“By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
And though he never lived to see the internet, his words very much apply to digital marketing. If you don’t start with a solid plan, you’re going to waste time, money, make mistakes and end up getting nowhere.
Because success in marketing is predicated on two things:
- Understanding your market: the people and businesses that buy from you.
- Offering your market a product they want.
When you know your market, you can offer a product that is a perfect solution to their problems, wants, and needs. That way all you need to do to get the sale is to put a right offer in front of the right market. That’s it!
This sounds easier than having a mediocre product and trying to use manipulative and dodgy sales tactics to persuade people, who don’t need or want it, to buy it – right?
That’s why the first step to successful marketing is…
Understanding what drives consumers
Your target audience – the people you’re selling to – needs a reason to buy what you’ve got. It’s critical you understand what drives them. That means figuring out their:
- Pain Points. What problems do your clients have? Why do these things bother them – when, where and why do they occur? Why are your clients unable to deal with their pain points and how can you help them? What end result do they want to get after a transaction with you?
- Wants. What do your clients want? Is it status, money, moral satisfaction, positive emotions, convenience? What are their desires? How is your product to fulfill those desires?
- Needs. What needs does your target audience have? Are they aware of them? How can your product meet those needs – or simplify the way current needs are met? (e.g. social networks simplify the way our need for interaction and belonging is met).
These concepts may take some time to grasp if you’ve never studied marketing before. That’s okay. Just remember this key takeaway: People do not buy what they need, they buy what they want and as a marketer, your job is to sell your customers what they WANT and then deliver them what they NEED.
One thing you can do is to look at large, successful brands and products and consider why people buy them.
For example, Starbucks is a coffee company… But they charge significantly more than other mass-market cafes. How do they do it? By understanding that people want more than coffee; they want variety, feeling they get when they buy a latte and walk out with a Starbucks cup, a cozy atmosphere, a place to meet, and superior personal service. Understanding these wants is what sets Starbucks apart.
To get a crystal-clear understanding of your target audience, try your hand at…
Creating a Customer Avatar
The internet is a personal experience. The people who see and respond to your digital marketing efforts use personal computers, personal tablets and personal mobile phones. As far as they’re concerned, you’re communicating with each and every one of them directly.
Of course, that’s not really the case; you’re reaching hundreds, thousands or even millions of people – and all of them are different. So what can you do to understand your target market is to create customer avatars: hypothetical representations of your “typical” or “ideal” customer. Depending on your product range, you may need one customer avatar or a few. What matters is, your customer avatar(s) need to be thorough and include…
- Pain points
- Previous experiences
These details are very important. The more accurately they represent your target audience, the better your marketing campaign is going to perform.
Don’t expect to get things right the first time and what is great with online advertising tools is – you can always adjust. Your customer avatars will change and evolve constantly, as you get to know your market more and develop deeper relationships with your customers.
Doing Market Research
In the past, doing market research on your target audience meant one of two things:
- Using outdated research from books, journals and studies.
- Paying boatloads to have research done for you.
Fortunately, the internet gives you multiple ways to capitalize on the market research your competitors have done – and ride the proverbial coat tails of market leaders’ 6, 7 and 8-figure budgets.
Here’s how you do it.
There are several tools available to “spy” on your competitors and other companies’ marketing campaigns.
SimilarWeb is a service that tracks website’s traffic, ads and visitors’ demographics. Advanced metrics are a paid feature – but you can also get a lot of information for free.
Namely, you can use SimilarWeb to see who exactly your competitors are targeting… What ads they’re running… And what kind of visitors they’re getting on their website(s).
And if your competition is doing well, you can bet that copying their target audience’s parameters into your customer avatar will give you a head start with marketing to the same market!
Adbeat vs What Runs Where
These two websites offer advanced metrics on the ads your competitors are running. If your competitors are successful, you can assume their ads are targeting the right people – and use the information learned from their experience in your customer avatars.
Facebook Page & Forums
Going to a business’s Facebook page will give you a good idea of who their customers are. Just look through the comments people leave and check out their profiles; you’ll get detailed demographic and geographic information in minutes. As above, seeing what your successful competitors are doing will let you know who your market’s perfect customers are – and help you build strong avatars.
Alternatively, you can go and get acquainted with your prospects yourself. E-mail people already on your list; participate in forum discussions and Facebook groups; read reviews Amazon, Yelp, and other similar websites, leave comments on blog posts. Listen to the discussions you see carefully and use the information in them to build your customer avatar(s).
Once you understand your customers by making as many avatars as are necessary – 1, 2 or 3 are enough in most cases – you can start…
Choosing Your Market Position
Like I said earlier, the best kind of digital marketing isn’t about hard-selling or advertising aggressively.
Instead, it’s all about positioning your product as a perfect solution to the market’s problems, needs, wants and pains. When you do this part just right, the only thing you need to do then is to get your offer in front of people who will benefit from it and they’ll be excited to buy from you without being sold to.
The first step towards creating this kind of dynamic is the customer avatar – or avatars.
The second step is creating an appealing business offer and story in a way that makes people eager and excited to buy from you.
Here are some questions that will help you get clear on this:
- How do people need to perceive your product, brand, and business in order to WANT to buy from you without a second thought?
- What are your successful competitors doing? What are their positioning and unique selling proposition in the marketplace?
- What are your business’s, product’s or service’s strengths and uniqueness – and how can you use them to help your customers solve their problems, wants and needs?
But the best and ultimate question is this: what can you offer that people are already looking for?
Once you get clear on this and figure out what your business’s perfect positioning is, it’s time for the last 2 steps of your digital marketing plan.
Setting Effective Goals
Your online marketing will be most effective if you set goals first, then find the strategies, tactics, and actions that get you to that goal. Here are 3 things you should keep in mind when choosing goals:
- Your market’s needs, wants and pains.
- Your business’s market positioning.
- Your sales and profit.
A great goal is one that helps you serve your target audience; is clear in terms of positioning; helps you make more money. It should also be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Based.
Once you’ve got effective goals, you’ve got a plan; there’s just one last thing to do…
Crafting a Story
How do you react when you get an email from a Nigerian prince?
If you’re like most people, you delete the email immediately. It probably comes from a scammer – and nobody likes giving money to someone untrustworthy.
This works both ways.
People enjoy doing business with those they like and believe in. If you can get people to have those positive feelings for your brand and offer, they’ll buy from you. That’s why it’s important to have a strong business story.
While thinking about yours isn’t necessarily part of the planning process, it should guide your planning efforts – and be congruent with them.
That way, you’ll have a consistent story in everything your business does: your ads, website, customer service, packaging, service, and offer – building the trust you have with your prospects every step of the way.
At this point, you’re ready to start getting clients online. You just need to plan 2 more things before you get started.
The 2 Things You Need To Get Started Marketing Your Business Online
The first thing you need is a website. It doesn’t have to be big or complicated; there are many platforms that help you get a site up and running in under a day. What matters is that your website does two of the following:
- Builds your lead list by getting prospects’ contact information.
- Sells your product for an immediate profit OR gets people to buy your product in person.
That might seem intimidating if you’re new to online marketing – but your website only needs few things to do all these effectively. Namely, you need…
- Your business’s name
- Description of what you do or sell, few images or photos
- An order form or an e-mail opt in form or your contact information so a customer can reach out for more info
That’s it. That’s all it takes to make a website!
Now, this section of the guide is all about planning – so we’re not actually going to get started building a website in this chapter.
We will, however, learn about the DIY website builders you’ll be choosing from in the future – because this is an important decision, and the earlier you do your research, the better.
WordPress is the platform used to run 23% of the entire internet, including websites like:
- The New Yorker
Despite being so popular, WordPress is dead simple to use. Setting it up takes minutes – and most hosts have one-click WP installation options that help you get your WordPress site up easily.
There are also plenty of online tutorials on using WordPress, made by a community of 250,000+ active members and 900+ meetup groups that span over 60 countries and 500 cities.
WordPress sites are also very versatile. The platform was initially made for blogging – but today, it can run anything, from eCommerce to professional news sites and its’ 47,453 plugins will be useful once you decide to take your business to the next level.
The final advantage of this platform is design. There are thousands of pre-programmed themes ready for you to use and customize, and many of them are free. In just 2014, the WordPress.org saw over 120 million theme downloads – an astounding number.
All in all, WordPress is a great choice for beginners and advanced users – and will work great for marketing purposes.
The only caveat is that WP is not a complete drag-and-drop solution… And has a learning curve of several hours to days. Fortunately, there is a simpler way to get a basic website out there, with platforms like…
- ClickFunnels and/or LeadPages
ClickFunnels and LeadPages are two platforms that will allow you to make beautiful e-mail opt-in pages, which are the first thing you need on your website. They are not free but do offer a free trial.
The great thing about both of these platforms is that they have WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editors, where you can make changes to your website in real-time and see what it looks like right away.
Their other advantage is that they come with hundreds of templates, meaning you can select one, customize it in seconds and have your site ready within the space of an hour.
Finally, both platforms are easy to integrate with e-mail and payment services. That means you can quickly start making sales with them, even if you’re a complete beginner.
The only thing you might need to do, if you’re very new to the internet, is watch about 30 minutes of videos. That’s enough to master ClickFunnels and LeadPages basics.
The problem with LeadPages and ClickFunnels is that they’re both inferior to WordPress when it comes to making large, advanced sites – and publishing content. This is why most people actually combine WordPress with a platform like LP or CF in the long run.
There is also a large difference between WordpPress, CF and LP at a more advanced level – and we’ll examine what it is in the next chapter. For now, you can sign up for the free trials offered by either company – just don’t commit to anything before reading the next chapter!
What Comes Next?
Once you set up your website – which you’ll soon learn how to do, down to the exact list and sequence of pages you need to sell your product or service – you will need to people to visit it and see what you have to offer…
You’ll want to drive traffic to it.
But how do you do that?
Depending on which guru you turn to look for answers, the single best way to get traffic is…
- Targeted advertising
- Guest blogging
- Making videos
- Affiliate marketing
But the truth is, there’s no one way to get visitors to your website. What you want to do is understand each and every traffic source, focusing on the ones that work best for you.
After all, even the most professionally built and beautiful website in the world won’t make a single sale for you if nobody visits it.
The same applies to getting visitors who aren’t interested in buying. You can have a great product, a magnetic sales pitch, a perfectly crafted website…
But unless you’re using your resources to get offers in front of the right people profitably, you’re treading water. You can huff and puff all day long, but until you understand online marketing and use it correctly, you won’t get anything out of the time and money you invest into it.
Fortunately for you, you’re about to learn all about traffic sources – as well as reaching your dream customers for pennies on the dollar, and turning your ad spend into instant profit.
Hope you’re as excited as I am – because now that we’ve got the planning section out of the way, it’s time for some action!