Recently, we started a new series on my recommendation for 20 things to do in 2020. Some of the things shared are things to do at the start of 2020. Particularly the things shared in the last post. While others can be done during the course of the year but are still by no means less crucial. Today we would focus on laying a solid marketing foundation in order to end up having a good year for your business. If you are just starting this series with us, then I'll advise you get caught up with the first five things I shared in the previous post. To check out part 1, click here.
6. Survey your customers or potential customers
In online marketing, your audience research forms the basis of all you do. It is the foundation for which all decisions are made. Naturally, when you are starting out if you don't have a good understanding of your audience you are simply setting yourself up for failure.
A few vital reasons why you need to find out what your customers want and what problems they are facing currently when it comes to the solution your business provides.
- It tells you what kind of product or service to create to solve their problems
- It gives you an indication of the most enticing parts of your product or service so that you can craft mouth-watering offers that are hard to resist.
- It feeds you with the exact words to use in your marketing that would help you communicate clearly with your prospective customers so that they understand the importance of the product or service you offer to them.
- It gives you a sense of the previous frustrations your audience has had in the past with similar solutions.
- The first group are the people who have bought your products or patronised your services in the past. This is a very critical group because people like them are most likely to buy from you in the future. Also, they are more likely to keep buying from you if your product or service met their needs. In a situation where you don't have your own customers maybe you are just starting your business, you can look at people who have bought complements and supplements of your products or services or people who have bought the products and services of direct competitors.
- The people who consume your products if they are different from the people who make the buying decisions. There are times when the people who have bought your product in the past are not the ones who actually use your product or service. Sometimes, these consumers may not be able to influence the actual buying decision e.g like in the case of babies. However, there are times when consumers can influence the buying decision. Like I once heard about a time when the toy brand Lego wanted to improve their products and they sent some of their representatives to observe how some of the kids used their products and ask them some questions.
- The final critical group of people that need to be considered is the people who consume content related to your product or service. They may not have invested yet in the solution you provide, but they are perfect candidates because the fact that they consume content in that space simply means that they are interested and they may be waiting for certain conditions to be right before they make a move. A perfect example of this is a real estate agent who sells houses. It would not be practical to only focus on people who have bought homes in the past because for many people the houses they buy is probably their first and they don't get to buy another one for a very long time. Also because the investment required to purchase a house is usually a hefty sum, it's usually something that people try to do a lot of research before taking the plunge.
7. Create an online marketing plan
There is a very popular quote that adequately captures the importance of a marketing plan. It's a general quote but it is so apt and relates to every aspect of our lives including marketing for our businesses.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. - Benjamin Franklin
When it comes to creating a solid marketing plan, there are many elements you can include, however, I recommend the following.
- Target audience: Clearly outline who you would be targeting with your marketing campaigns. This gives you a sense of clarity and you find out who your ideal target audience for your marketing during your audience research phase.
- Marketing Channels: Once you have decided on your audience, you need to determine what channels you would like to use to reach your audience. For the purpose of this series, I would focus only on online marketing as that is my niche. It is very vital to decide on the online channels you would use for your marketing. The channels online include social media channels like facebook, twitter, Instagram etc while online there are also search based channels like youtube, google AdWords, quora and the likes.
- Funnel: This is basically the journey you would take your prospective customer from having heard nothing about you, to making the decision and actually buying from you. Some basic questions need to be answered at this point. E.g; how would you attract the attention of your prospective customer? How would you get them to give you their contact details so you can keep marketing to them? How would you follow up with them? How would you get them to buy from you? These are the questions that need to be answered at the stage.
- Metrics: In order to track the success of your marketing efforts you need to know ahead of time what metrics you want to look out for and an estimate of the numbers you are expecting. One very important metric to check is 'return on ad spend'. This is the amount of money you make vs the amount of money you spend on ads. Most people that follow me closely know that I am a big believer in ads, however, I don't simply recommend ads for the sake of it. I recommend ads because they are a reliable and easy way to get your products and service in front of many people in a very short time and they have the potential to grow your business quickly. You wouldn't know the impact though if you aren't watching your return on ad spend closely. There are many other metrics you need to check but these are things that I share with the students of my online marketing strategy workshop and you can learn more about it by clicking on the button at the bottom of the page.
- Budget: Online marketing is a numbers game. When you have the right metrics on lockdown, and your goals are clear as well as your projections, it's easy to plan backwards from there. You can give yourself a ball pack figure for how much you need to spend in order to realise your goals.
Once you have your marketing plan on lockdown, you just need to implement it so that you can begin to see the progress you expect in your business.
8. Start taking online payments
This point is a no brainer. I want to believe that you have your online payment system set up for your business, but just in case you don't. Please tell yourself that 2020 should not meet you still asking people to send you a dm before they can get your account details or depending on unreliable delivery men to collect your cash for you, or even worse only selling offline in your store or office. Like!
Try your best to keep up with the times. Getting a payment account with one of the online payment solutions is cheap and they only charge you when you receive payments. The truth is, your business can grow a lot faster when your payment processing is not totally manual.
I understand that for certain situations like if you live in some African countries, you still have to have manual payment methods like USSD bank transfers and mobile money because of the way the financial industry is set up. However, I can say to you that it still helps to have your system for online payment setup. Apart from the fact that many people use this (50% of my business payments come in via card payments made online), it opens you up to receiving money from people outside the country.
If you are thinking of one to get started with, I'll recommend Rave by Flutterwave, this is the one I use in my business. However, there's also Paystack which I know is pretty popular as well.
9. Create a website
A website is not the first thing to create when you are starting an online business. Yes, a website is important, but I am one person that advocates closely managing your resources when you are just starting out. By resources, I am not only referring to money. In fact, money is not the primary consideration for me when I tell people not to start with building a website because there are so many cheap ways to have a website up and running. With less than $20 you can have your own website.
The main consideration is the time involved in obsessing over all the little parts that come together to create a website that helps you achieve the look and feel you want for your business.
If a website is not the first thing I recommend, why am I asking you to create a website for your business in 2020? Well, the truth is your website is one piece of real estate on the entire web that is yours. It's put in the public domain and you can completely control the narrative. That's where people who want to find out about you or your business can go to before they make any commitments to you or if they are randomly searching for stuff related to what you do.
If you aren't just starting out, I'll recommend you build a website that showcases your brand in 2020.
10. Create landing pages
Ok, calm down. I know when I said in my last point that I don't recommend people to start their businesses online by building websites, some of you had alarm bells going off in your head that just kept on asking how? how? how? don't you need a website to get people to sign up for your email list?
This naturally brings me to this point. You don't need a full-on website to get started online. However, for a serious online business, you definitely need at least a landing page and this is what I recommend you get started with.
The next logical question on the mind of many people reading this is so what's the difference between a landing page and a website. Well it's simple.
A landing page is a single web page that is focused on a single specific call to action. There are no other links that take a visitor out of that page except the visitor closes the page or takes the action that is required.
A website, on the other hand, has many links that redirect the potential customer away from the page. There is most likely a navigation menu that includes all kinds of things like a link to the about page, the services/product page, pricing page, etc
When you are planning to implement a marketing campaign, what you would need is a landing page and not necessarily a full website.
Look out for the next installation of 20 things to do in 2020. Also, tell us your biggest take away from this episode in the comment section.
If you would like to explore working with me, you can click on the link below