Four Steps to Developing an Internet Marketing Strategy for Your Small Business

Websites, Facebook, email marketing, inbound marketing, digital branding, mobile applications.  Internet marketing is a must for any small business intent on increasing revenue and customers but how does a small business owner decide on the best Internet Marketing strategy for her business and where do you find the time to create and manage an online presence for your business?

It does take some time and thought, but let’s remember…you’ve started a business!  You certainly have the skills and intelligence to create an effective online presence without leveraging your business.  And with some initial planning and forethought, it only requires a few hours a week to get incredible returns.   Here are fie steps to

1.  Define Your Focus. As a entrepreneur you’re an independent thinker.   This is not the time to start acting on the hype.  Before you launch a Facebook page, website or any other online marketing campaign, have a clear understanding of what you want from your online marketing efforts.  Every business owner wants to increase revenue and increase customers so get specific! Who is your primary target market?  Where are they located?  Do you want to sell your product directly online?  Are you interested in building relationships that will foster long-term relationships with customers?  What action do you want to motivate in your visitors? Whatever your focus, write it down and review it annually.

2. Quantify Your Goals.  Once you’ve defined your target audience and your primary focus, give them some teeth.  If you’re a personal trainer who’s focused on attracting new customers and streamlining billing through online payment, define what success looks like for you in those areas.  How many new customers do you want to convert through your online marketing?  How many customers would need to use online payment services to make it a business enhancement.  Again, write it down.  Quantifying your goals before you make any major online marketing moves will help you assess your options, validate your expectations and measure the success of your efforts.

3. Assess Your  Resources.  A Yahoo! Small Business Owner Poll reports that owners see attracting customers as their number one challenge and time management (actually having enough time to run your business) as a close second.   An effective online marketing strategy can be developed and maintained in as little as three to five hours per week.  If you have the budget, you may want to consider hiring someone to manage it for you but you can do it yourself if you stay focused and commit the time.  Either way, be honest with yourself about your desire and commitment when considering how to resource your efforts. 

4. Determine Your Budget.  The average small companies in a Market Sherpa survey reported spending approximately 11% of their revenue on marketing.   When considering how much of your funds to devote to online marketing, time and development are not the only costs you need to consider.  You may incur costs for web hosting, payment management and processing, fees for specialized applications and more.   Before you become fully engaged in any online effort, have a good look at your budget and determine how much Return on Investment (ROI) you’d like to see.  If your online efforts are not making you money, you need to review your strategy.

Once you have a clear understanding of your goals, targets, resources and budget thresholds, you can confidently begin developing an online marketing strategy that will work for you instead of you working for it.

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