Adam Franklin is the co-author of Web Marketing That Works and a social media speaker. He is the Marketing Manager of Bluewire Media and co-creator of the popular Web Strategy Planning Template. His weekly Bluewire News emails are received by over 15,000 marketers around the world.
How to create an online marketing plan for your business
Q1. What is an online marketing plan?
A documented plan to get you from where you are now to where you’d like to be at a set point in the future.
Q2. Why should a business consider creating an online marketing plan?
Because it’s essential to know how you are going to achieve whatever goals you’d like to achieve online. Same as having a documented strategy for your business, your fitness, your finances. Without the plan, success is unlikely.
Q3. What are the main steps in developing an online marketing plan for small to medium sized businesses?
1. Know and define your ideal buyers: This is the first step and most important because it helps you and your marketing team understand exactly who you are trying to help. I even go as far as giving my buyer personas a name. For example I call my “marketing manager” buyer persona “Nicola” so when I sit down to write, record or film content I can picture “Nicola” and craft it for her.
2. Understand their problems: Once you’ve got a clear picture of your buyer personas, you can dive into what problems they face or what aspirations they have. If you understand this part you will never struggle with the question of how to create an online marketing plan for your business. An easy way to discover these problems and aspirations is to actually ask customers who fit your “buyer persona” description.
3. Publish free content online: If everything you publish helps your buyers solve their problems or achieve their goals, then they will know, like and trust you. Everyone eventually gets out of their depth and if you’ve been the most helpful, hopefully you will be the person they decide to engage. You can publish your knowledge and expertise in whatever format you like most, for example as a blog, podcast, video, infographics, webinars or e-books to name a few.
4. Create a self-paced journey: You want to allow your buyers to take baby steps towards doing business with you. I suggest you let people get to know you by publishing valuable free content, then let them get to like you by being active on social media and forming a relationship with email marketing and finally let them get to trust enough so that they purchase from you. Once you’ve got a customer, keep on delivering value and they will continue to buy from you and refer you to their friends.
Q4. In your experience, what factors are most critical to the success of an online marketing strategy?
The strategy is the easy bit. Executing the strategy is when the “fun ideas” turn into “hard work”. The most critical part is making sure you ‘do the work’ day-in, day-out to execute your plan. It’s totally like sticking to your investment plan or your fitness plan. It’s easy to write the plan but much harder to get out of bed and do it every day. This is why documenting your online marketing plan on a single page is very effective. It provides the overall direction you need to take and reminds you each day what you should be doing and how you should be doing it.
Q5. What resources could you recommend to business owners looking for further information or assistance in how to create an online marketing plan that gets results?
Our Web Strategy Planning Template is a great place to start. It’s free and you can document your web strategy on a single piece of paper. It’s a double sided PDF where you define your strategy on one side and visualise your “Web Universe” on the flip side.