One of the most important factors for a successful Internet business is a well-researched Internet Marketing plan. In this session we will discuss about Internet marketing plan, its ingredients and their contribution to the success of an online business.
An Internet Marketing plan helps guide the company step-by-step on what products to market and how in which specific market segments. The purpose of Internet Marketing plan is to help company stay focused on achieving its objectives.
The ingredients of Internet Marketing plan can be outlined as market analysis, product & competition research, mission statement, goals, existing/expected sales, advertising mediums, PR campaigns, and all possible online & offline advertising strategies, budget, and measuring the objectives:
Market Research (Must be an on-going process)
You need to do initial research about the product(s) and/or services you are planning to sell and its market. Collect, organize, and document the data about the market that is currently consuming the product(s) and/or service(s) you are planning to sell. For the sake of simplicity we will refer to services as products.
Some areas you can consider are:
- Market dynamics
- Customers - demographics, market segment
- Current industry share
- Suppliers-vendors chain
- Target Market(s)
Product (Needs lot of research and convincing)
Describe your product to its fullest extent. Does your product match up with the market segment you are targeting? Check out the current trends in the market and consumer habits for the category of product you are introducing. If the product is already in the market and you are re-marketing, then what are your competition and their pricing? What are the promotional tools that you are planning to use?
Bottom-line is you need to answer a lot of questions and be able to stand-by your justifications with numbers in order to make your product launch to be as smooth and successful as possible.
Competition (Know thy competitor)
Describe and research about your competition. Competitors are your best friends when it comes to re-marketing the same or similar product in the given segment, since your competitors are already selling it and have done it. Learn from your competition. Use your think-tank to figure out areas where competitions have not yet established their dominance and develop your "unique selling proposition" in that area. You marketing department need to be able to utilize the USP to help company stand apart from the competition.
Check out Compete.com provides insight into “who and how” are competitors are doing.
Mission Statement (It is not easy to define one clearly - focus)
Entrepreneur – defines: “A sentence describing a company's function, markets and competitive advantages; a short written statement of your business goals and philosophies”
A mission statement defines what an organization is, why it exists, and its reason for being. At a minimum, your mission statement should define who your primary customers are, identify the products and services you produce, and describe the geographical location in which you operate.
Write a few sentences that define clearly and concisely:
- Key market - who are your customers and which segments you are trying to reach
- Contribution - what is your niche and are planning to sell
- Distinction - your unique selling proposition – why are you different from your competition?
Note: We have already talked about these questions in previous section of this article. This section is about answering those clearly.
Internet Marketing Strategies (Diversification of strategies is key)
Below are some of the most useful website promotion strategies that you can use:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Pay Per Click Search Engine Marketing
- Affiliate Marketing
- Link Exchanges
- Write Articles and distribute them online
- Write press releases and distribute them online
- Advertise in ezines
- Network using social networking services like myspace, facebook, twitter, and linked in (there are 100s of other social media services available)
We will discuss about each of these under our future articles in greater details.
Offline/Traditional Advertising Strategies (Other side of coin, you will always need)
- You can refer to our article on Traditional Marketing Techniques for more details on this
Pricing, Positioning and Branding (Establish your niche)
From the information collected, establish strategies for determining the price of your product, where your product will be positioned in the market and how you will achieve brand awareness.
Budget (What % of your marketing budget is for online)
Budget your dollars. What strategies can you afford? How much can you afford to spend per month?
Marketing Goals (Must be quantifiable & measurable)
Establish quantifiable and measurable marketing goals. Quantifiable means the goals that you can turn into numbers, and as we have discussed earlier online numbers are measurable.
Monitor Performance & Results (Test & Analyze)
Test, test, and test the website & strategies. Identify the strategies that are working.
- Perform surveys
- Track visitors & their activities, call to action that convert to leads, sales.
- Measure Return on Investment per each marketing activity
- Marketing Plan Workbook (Sunday Times Business Enterprise Guide)
- The Customer Quest: 5-Steps to a Proven Marketing Plan
- SPAN's Marketing Plan Workbook: A Guide for Turning Ideas into Action
- The DIY Marketing Plan Workbook (DIY Marketing Plan Workbook)
- Big Business Strategies for Small Businesses: A Marketing Plan Workbook