There are times I’ve HATED the day I decided to start a small business. I mean… I despised that I ever dreamed of making a difference in the lives of small business owners. Why? Because I ran into so many obstacles I didn’t know how to deal with, and those situations gave me more opportunities to feel like a total failure. I’ve wondered on numerous occasions if I had missed my calling.
However, I’ve learned a lot since then, and I’ve drawn new conclusions. One of the biggest learning lessons comes down to this – having a written digital marketing strategy (marketing plan) is CRITICAL to maximizing success in minimum time. Next, I have a coach who helps me stay on track.
Today, I’m going to list a few of the top reasons why having a digital marketing strategy is priority #1.
Who Will this Help Most?
There are a few types of people this post will be most helpful to:
- Solopreneurs who are just getting started, or have an idea but not sure on how to move forward
- Small business owners who have no plan at all
- Coaches, authors, speakers and other self-employed professionals who understand and embrace the value of planning, but want to shortcut the learning curve and get up to speed quickly
If you’re wired to be an entrepreneur, that can be a tremendous blessing… if it’s managed well. Not managed, it can become a curse.
One of the reasons my clients love me, is my ability to come up with creative ideas to help them solve their problems. Recently, I took new client through a Marketing Strategy Session. Here’s what she had to say in response to that session:
The coaching that is provided is top notch! The proven digital marketing strategies I received are essential for the growth of my business. I highly recommend the strategy session with 48 Days Marketing Coach to all solopreneurs.
—Regina Roberts of Events by Saving Grace
The challenge is, the same gift that creates that kind of 5-star experience… if not managed properly… will lead me down one rabbit trail after another.
It’s one of the main reasons having a written digital marketing strategy is critical. (I have nothing against non-digital strategies, they oftentimes compliment the digital strategies well if done properly.)
However, if we take the time to clarify S.M.A.R.T. Goals, and then map out a written strategy to achieve those goals, that written plan is my first level of accountability. In the corporate world, we call it a job description!
The next step is to invite some human accountability, but that step is premature if there’s no plan to be accountable to in the first place.
Ok… let’s dive into the specifics of a digital marketing strategy.
The Definition of a Marketing Strategy
I want to start by differentiating between sales and marketing.
Selling is what you do when you’re 1-on-1 on the phone or face-to-face with a prospect.
Marketing is what brings a business owners into a sales conversation.
The best marketing accomplishes the following objectives:
- Creates awareness and interest among your ideal prospects
- Pre-qualifies prospects
- Motivates prospects to take action
- Pre-disposes your prospects to do business with you instead of your competitors
A marketing strategy is the collection of strategies and tactics a solopreneur/brand uses to achieve their marketing big picture goals and objectives. It takes into account the 3 step process all buyers go through (awareness, consideration, and decision) – especially when making buying decisions where there is a big-ticket purchase involved. (If you have a coaching program, or offer any kind of service where the price tag is $497 or higher – I consider that a big-ticket.)
Small business owners and solopreneurs who don’t have a clear understanding of the sales process cannot possibly compete against competitors who’ve done the market research and understand the pain points at each of those crossroads.
Here are the 3 stages I’ve been referring to:
How we speak to a prospect while they’re researching (Awareness Stage) differs from when they’ve named their problem (Consideration Stage). One thing that differentiates average life coaches from excellent ones is… they do the research necessary to understand how the buyer’s conversation and perspective changes at each stage. They then create messaging that let’s their ideal buyer know they understand their problem(s).
An effective marketing strategy starts with doing the market research to gain insight to what kind of content needs to be created for every stage, and where it needs to be delivered in order for the intended audience to get it.
Social Media Marketing: Should it Be a Priority?
Some solopreneurs are still waking up to the significant impact of social media marketing, and why it should be a core component of a digital marketing strategy today.
Recently, Forbes conducted research to see how consumers engage with different organizations and businesses such as retail, hospitality, entertainment and financial business through social media networks. They found that a whopping 81 percent of respondents admitted that recommendations and posts from family and friends directly impacted on their buying decisions, while 78% of people said that social media posts of companies influence their buying decisions.
Take a look at the following infographics that illustrate that point.
While this illustrates the importance of a social media strategy, that’s one component of a digital marketing strategy. There are other considerations when developing a comprehensive marketing plan.
So, Where Do You Start When Developing a Digital Marketing Strategy?
All effective marketing strategies begin with market research. The proper research informs every major element that makes up our marketing strategy:
- Market – we need the pulse of our ideal consumer.
- Message – the better we understand the market, the more on-point our message will be.
- Media – we should communicate our message using media we know our market uses on a frequent basis.
I’ve heard scores of people say things like, “Google Adwords doesn’t work”, or “Facebook Ads don’t work”, or “direct mail doesn’t work”.
The problem is… they attempted to run ads (often times) without really understanding their target market. What didn’t work was their approach – but they blamed their failure on media choice.
Market research starts with the objective to understand the customer. It’s what’s known as a Customer Avatar, or Buyer Persona. Here’s what we need to know about them:
- Goals and Values
- Sources of Information
- Challenges and Pain Points
- Objections and Role in the Purchase Process
Gaining insight in those critical areas will provide the answers we need to create an effective marketing strategy both online and offline.
Once the preliminary research is complete, one of the most ideal places to put that data to work for most solopreneurs is in building an email list. Once someone is aware of a brand, the next logical step in the sale process for many solopreneurs is to begin building a list.
Building an email list gets easier when you know what challenges and pain points your audience is facing.
If you or someone you know needs to dig in and do the market research necessary to sharpen up the rest of the tools in the marketing toolbox, I’ve created a resource to help. Every one of the five areas I revealed above is covered in the List Building Worksheet. If you’re ready to work smarter and not harder, click the link below to download your copy now.