A business that does not plan by default has already planned to fail, this is more so when a digital business is implemented without the prior discipline of business planning.
I prefer writing a business plan on my own computer using Microsoft or Apple as opposed to third party software.
A business plan is not a static document and it is much easier to own, edit and personalize when it is written from your own computer, especially if you are planning on seeking debt, equity or angel finance.
Although the first section in a business plan is an executive summary, it is usually harder to write this section in the beginning of the dialogue.
I usually find it easier to write the executive summary after completing the financial plan, that is, the section that details the analysis of a sales forecast, cash flow projection, projected income statement and balance sheet.
I find it much easier to then write the summary and then to proceed with the fleshing out the text based sections of the plan.
A summary gives details of the concept, the cost to the financier, the profit expected to be realized and people that can make this happen.
After settling the summary it is time to give a description of the business. This describes what business the business will be in, will it be selling physical products through Shopify or offering search optimization services.
The vision, mission, values, company strengths and core competencies, target market (brief mention) and management expertise should be discussed as an overview.
It is important that the planner's experience and skills are well aligned to the digital model being planned, content marketing and authority will be much easier to achieve than when the marketer has to rely on research to produce content.
Furthermore, a thorough analysis of the opportunity must be communicated through the section on business analysis.
This section encompasses going through the exercise of elucidating how the business will be impacted by the contextual environment characterized by influences in politics, society, regulation, technology, economy and environment.
Also, industry trends must be discussed through the analysis of Porters 5 forces, also known as the transactional environment. The digital marketer needs to familiarize himself with industry specific reports and know the current best practices in the business.
I know it may sound boring and academic but this exercise is vital for success. The forces are: threat of new entrants, threat of substitution, powerful buyers, powerful suppliers and competitive intensity among current competitors.
Lastly, the business analysis must cover a swot analysis, this is a review of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that the business currently have.
If you plan to offer SEO services then you need to keep a close eye on Google and what industry leaders such as Moz are doing and how you can compete given the scope of the swot capacity of the business.
Moreover, a business plan entails a well layered business strategy. This involves the product positioning strategy or competitive strategy, find out and understand what others are good at and differentiate your offerings with your skill set and experience.
Business strategy also involves a description of your product and features that will be your content online. Also this section has to discuss the product benefits, procurement, distribution, customer care, competitor analysis, brand strategy and pricing.
Furthermore, (iam not done yet) the business plan has to detail the strategic marketing process. This is the part that can be summarized into customer acquisition.
It involves defining the target market, market or niche research, possible marketing channels to be used, the proposed marketing campaign, marketing budget and marketing controls.
Additionally, the digital marketer has to mention how his staffing needs are going to be organized. This involves a clear value statement, the organogram for the first 2 months of the business, training and development.
I usually do the financial plan first, however, it is worth mentioning that the financial plan must be included.
This covers what the start-up and operating capital would be, important assumptions; especially about things the business can't control such as the economic impact and tax regulations.
Additionally, the financial plan has to include capital cost items and the various budgets and forecasts.
I know this may seem like a daunting task, but I promise you it not as hard as it looks and it worth its weight in gold for any business owner.
Don't outsource your business plan do it your-self and consult when necessary.
The traditional 4p's offline marketing has evolved into digital marketing as more and more technological breakthroughs force marketers to take their offers and brands online in response to an increasing new consumer behavior trends introduced by improvements in technology. Whether you are online as a continuation of your offline business or you are hunting for the internet gold through many of the proven models such as ecommerce(Shopify), freelancing(Upwork), affiliate marketing(AdSense), information product(eBook), software product(WordPress plugin) you need to be aware of the best practices in digital marketing.
Iam a big stickler to business planning, amidst the clutter of new technology and Google Panda or Penguin noise, a business owner has to know what it is that he wants to achieve and have a blue print for achieving it. Business planning provides a blue print of steps to take and a way of benchmarking best practices to achieve continuous achievement. Without a business plan the digital marketer is predisposed to wallow in confusion and cannibalization from every new shiny object of 'what to do' online. A thoroughly constructed business plan should be the starting point of every business owner pursuing or intending to pursue customer acquisition online. A business plan helps the business owner to identify and adopt only those digital marketing practices that best fit the brand and swot analysis outcomes identified.
The best digital marketing company will not be the least beneficial if the business owner is not conversant with the base pricing and mark up that determine the bottom line nor have a clear appreciation of the environmental influences that can make or break your business as identified by Porters 5 forces. A business plan will not only save you lots of money but confusion and despair, it takes the sting out of the trial and error pitfall. So take time to figure things out by going through the exercise of business planning.
Furthermore, the market place is characterized by clutter from many competing brands and offerings, a digital marketer has to implement a recognition system where-by his business and product values and symbols can be readily recognized by the target market. Branding is the next step a digital strategist should consider. All interactions with the market must continuously preach the same message and symbolism that will build an instant awareness and knowledge of the owner's offerings. Think of Google and immediately the words search engine, online and even Penguin come up. Building a brand online basically involves figuring out what you stand for and continuously communicating that to your clients on a regular basis every time you interact; it needs to be deliberate and aimed at the mind of the consumer.
A digital strategy seeks to acquire leads and customers online. Customers come online in search for content and Google is the deal maker. Website design and development is the packaging of an online product, content must be housed within the parameters of a domain name, hosting service and blogging platform. The best website is one that tows the budget line and able to serve branding and content objectives. There are many 'free' third party website design sites that promises a push button service to designing a site, don't be deceived into 'just doing' without careful consideration of the impact of the platform to your brand and offers. For example, many of these 'free' third party website design services do not allow businesses the flexibility to brand, monetize and process content in such a way that it is maximized to the target market. The best approach is to design your own website from scratch with a platform such as WordPress or outsource a professional from freelancing sites such as Fiverr to custom design for you. You need to have full control of your domain name and brand without the encroachment of the web design platform brand. Additionally, be able to use add-on features like plugins and themes such as the ones provided by WordPress to streamline your content management activities and ensure that you have full control of your hosting back end and service to prevent service black outs and bottle necks.
Furthermore, search engines such as Bing love content that solve searchers needs. Your content need to be relevant to your niche needs, it needs to be unique, fresh and compelling. Don't make a mistake of going into a niche that does not complement your skills and experience. If you do, ensure that you familiarize yourself with the market through research. Authority can be discerned and searchers quickly build a rapport with providers that know what they are talking about. Search engines measures a lot things in order to rank a website: the time a visitor spend on the site, the amount of social shares, comments, subscriptions after reading content and so on. Consumable content is the key to ranking higher on organic listings. It also plays a vital role in achieving low cost per clicks when pursuing a paid advertising customer acquisition exercise. Therefore, ensure that your digital strategy content is matched to your experience or skill and your brand will grow.
Moreover, closely linked to content mastery is leads generation. The belief that once the site is up consumers will come is a myth. The best website is pretty useless without incoming continuous streams of traffic. A digital strategist has to be a master at generating targeted leads from activities in content optimization and AdWords campaigns. The best AdWords platform to use will depend on the budget and the fit in terms of the network's target market demographics and psychographics. Highly targeted leads culminates in high conversions, the key is to aim at a highly responsive market at low cost. When I constructed my business plan for the ecommerce business I was able to identify that the best traffic platform for the business will be Facebook ads, Facebook ads had the best fit in terms of the demographics and psychographics at very low cost per click. I was able to calculate the volume of orders I could generate and the conversions based on very conservatives cost per conversion values.
Mobile proliferation is causing disruption and forcing businesses to response in order to retain their market share and keep their clients happy. Statista indicate an adoption figure of 5 billion mobile user by 2017. Mobile marketing growth has birthed new consumer behavior principles. It is incumbent for businesses to understand and serve customers utilizing these new methods. Pre purchase activities are increasingly centered on smart phone browsing with social media being the chief go-to place. Although a majority of consumers still prefer shopping online via a desktop or laptop, research indicates a great majority peruse sites during their pre purchase stage with a smartphone device. An internet marketer has to ensure that his site is mobile optimized for all devices. Mobile and tablet traffic has increased since 2014 and desktop has decreased, Facebook mobile ad placement has one of the best low cost per click, as low as $0.20. You leave a lot of money on the table if you don't mobile optimize your site, this is because people are more likely to leave a site that is not mobile optimized. Think with Google is a useful tool to test your site to ensure that your site works well on mobile and other devices, this service gives a score out of 100 and comes with a detailed report of what you should fix. Go to http://testmysite.thinkwithGoogle.com
Moreover, an internet marketer must understand the process involved in courting a customer. It is a fact that customers are skeptical and infected with an extreme form of online attention deficit disorder. Marketers have a window of about 5 seconds on a text or video sales letter and about 5 minutes on a webinar to capture the attention of a consumer. Therefore, an incisive digital strategy has to incorporate permission marketing. Permission marketing involves the process of taking a customer through a deliberate sales process to ensure that the coldness of a marketing program is converted to a warm market. A customer has to like, know and trust a marketer before opening his purse. That is why digital marketers make use of the freemium model to introduce prospects to their offerings, for instance, a free webinar or $1 access to training materials or software testing with basic features activated. Take consumers through steps and follow up with them by enrolling them into your newsletter hosted by any one of the autoresponder services online; such as Mailchimp, Active Campaign and so on.
Furthermore, a digital strategy process must be tested, split tested and optimized to ensure maximum effectiveness. An effective marketer has to know how to fix an underperforming funnel. Most search engines and hosting services come with a complementary web analytics function that help marketers to understand the behind the scenes activities that govern their sites. Marketers has to be able to interpret the data compiled in these reports and spear head necessary changes. Conversely, a digital marketer must be able to measure the effectiveness of his entire funnel, from prospecting to after sales service stages. Services offered by Conversion Fly are beneficial.
An effective online marketing strategy is centered on certain essential skills, it behooves any digital marketer to continually learn to increase his chances of success.