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A 'no-nonsense' approach to Online Marketing

04 July 2011

Step away from the social media platform, website builder or email marketing system. If you were about to build a new office for your business, your first-step wouldn’t be to grab a hammer. Even if you were only fixing your office (read as: fix your digital marketing – we’re all analogies here), your first step still shouldn’t be a hammer (unless it is to whack the computer).

You know your business
Improving your online marketing should start with YOU and not with technology! What do you want to achieve, who do you need to engage, how do you intend to succeed, and what approach will suit your objectives best? These are business questions that should guide action. Don’t let platforms, designs, hyped-up trends or even ‘the message’ drive your strategy. That would be the ‘tail wagging the dog’.

Platforms outnumber business models
Online Marketing was relatively simple a decade ago, you built a website that ‘stood-in’ for your business and possibly engaged in some email marketing and search promotion. Today there are a litany of social media platforms, measurement tools, blogs, mobile sites, mobile applications, rich media angles and website options (and millions of TLA’s – Three Letter Acronyms). So why is everyone talking in jargon about platforms, tools and software instead of strategies, objectives and approaches. There are probably less permutations of business approaches than there are combinations of online delivery options, so why not start with what you know?

The right questions: who, what, where, why, when, how?
Who do you want to communicate with? What do you want them to do? Where are the best places to connect? Why will they gladly do what you ask? When should this communication and exchange happen? How will the process work for all involved?

Too easy!
Sounds obvious, right? Common sense you say! Well the thing about common sense is that it isn’t that common. Large organisations with big online budgets and highly paid strategists get this stuff wrong every single day. Obvious, then answer the six questions above for your business, right now, off the cuff. Got that far, then make sure you have the MOST valid answer and the root fundamental causes, not just superficial effects. When you have the absolute root answer and it doesn’t change every time you ask, then you have just worked out your approach to online marketing (and probably your business strategy). Now correctly deploying all of the online channels you need to supercharge your business will be a doddle (and the exploration topics of future articles). Eventually you can grab that hammer!

David is CEO of online consultancy Veridian Media, Director of Services for web agency bwired and Head of Social Media at boutique advertising agency Starship. David has an MBA from Melbourne Business School and is a regular speaker, writer and consultant on digital strategy, social media, online marketing and technology. Email david@veridiansm.com Twitter @drwarwick

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5 comments

  • Melinda Mayne

    Melinda Mayne 7 years ago

    In terms of online marketing, I wonder if the best place to start is with your customers/clients. Who are they? Where do they go on the web? What are they looking for? What keywords are they using to find products/services like yours? What is the best way to connect with them? Then have a look at the various internet marketing strategies (search engine optimisation, social media marketing, pay per click advertising, local marketing, forum posting, email marketing etc etc) to see what will work best for you and your business. At the end of the day, all internet marketing strategies are either time consuming or expensive. As David says, gone are the wonder years of the 90's where you could whack up a website, the search engine would pay attention and the masses would flock! Small businesses need a clear IM strategy that are manageable, sustainable, and which can deliver a high return on investment.

  • Danielle MacInnis

    Danielle MacInnis 8 years ago

    David really like the premise of this article. Too many small businesses look at the tactics of having a profile online with out asking some key questions about who they are, what do they stand for and who are the customers that they care about most. Strategy before tactics, right?Many small businesses see that latest \"new shiny object\" and think they should be using it. In true the time I spend as a consultant uncovering small businesses true story, purpose and ideal customers pays off 10 fold in the execution of marketing tactics like email, web and social media. Thanks for raising it as a topic!

  • David Warwick

    David Warwick 8 years ago

    I fully agree with Tracey's view on measurement. In fact the forthcoming fifth topic in this 'no-nonsense' series will be 'measuring online outcomes'. I could of course give the whole schedule away but where would be the fun in that. Of course if people add anything else I missed in response to Beate's open question, I could always end up with a different order. As Tracey said, make sure you know \"where you currently stand\". Thanks for the comments so far.

  • Tracey Brown

    Tracey Brown 8 years ago

    It is also important to think about measuring your online success. Whatever activity you do online, you'll want to know whether it's working for you (or not)So knowing where you currently stand today (eg number of visits to your website, number of email addresses you have in your database etc) is important, then measure the core metrics over time to see what's improving.

  • Beate Duesterwald

    Beate Duesterwald 8 years ago

    David suggests important questions that you should ask yourself before starting to improve your online marketing - would you add anything else?