You may know a bit about marketing. You understand that businesses run commercials on TV because they want to get more customers, or that they send flyers in the mail to let people know about what they offer (and hopefully get more customers). But marketing may still seem a bit confusing and intimidating to you. That’s what big businesses do, not a small business like you, is what you might think.
The reality is that every business — no matter what size and no matter what you sell — needs a marketing plan. If you can’t do it yourself, you need to hire a company to create an online marketing plan for you. Here are just a few of the reasons why a good marketing plan is so important
Improves Your Brand Visibility
No one will be able to buy your products or contract your services if they don’t know that your business exists. If you have a physical location, you might get a little exposure from people who pass by. If you have an online-only business, which is an increasingly popular option, your customers will never find you on their own. There are literally billions of websites out there, and just stumbling upon yours would be like someone stumbling upon a diamond ring in the desert.
You need an online marketing plan whether you are operating exclusively online or have a physical location. These days, all of your customers are likely going to start searching for what they want online, even if they end up meeting or shopping with you in person. With a good marketing plan, you will get your name in front of your target audience. You can do this with social media marketing, backlinks, and search engine optimization, which helps you appear higher in search results. Your marketing plan should focus not just on putting your website in front of more people, but also on building your brand image so they know why they should shop with you.
Establish Your Brand Identity
These days, people are more concerned about a brand’s values when they decide where to spend their money. Issues like fair working conditions, employee pay, environmental practices, and the quality of the materials used to make the product are top concerns for a lot of consumers. Political affiliation and contributions are also scrutinized. You can establish your brand’s values and its identity through your online marketing.
Content marketing is a great way to establish brand identity. You can write about issues that are important to your company, as well as how they fit in with your business practices. For example, you might write about how you support environmentally friendly practices, so you use recyclable materials to make your products. The key is to include information that not only establishes your values but that also promotes your products and services.
Other ways to establish your brand identity include social media marketing, video, and even images. For example, Oreo showed its support for LGBT rights and marriage equality when it issued a picture of an Oreo with rainbow filling on its social media channels. You can keep your own marketing free of politics and hot-button issues, but you should consider taking a stance on such issues if they are important to your target audience.
Increase Leads and Sales
The ultimate goal of any customer outreach like advertising or marketing is going to be to get more sales. A good online marketing plan will help you increase sales, as well as leads (that can turn into sales with the right sales funnel). An online marketing plan decide to increase leads and sales, specifically, can include blog posts that promote the need for a product or service (even if the posts don’t name the product or service directly), social media marketing that shares exclusive discounts and other promotions, contests that give away products and services to create buzz and encourage repeat business, and sponsored reviews that share the good word about your product or service.
A good online marketing plan is essential to the success of any business, and it should include a multi-faceted approach design to get maximum results. It’s important that you either commit yourself to studying the best practices or that you hire a professional to create and implement this plan for you.