Newbie Article Writers Develop an Internet Marketing Plan

Most new article marketers start on the fly without any internet marketing plan. This short article will guide you to ask yourself a few questions to help you develop a plan.

Newbie article writers does this sound familiar:

  • “Well, the first thing you have to do is find a product. No wait, you have to determine who it is that you are going to sell to. Find out who your customers are.”
  • “No, you have to find a niche first. What are you passionate about?”
  • “And don’t forget, you need a Domain Name Server (DNS) for your domain name and a hosting service to host the domain. You need a website. No, no, wait, you don’t even need to have a website.”
  • One other thing, “You need traffic. So, you have to socialize, tweet, bookmark, and post at forums. And, oh yes, there are some other marketing methods to consider, but we will visit them later.”

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Have you experienced this? I have. It is very frustrating. Your brain is attacked. It is overrun by guru advice and overwhelming amounts of information.

Hitting the Target

Imagine being a novice target shooter. You have never done it before. At first, you try a bow and arrow. After a few attempts, you come close to hitting the bull’s-eye, but not quite.

A friend offers you a slingshot. You try that. Another friend interrupts your shooting and offers you a pistol. You try that. Still another friend says,”No, you need a rifle, try this.”

Get the picture? It sounds not too unlike newbie article writers stumbling through the maze of guru advice.

Anyone of those weapons can hit the target. It takes focus (effort), consistency (a plan), and practice (work). Once you have hit the target with one, you can try a new weapon.

So what is the best way to do article marketing? There is no one way to do article marketing. Nevertheless, like any other business venture you should have a plan, a map, to make money writing articles online.

Effort, Planning, Work

Read many of the guru sales pages and most of them promise you unbelievable sums of income. While many of those incomes may be real, those sales pages fail to tell you the back story.

It takes effort, a plan, and work to make money writing articles online. It’s a business. It takes focus, consistency, and practice. Nothing you don’t already know.

Develop an Internet Marketing Plan

Starting an internet marketing business is easy. Anyone can do it. Why, then, do 95% of those Internet marketing hopefuls fail to make money with their home based internet marketing business?

Some will say that it is because of our need for instant gratification. We want to make money and we want to make it now.

That may well be part of the story, but I think the reason is just a bit more unimaginative and a bit more practical. Would you start a business without a plan? Well, you might, but it would be ill advised and probably doomed to failure.

Let us call it a marketing plan. An internet marketing plan is the big picture.

  • What product or niche offer you the best chance of profitability?
  • How much money, time, effort are you willing to spend promoting your product or service?
  • How much competition do you have?
  • Are a blog, website, or squeeze page best suited for your product promotion?
  • How will you distribute articles: ezines, article directories, blogs, offline?

These are just a few questions you should ask yourself.

Home Based Internet Marketing Business

The beauty of writing for the web for profit is that you can work at home. You have no payroll, no inventory, and in some cases, no customer interface. Online writing is a perfect home based business, but it needs an internet marketing plan.

With a road map, a plan, you can maneuver through the maze of guru mumbo-jumbo. You contribute the focus and the work, follow the plan (be consistent) and you will be on your way to making money. Not to mention, enjoying the pride of owning your own home based internet marketing business.

The Bank Won’t Back Your Business Because You Don’t Have a Marketing Plan

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all-time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” – Vince Lombardi (1913-1970) American professional football coach.

I started this article about marketing plans with one of my favorite quotes on winning, because in today’s world, where the average person has the attention span of a gnat, I believe that marketing is a lot like winning – “it’s an all-time thing”. If you aren’t marketing your products and services to your prospective clients almost literally every hour of every day, you can bet that at least one of your competitors will be.

Many businesses neglect this crucial aspect when they put together their business plan because they feel like they don’t have the expertise required to come up with a marketing plan. But businesses that want to live, thrive and survive in a modern marketplace will have to come to grips with marketing. Very few businesses can afford to sit back and wait for customers to beat down their doors. And even the few that are in that enviable position will see their customers drawn away to their competitors without some form of marketing.

Marketing, at its core, is about creating and managing opportunities for your business to grow its sales to both existing customers and to new customers. Having a marketing plan is about capitalizing on these opportunities and also about making your business more bankable. If you can’t show the bank that you have a marketing plan that will lead you to more customers and more customers to you, you’ve given them a good reason not to back your business.

In order to create an effective marketing plan, there are a few things you will need to know. Listed below are 8 things you need to know to create a great marketing plan.

  1. Know your marketing budget. It doesn’t matter if you have $500 or $500,000, setting a marketing budget is more about knowing what resources you have available to go out and “buy some customers”. (OK, I admit, the actual amount you have to spend does make a difference, but even a modest marketing budget spent wisely will reap benefits.) The key is knowing how much you have to work with and then actually doing something with it – don’t convince yourself that marketing is only for companies with a lot of money lying around. Treat your decision on how much to spend as an investment decision as opposed to an expenditure decision. Remember, it’s about how much it will cost you to “buy” each new customer and comparing that cost to how much you stand to make in sales to that new customer over their lifetime.
  2. Know WHO your customers are. The old cliche of target market. Well, it may be cliche, but it’s 100% spot on. If you don’t know who you’re trying to reach with your marketing efforts, you might as well be throwing your marketing budget away. It is critical that you get as precise as possible with this – try to narrow down your ideal customers’ demographics to the greatest extent possible. Then try to identify WHERE this group of people are most highly concentrated – that’s where you should be concentrating your marketing efforts.
  3. Know WHAT message you want to communicate to your target market. Good marketing makes your prospective clients “an offer they can’t refuse”. Your message should literally drive customers through your door armed with the knowledge of what they want to buy and why they want to buy it. Your marketing message should illicit a response.
  4. Know what works. To effectively craft a marketing message, you will need to know what works and what doesn’t work. Therefore, measurement is crucial to pinpointing your marketing messages. You can’t manage what you can’t measure – so keep careful track of the minute details of all your marketing efforts and regularly review the results. Then you can refine the message to make it more and more effective over time while relegating the bits that don’t work to the scrap heap.
  5. Know your strategy. Marketing strategy is about the exact methods you will use and actions you will take in order to effectively communicate your message to your target market. Will you use television advertising, radio, print, online, referrals, dropping leaflets from a helicopter? Marketing strategy is the “HOW” of communicating your message to your target market. This is the area where it is most likely that you will want to employ some expert advice. There are a lot of choices out there, and unless you’ve got an unlimited marketing budget, you will need to be convinced about which delivery channels are going to give you the most bang for your buck.
  6. Know how your marketing message and your marketing strategy fit in with your overall business plan. Remember that a critical part of any business plan is to establish your “school of thought” or your philosophy for doing business. Make sure that your marketing plan has the same “WHY” as your overall business plan. It’s not going to work if your marketing is at odds with your “school of thought” – the vision and the brand you’re trying to establish.
  7. Know WHEN you should be marketing. As mentioned before, in today’s marketing hurricane, it’s a good idea to be out flying your kite any time the wind is blowing. You don’t ever want to give customers the impression that your business has shut up shop by not marketing regularly, even continually. But every business will have its own unique business cycle to keep in mind. By addressing your particular business cycle with a marketing plan that includes different amounts and locations of strategic messages you can smooth out the business cycle and reduce the likelihood of wasting valuable time and effort.
  8. Know what your competitors are doing. Know what your enemies are up to, but resist the temptation to imitate everyone else in your industry and simply “go with the flow”. Marketing is, after all, supposed to differentiate you from your competition, not prove that you can be as boring and predictable as the rest of the herd. Marketing is about drawing attention to your business and its unique attributes that will draw new customers to you. Think of the marketing ideas that have most caught your attention and made you want to do business with a particular company. Chances are, those marketing ideas weren’t run-of-the-mill or mere carbon copies of what everyone else was doing. You should constantly look to innovate, update and reinvent your approach to marketing your business. Ask yourself, “What can I deliver to my clients today that is completely different from what I was offering a year or two ago, but that is still consistent with my “school of thought”.

One final word on marketing. Along with cutting staff, cutting the marketing budget is one of the most commonly resorted to tactics companies use to save on expenses in an economic downturn. This is despite the overwhelming evidence that companies that do so inevitably suffer in the long run in terms of sales revenues and profitability. While a marketing plan should take into account the certainty of change in today’s marketplace, a business that takes the attitude that they cannot afford to have a marketing budget when times get tough or when things begin to get more volatile than usual is fooling itself.

No business can afford not to market itself. Intelligent business managers will use calculated marketing efforts in bad times to keep delivering their marketing message to their target market while everyone else slips into a state of hibernation. Think about using the reduction in marketing message traffic during a downturn to make your message as visible as possible and drive even more business through your door while everyone else boards up their windows and waits for the storm to pass. How you handle tough times will differentiate you from your competition – you can choose to shut up shop and wait for the storm to pass with the rest of them, or you can set up a side business selling electrical generators. I’ll finish this article with a quote that makes my point about what your marketing strategy should be aiming to accomplish in the “downturn”.

“Use the economic slowdown to prepare your business for the upcoming market showdown.” -Alan Blair, The Bankable Business Builder.

A Simplified and Savvy Marketing Plan That Works! Really

Time to create your marketing plan. Bleh, you say.

Just the words, marketing plan, sound so dry and conjure images of lengthy word documents, online research, and possibly some sort of matrix.

Completely understandable. But, what if there is a different way?

What if we take that complex process, boil it down, and only use what small business owners truly need? The single most important elements and a workable plan. That doesn’t sound so bad. Because, really, once we take out all the mumbo jumbo, we’re left with four parts:

1. Evaluate Existing Foundation

2. Know Your Target Audience Precisely

3. Create A Workable Plan

4. Measure Everything

Evaluate Existing Foundation

In order for any amount of marketing, advertising, or public relations to work, the marketing foundation must be solid. Your marketing foundation includes: logo, tagline, Unique Selling Proposition (USP), and customer service. If your company has been in business for more than a year, you have your logo and your tagline. If it is solid, let’s not tinker with it. We are not on a rebranding mission. But, the other elements, the USP, and your customer service…let’s talk.

1. Unique Selling Proposition – Ah yes, the USP. When used effectively, it’s a beautiful thing. The USP is a concise statement that bundles the top reasons why people should buy from you. It should be brief, it should be distinctive, and it should be yours – no copy-cats allowed. If you already have a fantastic USP, great! It should be included in every business material your business puts out into the world, even your invoice. If you do not have a solid, compelling USP, start talking to people. Find out from your customers why they do business with you, ask your friends, get feedback, and write a single sentence that is packed with conviction.

2. Customer Service – Customer service is an essential element of the marketing foundation. If you make a guarantee in your USP, be sure to follow though with your customer service. “We answer the phone on the first ring!” Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring, “Press 0 to speak to the operator.” Guess who just hung up? Not to mention, that caller will probably tell 10 people about the experience.

It is not enough to treat customers and potential customers with respect, they must actually like you. They have to feel good when they interact with you or anyone else in your business. Your customer service must run like a well-oiled machine for marketing, PR, or advertising to improve your business.

Know Your Target Audience Precisely

A common mistake made by small businesses is to cast a wide net when trying to attract customers. Although your products or services are probably suitable for a very broad audience, it is important to target precise segments because it gives you more of a marketing punch! In addition, you can be more choosy about who you want to do business with.

When you segment your target audience, you are able to have a deeper conversation. A target audience of, “women, age 25-54,” for example, can be segmented to, “women, age 30-45, with a college education, household income of $65K per year, married, own a home, have children in the public school system, busy with work and family activities, eat-out once a week, concerned about saving money.” With this new information, you are able to write a marketing message that will speak to these women:

Restaurant Print Ad – “Take a night off from the grind and treat your family to a night out. Enjoy family-friendly live music and receive 20%-off your meal when your kids present their school I.D.”

Jeweler Promotion – “Join us for ‘Ladies Evening Out.’ Enjoy wine tasting and cheese plates. Make out a Mother’s Day wish list and we’ll send a personalized card to drop the hint. In addition, anything purchased off the list in the month of May will be 20% off.”

Accountant Promotion – “Dear Busy Moms, It’s time to relax. Schedule an appointment to for your taxes in the month of February and receive a free manicure while your taxes are being done!”

Segmenting the target market creates opportunities to engage potential customers and show an understanding of their wants, needs, struggles, and goals.

Compare these ideas to fishing. A small business casts a huge net and catches some fish; however, they also catch algae, seaweed, a rubber tire…a boot. On the other hand, if you know what you are fishing for, you can attract the fish you want with the perfect bait. The results are fewer, less costly casts and more of the fish you want! The main goal is to pinpoint the precise type of customer you are seeking and attract them by showing a deep understanding of their needs.

To determine your target audience precisely, think of your number one customer or client. Who are they? What’s their business like, what are their interests, and how do they purchase your products? Think about what they look like and how they act. How do they want to be perceived? What’s their M.O.? What is there home life like? What kind of music do they listen to? Get personal. Get down to the nitty gritty details. Paint a picture with words. Once you have written down your description, your goal is to find more people like this. This is your target audience, your perfect fish, the fish you should bait and cast for in every marketing effort.

Workable Plan

Once you know who you are targeting, it is much easier to create a workable plan. Keyword: workable. Be mindful of how much time and money you have to invest and do not extend beyond this. The workable marketing plan can, and should, be simplified. It should be as simple as a 12 month calendar.

Look at the big picture: 12 months, 52 weeks, 4 seasons.

At the beginning of the year, or during your planning period, create goals for your business. An example: obtain 10 new clients, secure 10 speaking engagements, and position the business as the go-to company in the region. Then, start making plans to accomplish the goal by creating tactics that support each goal.

Let’s keep working with our example. The first goal is to obtain 10 new clients. You have a clean marketing calendar in front of you. Think, what times of the year does my target market purchase my products or services? How do they buy it? How do they hear about me? What types of activities are happening in the lives of my target market? Then, jot down ideas based on months of the year. Perhaps you send a direct mail piece, one for each new season (winter, spring, summer, fall), with a direct response coupon, and follow up with a personal phone call. Or, maybe you place a print ad in a local newspaper for a free sample, and follow up with a packet of information for the people who respond to the ad. Write down a targeted tactic for each quarter, and when you place a marketing tactic in a certain month, work backwards to make sure you plan and execute the work needed to get it off the ground. If you send a direct mail piece in March, the task for February is to create the piece, get it printed, and decide who you will send it to.

Continue to do this with your other business goals (i.e. secure 10 new speaking engagements, position the business as the go-to company in the region).

The most important part of your small business marketing plan is writing it down. If you do not write it down, it is not a plan, it is just a dream. This can not be emphasized enough.

Once the workable plan is finalized, keep a printed version of your marketing calendar right on your desk. Integrate it with the other parts of your small business and add your to-do items to your business calendar. Integrating the plan with daily business activities is key. Integration makes the workable plan workable.

Measurement

Every marketing effort must be measured. Measure everything. If it can not be measured, it cannont be improved. Do not employ a marketing effort unless it is measured. Yes, I just stated the same idea four times. Why? Because, small business owners loathe measuring marketing results. Perhaps it is due to fear of failure, lack of time, or they just do not want to be bothered with it. No excuses, here. Every marketing effort must be measured, otherwise you will never know if something is truly worth the investment. That is what marketing is: an investment. This investment can easily be measured.

The simplest, most sure-fire way to measure marketing is to utilize direct response. For example, if you place a print ad, include a unique web address in the call to action and record the number of hits you receive. If it’s a direct mail piece, record the number of phone calls you receive in response. How do you know if they’re calling in response to the effort? Ask ‘em, of course. “May I ask how you heard about us?” It’s a question that people truly, do not mind answering. As you execute each marketing effort, keep a tally right on your calendar to determine the response rate:

Number of impressions / number of responses = response rate

The number of impressions takes different forms, such as the circulation of a newspaper, or the number of direct mail pieces mailed. When you divide the number of responses by the number of impressions, the result is the response rate. Once you determine the response rate, you then calculate out how much the effort truly cost your business:

Cost of effort / response rate = Cost per response

The cost per response is an important number because it levels the playing field when determining the overall effectiveness of a marketing tactic. An expensive marketing effort might be worth the high cost if you see it is offset by the high number of responses. In fact, it may be less expensive to invest more and receive more responses. Or, maybe it’s a pipe dream. Perhaps the Chamber newsletter print ad you placed was the most effective. You will know by calculating the cost per response.

Conclusion

By utilizing this simplified strategy and adhering to these principles, you will quickly identify areas of your marketing plan that are not working and be able to focus more energy on successful marketing tactics. You will have the insight to make small adjustments in areas of need instead of starting over every year.

Two quick tips for implementation:

If you find yourself working on something that falls into the realm of marketing, and it is not part of your workable plan, stop. It is very easy to get sucked into the idea of the week, or something you think is important. Keep the big picture in mind. You can tweak your workable plan throughout the year; however, it is important to follow through with your initial thought process. Otherwise, you will forever fall prey to the idea or deal of the week.

Don’t be shy. As you start to implement your workable plan, you may find yourself thinking, “This is too aggressive,” or “I’m putting myself out there too much.” Don’t. You thought this through and it makes sense. Your business is a value to others and they need to know about it. Move forward with confidence!

Contact Creative Marketing Guru for a free marketing plan worksheet.