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'No-Nonsense' planning for online success!

30 August 2011

Strategy is uncool, doing is where it’s at! The problem is that ‘unguided doing’ commonly leads to outcomes that are unidentifiable with success. To quote Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”. So what if we could ‘DO STRATEGY’ that resulted in action rather than the production of another dust-gathering report? What if planning for online success (or improvement) included actions with teeth and real value? Wouldn’t that be ‘no-nonsense’ and something worth spending a little intellectual effort on?

Practical planning
In July on Ruby Connection, I discussed where online marketing thinking should begin. Simple, but often forgotten, questions that boil down to … who (your audience), what (interactions), where (online locations), why (incentives) and how (process). In this follow-up piece, my intention is to provide two practical activities that are effective in steering online activity in the right direction.

Audience selection
Your online communication has multiple audiences (prospects, customers, members, staff, media, public and so on). Pick the most important one. If you initially target your activity to this group, then check back to see that it covers secondary group needs as well, you will have an easier pathway and always know that your primary audience is covered.

Is your audience the same as you?
Does the audience know your offer, your language, have your education and fit in the same socio-economic group? If you said yes, change your mind. Your result will be better if you say NO! Given your audience is not you, you will achieve more success if you tailor the approach to a personality (or number of them) that fit your target audience better.

Alison Andrews is a 38-year-old professional. After a number of years in a large corporate, Alison has set up her own consultancy and employed some support staff. Experienced in business consulting and working with clients, Alison is looking to apply this knowledge to the online marketing requirements of her emerging business in order to win new customers and promote services online.

Yes, I am writing this piece for Alison (not her real name), not for me. Even if you are not Alison, this ‘personality’ is a better fit for this article than the default position of writing for myself as the audience. Pick a photo off the web, write a fake bio, and use this (or a few if necessary) as your imagined audience. Refine your artificial ‘audience bio’ as you learn more about your real market, but always keep your imaginary friends ready to review everything that you do online so that you keep producing outcomes that resonate for your principle audience(s). Post your draft bios here for a little diversionary fun.

Business lexicon
I only have space for one more ‘practical tool’ for today. Language is where the vast majority of our exchange of meaning occurs. What is your online language tool-kit … your ‘business lexicon’. Today’s second challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to go and gather all of the words and phrases that mean something to your business (brands, industry jargon, products, services, competitors, marketing terminology and anything else). Now sort it into a meaningful structure (degree of relevance, your desire to own the terminology in the market, how discretely it connects to your business). Think of this as rearranging your home … there is no ‘best’ answer but some logic exists. Now fit this to your ‘Alison’ … what words would she use, what would she search upon, what would you then use to sell, make your argument or introduce concepts and benefits to her? If you arrange them by ‘discovery terms’, ‘messaging building terms’, and ‘jargon’, then you have a very useful resource that we will come back to as we discuss building online properties in future ‘no-nonsense’ articles.

Tell me about your ‘audience bios’ and ‘business lexicon’ and whether you found the process useful in planning for online success.

David is Director of Technology and Services at 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 Twitter @drwarwick