Archive for

How to Write an Online Marketing Plan

Today’s businesses are faced with endless options for executing an
online marketing campaign. Business owners have to place a considerable
amount of time and effort to ensure their marketing campaign doesn’t
result in over inflated budgets and nonperforming strategies. The
online arena of marketing, unlike other media outlets, have tons of
cheap and quick marketing tools that could tempt business owners on a
shoe-string to use untested strategies without a formal plan. The
seemingly low-cost options could eventually lead to unexpected budget
problems.

The best way is to incorporate a specialized plan into a traditional
marketing plan. This is called an online or Internet marketing plan.
Like a typical marketing plan, an online marketing plan is meant to
formalize a business owner’s planned efforts of positioning his product
or service in a specific business environment. In addition, an online
marketing plan may include estimated marketing costs and how various
marketing tools that will be used. Unlike a traditional marketing plan,
an online marketing plan specifically deals with the unique problems of
the Internet and the various marketing methods available online. An
Internet marketing plan can exist within a complete marketing plan.

Below are key sections to include in your online marketing plan.
Although this covers most important sections, you may find as you grow,
you need to include additional sections.

  • Objective – What is your site meant to accomplish? You can have several objectives but for the sake of simplicity try narrowing your list and make sure you prioritize and plan accordingly.
  • Strategy – What do customers need to know before purchasing? What sort of features will include on your site to exceed visitors’ expectations?
  • Pricing Policy – Be sure to conduct solid research regarding your product pricing. Compare to other sites that offer similar products or services. Include details regarding shipping and handling. Be sure to state how you derived at your final price.
  • Submissions/Linking – What sites will you link to? How will you manage an affiliate program? How will you maintain your listing on top search engines? Will you submit free versions or products to community web sites for increased visibility? List all pertinent information, including e-mail and web addresses of your link network.
  • Reports – How will your track your ad performance and profile your customers? List the type of technology you will use and exactly what information it collects. You can also describe how this information will impact future decisions.
  • Ordering – What system will you use to allow for ordering on your site? Describe the process and the benefits of using the system you’ve chosen. Include any links to any companies that facilitates your ability to process orders such as merchant account providers and banks.
  • Security – What security system will you use to protect your customers’ information? Include what statement you will place on your site to notify your customers of your security precautions.
  • Capture Contact Information – How will you obtain contact information from people visiting you site? Include any incentives you will offer to persuade people to log on to your site.
  • Content – What useful information can you provide your visitors to ensure their return? List any sources for free articles, downloads you’ll provide, links, and other information.
  • Maintenance – Avoid making superfluous changes. Improve your site by listening to your visitors and reviewing sites statistics. List what technology you have in place to facilitate basic changes.
  • Action Items – List all the steps you must take in order to execute your online marketing plan.

The key to a successful online marketing plan is consistency coupled
with an organized and targeted plan. Evaluating your online marketing
strategies now will save you time and money in the long run. Once you
have everything written out use the action item section to execute you
plan over an established period of time for maximum results.

Business Suicide Strategy Number 15 – Not Developing a Marketing Plan Before the New Year Starts

For most businesses this time of year is slow unless you are in retail sales. If you are a small business owner this is the time to evaluate your marketing plan. Today’s economy is forcing businesses worldwide to re-examine their marketing campaigns.

Instead of a marketing plan I prefer to call it a ‘Business Optimization Action Plan’ that shows what marketing strategies and campaigns you’ll be using and when you’ll be activating them. I recommend small business owners do a quarterly business marketing plan.

Marketing without a plan is like sailing a ship without a rudder – you never know where you’re going to end up – and you might even capsize! You’ll move from side to side and rarely forward. You should record all the results and measure the effectiveness of each marketing campaign.

Your Action Plan is the tool you should use to drive your business forward. What you don’t want is a 40 page marketing plan that gets read once and then collects dust on your shelf. Having an action plan that guides you every week to your end game is so important.

As obvious as this sounds, very few business owners even have a business plan in place, never mind a sales and marketing Action Plan. One of my roles as a marketing consultant is to set a realistic and attainable Action Plan with a business owner. An action plan should guide you every week to your end game which is vital to your success.

I like to “chunk-size” projects: that is to put them into bite size manageable goals. If the plan is not put into bite size pieces that fit into an overall marketing plan then it becomes overwhelming. This is where I see businesses breakdown.

Not only must a business owner have a marketing plan but the business owner should have an exit strategy for the business. Without an action plan driving the business forward this is impossible. A majority of small business owners have no exit plan. You must know what an exit looks like for you. Are you going to sell, float, hand down to family, or retain your shares and bring in a new management team?

Whatever your exit plan is, the ideal is to get there as soon as possible. And whether you like it or not, the success of your business is dependent on the success of your sales and marketing teams. Without a clear focus which includes a Business Optimization Plan, this just isn’t possible. So don’t make the mistake to think these things aren’t important – they are.

Affiliate Marketing – 7 Characteristics of Effective Affiliate Marketing Plans

The following seven characteristics are what I have found to be the qualities of an effective affiliate marketing plan – effective in the sense that it is easy for you to put it into practice.

1. An overview

It’s important that you know where you are headed with the affiliate marketing plan. This information is needed so that you can make the right decisions along the way. You have to understand what the marketing approach is hoping to achieve. The overview can be provided by a series of mind maps or flowcharts or through clear introductory comments and diagrams.

2. A clear step-by-step approach

This is essential if you are not going to get lost and frustrated. Marketing plans typically have steps as building blocks and if you can’t understand one of the key steps you can’t progress. Without the building blocks you are unable to set up a complete marketing system.

3. Answers your basic questions

Many creators of affiliate marketing plans forget what it was like when they first started out and are oblivious of the numerous questions you are likely to have. An effective marketing plan identifies your likely questions and offers sound, detailed advice. This can be communicated via a webinar recording, podcast, video or the transcript of ongoing coaching sessions with a newbie. In this way, the basic questions are identified at the stage they are likely to occur and the answers will thus make more sense.

4. Examples of how the affiliate marketing plan has been used

It’s one thing to read about marketing plans, it’s another to see concrete examples of how each stage of a marketing plan has been applied to a specific product or program. This enables you to make a connection with your own product or program and to see how you could apply the same principles.

5. Encouragement and support

It really helps if the creator of the marketing plans shows that they are aware of your stage of development, shares their own learning experiences and mistakes and offers constant encouragement and support.

6. An action plan to guide you

This helps you to keep tabs on what actions you have taken and where you are up to in the overall process. If you plan on conducting a number of campaigns, an action plan is essential – otherwise you will lose track of what you have done and where you want to go.

7. A checklist

This enables you to make sure you have covered all the steps and not left out a critical stage. The marketing plan checklist builds your confidence as well.

Some affiliate marketing plans leave you high and dry or throw you in the deep end to “sink or swim”. This is why so many people give up and leave their marketing plan e-books to gather dust. The creators of the better marketing plans are conscious of where you are at in your learning curve and offer concrete and supportive guidance.