What you need to know about online marketing

Marketing has always been an essential part of every business, and with the importance of the Internet, online marketing has become the most important part of every business’s sustainability strategy.

Marketing is an important part of the sales process, but it’s not quite the same thing as selling

Probably the biggest reason I hear from entrepreneurs for either not having, or abandoning, their website and/or Facebook page is some variation of, “I wasn’t getting any sales from it” or, “all my sales come from word-of-mouth“. This saddens me because it means that the person making that statement set out on their journey without actually knowing where they were going.

Marketing is an engagement process that creates sales opportunities

The marketing process keeps your existing clients engaged with you, while also putting you in front of potential new clients.

Marketing online doesn’t mean that you can’t also sell online. Millions of businesses are doing very well selling online. It just means that you need to differentiate your marketing strategy from your sales strategy. In terms of the “sales funnel“, marketing brings people to the edge of the funnel, and encourages them to dive in. Selling occurs somewhere near the neck of the funnel, and once the sale is made, marketing encourages your clients to come back up to the mouth of the funnel again.

TIP! Online marketing can be easy, cheap, and effective, once you understand how to use it well.

You Must Have a Domain Name and Web Site

Every business needs a Web Site branded with a unique Domain Name. It doesn’t have to be big, or fancy, or complicated. But it has to be online. And people must be able to contact you through it. Even a simple one page “business card” site with an email form and your phone number can be sufficient for a business that doesn’t operate as an online shop.

People like to visit websites. Even if you get 100% of your business through word-of-mouth, people (including your existing customers!) are still searching you out online. Something as simple as a misplaced phone number can mean the difference between keeping and losing a sale or a client. Your website is “You Central”. A place for people to find you, learn about you, find your social network pages, find samples of your work, or read testimonials. Have one.

It is very important that your business has its own, unique Domain Name for its URL. Domain Names are so inexpensive that owning one should be a “no-brainer”. If your-business-name.com is not available, try using .ca or .us or .biz, or even one of the myriad of new domain suffixes.

You can shop for a Domain Name and get your new website built and hosted here at Ionos.com, or hire someone to do it all for you. But make sure you do it!

TIP! If yourname.com doesn’t lead to you, it probably leads to somebody else.

Social Media Marketing

Once you have a website you are going to want people to find it, visit it, and get in touch with you. You also want to make sure your potential customers learn about you and your business. That’s where social media come into play. But there are a lot of social media platforms out there, and you may only have limited time available for social media marketing. It is important to commit only the resources that you can consistently make available, and to concentrate only on the platform(s) with the highest ROI.

Finding and Using the Right Social Media Platforms

There are four questions that you need to answer:

  1. Who is my customer?
  2. Where do they spend time online?
  3. What would they like me to share with them?
  4. How much time am I prepared to set aside to manage my social media?

Who is my customer?

The best way to answer this question is to think about an “ideal customer”. If there was one person in the world for whom your product or service would be perfect, who would that person be? It can help to envision this person as a real human being – give them a name, an age, a gender, a lifestyle, a family, a job, interests, hobbies, etc.

Where does my customer spend time when they are online?

If your customer is a business person, or a professional, they are probably using LinkedIn. If your customers are individual consumers, they are almost certainly on Facebook. If they are a political junkies, you’ll probably find them on Twitter. If they collect and share favourite online resources, then Pinterest might be the place they hang out. And these days just about everyone is on Instagram! There are other platforms that are extremely popular with under 25s, like TikTok and SnapChat.

What would they like me to share with them?

Let’s start with what they probably do NOT want you to share with them! Do you like to be “sold to” 24/7? Neither do your customers. Obviously you are doing this because you want their business, but marketing is a process. Social media is an opportunity to build awareness, build relationships, and most importantly, build trust. Building relationships built on trust takes time.

So let’s go back to what we know. We know who our customer is, and we know where they spend time online. You have information and ideas that they might find interesting. Share them. Try to engage with people. Ask for feedback. Ask for help. Be real. Be sincere. Be useful. Most importantly, share things that your customers will actually like – not just what you want them to buy.

How much time do I have to manage my online marketing and social media?

Social media accounts require time and effort to be effective. The level of commitment that you can make to managing social media will depend on the size of your organization and the resources you can make available. A medium sized business, with a dozen or more employees, should consider dedicating one employee to daily social media management—even if only part time. A sole proprietor or self-employed professional will need to be disciplined and selective, in order to avoid burn out, or giving up completely.

TIP! Virtually all of your clients (past, present, and future) are already on social media. Your business should be where they are.

Online marketing is inexpensive and simple to manage when done in a way that fits your needs and resources

I practice what I preach so if you don’t have a web site already I will help you to:

  • Choose and acquire the best possible Domain Name
  • Set up a one page web site at your Domain, with a contact form, and links to your social media accounts
  • Set up an email account at your Domain
  • Make sure that you are the registered owner of your Domain Name
  • Refer you to a trusted web developer if an e-commerce site is needed

What does a One Page Website Look Like?
It looks like this… https://workitout.net
(online Solution Focused Brief Therapy treatment for post traumatic stress disorder)

Tip! No one can know everything about everything. It always makes sense to hire an expert.

Useful Web Resources: