In recent weeks, I’ve published pieces about how you can define and attract your ideal client (#BestClientEver), where to find this unicorn of a person, and how important it is that you build a strategy to do just that.
While those are each important steps in marketing your business online, we’re still missing a crucial piece.
This missing link became glaringly obvious to me at a recent training I offered to a group of creative business owners as part of the Rising Tide Society.
The training, in short, allowed the participants to define exactly how they’re marketing their businesses right now, who their #BestClientEver is, and then how they’d move forward in marketing their businesses to that one key ideal person.
Within the first 20 minutes of the training – when they defined exactly how they’re marketing their businesses right now – I introduced the concept of the Online Marketing Web.
The Online Marketing Web, in reality, is a graphic that depicts the many different platforms and ways a business could market itself online and how those platforms and ways connect to one another.
One of two things happened when I unveiled this graphic at the training.
- The business owner circled everything on the page, indicating that she was marketing her business in most, if not in all, of these ways.
- The business owner circled one or two things on the page, indicating that she was marketing her business in just a few of these ways.
So, which one had it right from the start?
Because I haven’t told you the real truth behind all of this yet.
Here’s what was really going on here:
The business owner that was marketing in many ways realized that she was doing so not out of deliberate strategy, but because she thought that’s what she was supposed to do OR because over time all of these marketing “opportunities” ended up happening and she went with it.
The business owner that was marketing in just one or two ways realized that she too was not doing so out of deliberate strategy, but because she didn’t realize all of the other ways she could market her business. She knew of social media and being listed on a professional’s website, for instance but all of the other platforms were completely foreign to her.
From this experience, I have to assume that business owners that do not currently have an online marketings strategy, are either:
doing #ALLTHETHINGS without direction
don’t know #ALLTHETHINGS and therefore, are a bit lost, possibly without even knowing it.
Neither of these scenarios will get a business owner to her end goal, right?
Strategy is, at its very core, road-mapping your way to your destination.
If you’re going in all the directions, you’ll be super busy but still won’t get there.
And if you’re not aware of all the routes available to you, it’s BY CHANCE that you might get there.
If you’re on either of these “paths,” read on.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a firm grasp on what your online marketing options are and how they relate to one another. In the follow-up post, coming Thursday, January 26th, I’ll show you how to narrow your pathways down and decide what you will and will NOT do to market your business online.
First, let’s consider the offline marketing web we’re all familiar with. We might not be using these offline tactics anymore, but we’ve been subject to them in our daily consumer lives for the past 20-60 years, so we all get it.
Now, let’s take a look at the basic Online Marketing Web:
And now, a look at how it actually works in our incredibly inter-connected, technology-driven world, hence, the “web”:
From here on out, I’m going to describe each platform of this Online Marketing Web – what it is, what it relates to in the offline marketing landscape, and online examples you may be familiar with.
As you may have noticed, your website is at the very center of the Web. It acts as the “hub” of your online presence, much like your real-life store or office would. This is where your ideal client goes to do business with you directly.
When building and updating your website, remember that this space of yours on the Internet should welcome your ideal client just as if you’re welcoming them into your store or office.
Your website should be the most accurate, on-brand space you utilize online. It’s also where actual transactions can go down. Where the money is ACTUALLY made. Pretty important, eh?
To that point, consider your website “owned land.” It’s the only thing on the Internet that you actually truthfully own.
All of the other platforms discussed in the Web are pieces of “rented land.” Someone else owns those. And therefore, a business should never (I seriously repeat, should never) build their online presence solely on the rented space of any of the other platforms.
Why? Because you wouldn’t build your dream house on a piece of land that you don’t own, right? The truth is, if you don’t own the land you’re building on, that land could be sold to someone that changes the rules and says you can’t build there anymore, regardless of how much work you’ve already put in.
Building your online presence solely on a social media platform, for instance, is a serious liability to you and your business for this very reason. Facebook, Instagram, any other platform that you don’t own, could change the rules TODAY and all of your hard work put into those platforms could be scratched immediately.
If you have a website, though, these changes you have no control over don’t affect you as much. At least your ideal client can still find you and do business with you on your website that you have complete control over.
As we’re all probably familiar with, social media platforms are a main driver in online marketing strategy these days.
Why? Because that’s where the people are!
Think of social media platforms as you would a real-life party, event, or conversation outside of your store or office.
This is where relationships start. This is where your ideal client is often most apt to have a conversation with you and where you can begin building trust and repertoire with him.
Done right, connections on social media then point the ideal client to the direction of your website – where the real business gets earned and real money gets transferred.
When we’re talking about email in this context, think of the emails that are sent via an emailing system, emailing many people at once – commonly referred to as an “email blast.”
Showing up in someone’s email inbox is much like calling a “warm” prospect at their home or office, but much less interruptive.
This potential client has made it to your website at some point in time and opted in to receive your value-packed emails. They’ve been exposed to your business before and therefore, are a “warm” prospect.
Now that you have their email address, you may show up in their inbox with even more value to add to their lives and every once in a while, a call to action to become your paying client/customer.
Again, this is just like ringing their telephone, but without the abrupt interruption. You wouldn’t call them every single week giving them 14 different reasons they should pay you their hard-earned money, would you? (Hope not.)
If you’re going to call or email regularly, you’d better have something of value to give them – usable information, a free tool they can use right away, an honest suggestion that will help them move the needle forward. And then, eventually, you may have earned enough trust that they then will take you up on your every-so-often-offers to open their wallet.
By (my) definition, advertising is marketing that you pay for. So, if you pay any amount of money to publish information or place something anywhere on the Internet, consider it advertising.
Placing an ad somewhere online is just like placing an ad somewhere offline, such as in newspaper or magazine. BUT the one key difference is that online advertising is usually highly trackable compared to offline advertising.
When you place an ad somewhere offline, it can’t be clicked. You can’t track what the person does having just seen your ad.
Online, however, you often can. They click the ad, for instance, and go straight to your website. Not only is this incredibly simple and easy for the person doing the clicking, but it’s also like a referral tracking gold mine for you. You know exactly which ads are generating the most traffic to your website and the most revenue to your business.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
To “search engine optimize” your website means to improve its find-ability, should your ideal client type in certain keywords into their search engine (i.e. Google).
Think of SEO like you would a sign outside your store or office. Your client is trying to find you, they spot the sign and think, “YES! That’s what I’m looking for!” and swing into your parking lot.
If your website is search engine optimized, your ideal client is looking for what you have on your website so they type in some keywords into their search engine, you show up “high” in the search results, they think, “YES! That’s what I’m looking for!” and click over to your website.
I don’t pretend to be an SEO expert, so if you’d like to read more about SEO for beginners, check this guide out from Hubspot.
Influencer marketing is often overlooked by small businesses (and honestly, medium and large businesses) online, so listen up. You can utilize influencer marketing by identifying someone or some business that already has the attention and trust of your ideal client and collaborating with this influencer to “get in front of” their audience.
Online influencer marketing is much like offline public relations (PR). When you leverage PR, you’re essentially piggy-backing off of someone else’s success/audience/outreach to become “trusted by association.”
Your ideal client already trusts this influencer. Then they see you being associated with and trusted by said influencer. It’s only natural that your ideal client, having seen this collaboration, will be more apt to trust and work with you too.
If you or your business operates in a specific industry to provide a specific product or service, you may find that there are trusted places online that list providers like you. Sometimes getting on these professional listings is free and sometimes you have to pay to be listed, which would be considered “advertising.”
For instance, if you’re a paid member of your local Chamber of Commerce, you will then be listed on the Chamber’s website as a provider of your service in your local area.
Another example – if you’re a wedding photographer in Philadelphia, you can pay to be listed on TheKnot.com, a national, highly-trusted resource for everything involving weddings.
One more – if you’re a certified QuickBooks Accountant, you can be listed on the trusted, global QuickBooks website as a certified QB accountant, searchable by local area.
Either way, think of these professional listings like being listed in the phone book but with a higher trust factor involved. Your ideal client may go first to this website they already trust (i.e. Chamber website, TheKnot, QuickBooks) and THEN search for you, as opposed to searching on Google and praying they find someone legit.
Just like the rest of the platforms listed, a mobile app may or may not be something your business needs to offer. Mobile apps usually are valuable for a business to have when they either:
a) Have to provide immediate customer service, or
b) Provide a web-based tool their client can use online
Therefore, think of a mobile app acting as a direct customer service line and/or access to a specific tool only the business can provide to its client.
For example, Geico’s app provides a direct line to their customer service department that can then provide immediate roadside service or help filing a claim or pay a bill.
Another example is Buffer’s app. Buffer allows its users to schedule social media posts. This is a valuable online tool.
While the app’s primary function is to provide customer service or a tool, they become marketing platforms when the app owner markets their other products/services on it. For instance, you’re filing a claim on Geico’s app but you’re also seeing a small banner at the top of the screen asking you if you’d like to view other coverage options.
There you have it. The Online Marketing Web.
As illustrated earlier, each of these platforms connect back to the business website, but also interconnect with each other in various ways.
It’s no wonder this online marketing stuff gets convoluted quickly, especially when you’re just trying to run all the other facets of your business.
I get it. It’s a lot.
Where do we go from here, then? How can we take this information and make it an asset to our marketing strategy and not an overwhelming hinderance?
In short, remember that not every platform is going to matter to your #BestClientEver. Therefore, you do NOT need to be everywhere all at once.
Again, building a strategy is like building a road map. You’ve got options for routes, but what will get you to your final destination in the best possible way?
First, if you haven’t already, define your #BestClientEver – that client you’d just LOVE to work with – using this free worksheet guide.
Then, use this printable Online Marketing Web Worksheet to identify exactly what you’re doing to market your business online right now.
Print it out. Circle what you’re utilizing and what you’re not. And then, for bonus points, jot down a few details about why and how you’re using what you’re using.
With this information, you can move onto this follow-up post that shows you the exact six-step process of creating your marketing strategy. The best part about this is that you finally find your marketing focus and can leave the other stuff that really doesn’t matter behind.
That’s key, right?
[bctt tweet=”You can’t get to where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re starting from.” username=”britkolo”]