How to Create an Amazing Online Marketing Plan That Will Actually Get Noticed
Many contractors want to develop an online marketing plan that will result in creating an even stronger presence through content. While most understand that content marketing is a long-game and won’t provide instant results, they are taking steps today to develop a plan that will accomplish their #1 marketing goal down the road: Bring in new business consistently.
Building A Strong Online Presence: A 5-Part Series
This 5-part series is designed to lay out the steps contractors need to take to build a strong online presence. Here’s what we’ll cover:
Part 1: Develop a Plan
Part 2: Build a Solid Foundation: Website
Part 3: Mine Your Gold: Email Marketing
Part 4: Create Awesome Content: Blogging
Part 5: Share & Create Valuable Connections Online: Social Media
Part 1: Create An Amazing Online Marketing Plan
Whether you focus on traditional or digital advertising, the first step is to create a marketing plan that supports your business goals – so you need to define your goals.
Here are a few goal-related questions to help you:
- Are you trying to expand into other geographical areas or become better recognized in your current market?
- Do you want to shift your target market – say from remodeling to custom building, or from senior-living facilities to educational institutions?
- Are you trying to establish a competitive advantage over others?
- Are you launching a new product or service?
Developing a marketing plan is often considered the hardest part of marketing because it takes a lot of dedicated time to brainstorm ideas that will push your business agenda forward.
It requires to you ask, “What can I do that will move the needle forward?” and often, you don’t immediately know the answer. That’s okay. The important thing to remember is to not rush this process. Spend time on this step. You wouldn’t start a construction project without having the plans in place, so don’t do this with your marketing efforts either. If you simply launch into blogging or Facebook posting, for instance, without knowing your goals, you won’t make any significant progress.
Know Your Audience(s)
This is sometimes referred to as creating a buyer persona and is a critical, and often overlooked, aspect of your marketing plan. You need to know specifically who you are marketing to (and it isn’t just anyone who wants to pay you). Knowing your audience is about getting deeper and actually visualizing the person/couple that is your ideal customer. Some questions to guide you:
- Who is your target audience? Describe your average customer as best as you can: age, education, income, target location, cultural considerations.
- What are their pain points? This is the emotional side. What do they need? What are their concerns and motivations? What keeps them up at night?
If you sell more than one product, you may have more than one buyer persona. For example, if you are a home builder who builds 50+ active adult community homes and starter homes, the content you create for use online will reflect two different buyers.
Gather Your Materials
In this step, you will spend time gathering all of your existing marketing pieces and organizing them into one place. (DropBox is a great tool for this.) Brochures, one-pagers, presentations, case studies, job site videos, photos and articles published in trade journals are just some of the examples of the marketing materials you probably have in your inventory.
Once you have them all gathered, conduct a content audit to see what can be used (or repurposed) in your online marketing efforts to help you reach your goals, making note along the way.
When it comes to marketing, you have two resources: dollars to spend and man-hours to give. It is up to you how you want to allocate them.
A few examples:
- Hire an online marketing firm to handle it all. They will create the marketing plan and implement it.
- Outsource your content creation to a copywriter who specializes in online marketing tactics (that’s me, by the way).
- Create an editorial calendar and divvy up the content needed between team members so that everyone has a fairly equal burden. Assign one person to oversee the entire project and to keep everyone accountable and on task.
The amount of allocated resources will be different for every company, and it may even change throughout the year. For example, you may start out retaining most of the marketing plan activities in-house because construction is slow, but as business picks up, you seek out help. Or you may have a capable person on staff to do the bulk of the work, but when a special project opportunity comes up, such as a case study article in an industry trade publication, you hire a ghostwriter (me) to take on this project so your staff can continue with the other, planned activities.
A WORD TO THE WISE: This is your marketing – the activity that drives new customers to your company – so make sure you budget appropriately. Don’t make the mistake too many others do and think that someone can just “whip up a blog article” for $100. To give it some perspective, in radio advertising, $100 will buy you two or three 15-second commercials. Realistically, how effective would those be? Not very, and the same can be said for cheap content.
Good content/social media management (which we’ll discuss later in the series) costs good money. If you want it to be effective, you can’t go cheap. And if you don’t have the budget for outsourcing, the alternative is to spend time learning how to do it yourself and then dedicating time to doing it.
Measure Your Efforts & Adjust Accordingly
Regarding measurement, this quote from Content Marketing Framework explains it best: “For content marketing, it’s a long season. There are, and should be, many chances to fail – as long as we fail quickly, learn and adapt to the new surroundings.” – Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose
You need to assess your online marketing efforts on a regular and consistent basis. Don’t only do this once a year. I recommend pulling your analytics on a monthly basis.
When starting a new online marketing plan, looking at data on a monthly basis will help you establish a baseline. From there, you can begin to measure your results and make any needed adjustments.
Having said that, I encourage you to look beyond analytics and ask: What’s working? What isn’t working? What can we do differently moving forward to get the results we are looking for?
In the next installment of Building A Strong Online Marketing Presence, we’ll look at Part 2: Build a Solid Foundation: Your Website.
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