marketing team at work

What do you think of when you hear the word “marketing?” Or how about “online marketing?”

If you were to search the web for either term, you might come to the conclusion that:

There is one best way to do marketing, and if you read enough books/posts or listen to enough TedTalks/podcasts, you can discover it.

A marketing plan is something you just do once, from Step 1 through whatever final step is on your official marketing plan. And then you just do it. All of it. In order.

If you have a good enough product or service, you really don’t need much marketing. “If you build it, they will come” works every time. Just ask Google.

Sigh. If only. If only any of those were true.

The truth is, marketing is complex. And fluid. And no matter how good your creation/invention/innovation might be, odds are no one will be beating a path to your website unless you do some honest-to-goodness marketing. And this is never more true then when you’re just starting out with a new company or a new product line. Or even if you’re taking your first steps into digital marketing from a more traditional brick-and-mortar approach.

At this point, you’re in what we call Stage One. The make-or-break, get-the-word-out, no-time-for-mistakes stage.

Have we scared you yet? Because that’s not what we wanted to do. (Okay, maybe a little bit.) But there’s good news, too. When your business is at Stage One, you have a chance to do your marketing right, right from the start. So let’s look at what that means, and what you need to consider.

Tell them why you’re special

Most products and services have competitors — someone out there selling something almost the same (or exactly the same) as yours. That’s why it’s so important to start your marketing plan with a clear description of what makes your offerings different from and better than the competition. Consider involving your staff in a brainstorming. Is your product inventory of higher quality? Less expensive? Do you offer additional features, or options? How about intangibles like where it’s made, whether it’s organic, greener, or already loved by someone famous like Oprah or a winning quarterback? Go crazy, but be honest. Marketing has a bad rap because too many people fill this step with imaginary “benefits” and inflated claims. Don’t be that person.

Draw a picture of your ideal customer

No, no, not THAT customer. You know, the one who will buy everything you’re selling, all at once, allowing you to immediately retire to the Bahamas with a cold drink in your hand. We’re talking about the realistic picture of your ideal customer. How old are they?  Where do they live? How much education do they have, and what is their likely occupation? Are they male or female? Straight or gay? What do they do on the weekends, and where do they vacation? In terms of business (B2B) clients, how large is their company? Who is their customer?  How formal or informal is the company? Where is their company located — and is there more than one location? Are they constrained by any regulatory agencies? Do they have a bid process or can they buy on the open market?

Defining your target customer will help you understand their needs, their vocabulary, and their purchasing behavior, which feeds into the next step: working with a pro to develop a digital marketing plan.

Find a digital marking partner

Now that you’ve identified what makes your widget or widget service so much better than anything else on the market, and who wants it or needs it, it’s time to bring in a pro to work with you. An experienced digital marketing team can identify the search terms being used by your prospects, and discover how strongly positioned your competition is…so you can plan a well-researched marketing campaign.

While you’re working on distribution channels or packaging, they can start turning those outstanding qualities into a marketing plan, complete with search terms, ad copy, site architecture and SEO-optimized copy. Remember number three above?  The “if you build it, they will come” part?  This is the opposite of that. This is taking everything you need to say about what you’re selling, and sharing it with the world…using the language they are using to find a solution. It’s not only building a path, it’s building a highway, complete with giant billboards showing anyone remotely interested what you have and how it will solve their problems. That’s essential for Stage One marketing — but it’s also one of the most overlooked pieces of Stage One. You have been warned!

And you’re on your way!

These three elements will get you going on marketing your new business or product. But that’s not all. Check out this amazing Stage One digital marketing checklist from White Lion. We love what they have to share. Or give us a call at 512-637-5271, Ext 12, and we’ll help you start on a plan to successful digital marketing that works.