Six Things to do Before You Start Marketing Your Business Online

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Nearly all business owners understand that online marketing is of vital importance to your online success. And while you dont want to get so bogged down in planning that you never start, there are some things you simply need to do before you jump in feet first. These principles also apply if you are considering revamping your online marketing.

Step One: Take an Honest Look at Your Business Overall

Believe me, I get it. Your business is your baby. But with successful online marketing comes a magnification of every aspect of your business the good, the bad, and (especially) the ugly. Is your product or service truly valuable one you have reason to be proud of? Is the pricing reasonable? You dont have to be the least expensive, but if youre the most expensive, there had better be a good reason for it.

Step Two: Perfect Your Customer Service

Review sites and social media interactions have taken customer service from private phone call to public spectacle. While there is likely already some talk about you online (for good or bad), jumping in to online marketing will only increase your exposure. Make sure your customer service is absolutely second-to-none in real life, and the transition to online will be much easier and less potentially embarrassing!

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Step Three: Take Stock of Your Current Sales and Marketing

Where are your leads and sales coming from now? Are they from mostly online or offline sources? Which ones? Do you know how many website visits it takes to generate a lead on your website? How many of those leads ever become customers? If you dont have Google Analytics set up on your website now, get that done immediately.

Step Four: Understand Your Customers

In order to effectively market your business, you need to understand the people who need your product or service and why they choose you. It seems so very basic, and it is but its something many business owners have trouble putting in to words. Here are some things to consider when creating a customer profile.

What challenges and problems does your customer face that could be helped by your product or service?
What questions do they ask which would lead them to your product or service?
What motivates them in their decision-making? What are their values
Where do they get their information for decision-making?
What do you do for them better than anyone else can do?

Step Five: Know Where You Want Need to Be and When

What do you want? Everything! When do you want it? Now! OK, now that weve gotten that out of the way, its time to think about what you really need from your business, by when, and why. Are you just starting out and you need to start turning a profit by bringing in new customers? Are you tired of working 60 hours a week and ready to take some time off and start saving for retirement? Where you are personally will have a great impact on what you need from your business and by when.

Start from the goal and work backwards, creating Specific, Measurable, Relevant, Time-Bound goals.

Step Six: Take Stock of Your Inventory

No, not the number of widgets in your warehouse were talking about your marketing inventory. Before you protest that you havent any, think about this:

Content: Do you have any brochures, product catalogs, newsletter content, or videos?

Expertise and Talent: Think about your employees (and yourself). Are there talents and skills among them that you can put to use in online marketing? If anyone on your team is skilled at writing, editing, graphic design, analytics jot down their names they are invaluable marketing assets!

Time: Is there someone on your team with the above-mentioned skills who has a little extra time in their work day? If not, could some of their tasks be moved to someone else with a bit of down time?

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BONUS: Educate Yourself

Whether you decide to work with an agency, or handle everything in-house, you still need a degree of marketing know-how. Follow reputable blogs and spend some time learning what really works before you start marketing. We like the HubSpot blog, as well as OverGoStudio and Web.Search.Social Ralph is the one who reminded me this needed to be included Doh! If you prefer a podcast, check out our Pinterest board with some of our favorites.

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