thinking about the services or products you provide. The more often they think about them, the more often you should market them.
However, consistency is much more important than the specific frequency. Pick your schedule and stick to it. It’s okay to make a change after a few months, but stick to whatever new schedule you set as well.
Once you’ve got an initial version of your plan, including goals, milestones, and a schedule, you’re ready to get started marketing online.