Online marketing has become important for a lot of reasons. The vast availability of the internet, the affordable prices and the wide audiences you can come across all represent amazing opportunities for you and your business. But before you delve into the world of social media and online marketing, or hiring a company to do it for you, you need to ask these questions to yourself to fully understand what it is you're trying to achieve:
1) Who does your business target?
The most common answer we hear from business owners when we ask this question is, “Well, everyone. Right?” Wrong. Sure it’s a pleasant notion to think of every man, woman and child as a potential consumer, but it’s about as far from effective as you can be. Before you hire someone to bring you customers, you should have an ideal customer. We find that the easiest way to do this (at least in the short term), is to imagine someone walking through your door. What do they look like? What kind of music do they enjoy? Are they male? Female? What do they do for a living? Are they early risers or night owls? Once you paint a picture in your mind of this perfect customer, then you can begin to cater to that ideal, and your core group will be much easier to captivate.
2) Why you?
Sure, location helps. But at the end of the day, you have to possess something that sets you apart. In order to market effectively, you need to give people a reason to choose your business over the countless options available to them. It doesn’t matter if an online marketing company can get your brand in front of a million users a month. If you have nothing remarkable to say, there is nothing to be gained from buying the spotlight.
3) What do you need, and how much?
What resources do you need to achieve your goals? Do you need a website? Could your SEO use some help? Should you invest in Google AdWords, or will expanding your social network be enough to effectively market your product online? These factors depend on many variables like price point, profit margins and whether you are selling a product or service. Products and services with higher price points tend to benefit more from search engine optimization, mid to low priced products will do great with a search engine marketing campaign, and social media will help both benefit by increasing brand awareness and maintaining an ongoing conversation with the consumer.
4) How much do you have set aside for marketing and advertising?
It is strongly recommended that you have a monthly dollar value in mind before speaking to any company about your needs. You know your business better than anyone else. You know what you need, and you should know how much you are willing to pay for it. If you leave your budget open ended, you run the risk of having a company pile on too many components that aren’t absolutely necessary. Conversely, you could also encounter a company bidding too low in the interest of acquiring your business, and your needs will ultimately not be met. Either way, not knowing your spending threshold will typically lead to a poor allocation of funds, so pick a price range and stick with it.