“12 Steps to Begin Developing and Executing a Basic Digital Marketing Strategy”
I sat there thinking … I need to grow my freelance consulting business. How the hell do I get the word out? Tell people I’m open for business? As I began developing and executing my marketing strategy, it came to me. There are businesses out with the same challenge. As I build my strategy, why wouldn’t I share it? Why not be transparent, share, gain feedback, and in the mean time … potentially help them out too. Not to mention, there are plenty of experts out there. I’d love to hear from them too.
So, here we go! This is my first iteration of “12 Steps to Begin Developing and Executing a Basic Digital Marketing Strategy” on a limited or even no budget. If this helps one person, then I’ll consider my first "value add" blog a success!
1. Define the Problem – What problem or challenges are you trying to solve? Even if it’s an existing industry or business, dive deep, understand, and define the problem your customers are facing. Take a step back and look at it from all angles. Example: House Cleaning – Most people would say, the problem is my customers want a clean house. True. What else? Keep asking yourself, what else? Safe, fast, reliable, eco-friendly, etc.
2. Develop a Set of Hypotheses – Hypothesis #1 – Define your target customer. Hypothesis # 2 – Define your customer wants, needs, desires, and nice to haves. Hypothesis # 3 – Create a minimum viable product that will match your customers needs. Move to step 3 and test those hypotheses.
3. Analyze the competition - What services are they selling, how are they marketing it, what's their value prop, what are their strengths, and what are their weaknesses?
4. Conduct Voice of Customer (VOC) – Develop a few questions to gain VOC from your customers and test your hypotheses. The best way to find out what your customer needs is to simply ask them. Step outside your door or go to social media and ask some potential customers questions. Then listen, don’t sell. Clarify, dig as deep as they allow without annoying them. Ask “what if” questions to find out if you have a viable MVP. Ask them why they aren’t currently using a product or service like yours? What would they need in order to purchase? Focus on their needs, but listen for their wants and desire too. Analyze what you hear and divide it up into the 3 categories – What do your customers absolutely need? What else do they want? What is a nice to have?
5. Develop Outcomes – Based on the above, develop customer-desired outcomes. An outcome is the measurable result a customer will experience when they purchase. Will they see a 15% increase in productivity? 10% reduction in operating expense? It’s the total value and experience you provide. If we use the cleaning service example above, it’s not just a clean house. It’s the full experience that provides value to your client. What if you not only provided a clean house, but you also provided a one-time free home organization assessment? That would be fairly easy to do, just link up with a local home organization consultant. They’d probably say yes to it because then you get them in front of more clients. Free for you, free for your customer, added value and a differentiated experience. Understanding, marketing, and selling based on customer outcomes will set you apart from your competition. Once you develop those outcomes, design your offering and value prop as a full experience.
6. Create Customer Personas – Understand your resource, product, and service limitations. Use your information from above and define your target customer. Be specific. Don’t try and service the entire market if you are just starting out. Find a solid niche. Prepare to target and serve them very well. If you succeed here, your business will continue to grow and expand into larger markets with more offerings.
7. Website - Create a simple and free website. About Section, Services Section, Blog (with email sign up / opt-in), and Contact Page. Use a company like Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly. They have easy to use template and are fairly intuitive. There are also many different strategies for setting up your website, I won't go into those. In general make your sections fun, show some personality, talk about your customer's challenges, maybe some relevant, fun, or creative statistics, talk about the outcomes your customers seek, and how plan to surpass them.
8. Create Content - Use the info you gathered in 1-4 above to create valuable content on your website. Show some personality, talk about your customer's challenges, maybe some relevant, fun, or creative statistics, talk about the outcomes your customers seek, and how plan to surpass them.
9. Social Media - Connect your blog to Facebook & LinkedIn plus, any other social media sites where you can target your audience. Create valuable content they will enjoy consuming. Leverage sites that have existing traffic. Some examples would be YouTube videos, writing articles on your industry, providing advice, sharing infographics, and retweeting a great link to an awesome article. In its simplest form, you create and share content that your target audience (prospects & customers) finds valuable and wants to consume (valuable is the key word). By providing content to your audience, they become aware of your company, products / services and begin coming to you (inbound marketing). This will take some sweat equity, but for the most part, it will be free. Now, content strategy is a completely different topic, but think of it this way - 30% of what you share should be content you create (videos, pictures, infographics, etc). 60% should be content you gather from other sources that is valuable to your audience, and 10% is calls to action ... trying to promote / sell your actual product and / or service offering. There are other ratios out there, but that one can get you started.
10. Email / Newsletter – Sign up with MailChimp or a service like it. They have free packages. Use your email opt-in to provide a your value-added content via a newsletter or email marketing. You can even add coupons or other offerings too. Don’t spam or sell your customers info!
11. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - I'd only research this only a little bit, but assuming this is only a local service for now, I'd focus on keywords (Google Keyword Planner) and Local SEO techniques. SEO continues to be important, but keep it simple at first, build, and learn. Then apply the more advanced techniques as you go.
12. Use Your Network - Turn all of your friends & family into your word of mouth marketers! I'm sure they want to see you succeed! Oh, remember all of those customers you spoke with in the beginning? If you get their email addresses or contact info, you can always send them a simple, quick message that says, "Hello, we're listened to you and are open for business." Provide your contact info and website.
Provide me your thoughts and feedback. What did I miss? Each step is linked to deeper information. The more we discuss, engage, and interact … the better these steps can get. If this helped you, share it with your friends and network. Feel free to sign up to my newsletter for more valuable articles.