How to 'Formulate A Plan' for a Successful Internet Marketing Campaign

Lesson #17--FORMULATING A PLAN

You are welcome to our Internet Income Course. This is lesson 17 aimed at bringing out the ins and outs of starting and running a profitable online business in today's fluid global market by breaking down important principles using simple English. Course author, George Little, continues to reveal tips, real-world advice, and in-depth, step-by-step instructions on setting up your Internet-based business. Read the 16th lesson here.

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
We will be covering many different techniques and strategies for Internet Marketing in this course and covering each in some detail. Before we launch into it, let me take a moment here to stress an important general principle one more time. Perhaps the most important principle of all--the need for a plan.

SO MANY OPTIONS

As we dig into the specifics of Internet Marketing, you will see (if you have not already experienced it), that the multiple layers of options available to you for Internet Marketing can appear mind-boggling. To publish and establish your online identity, you can pick from many different types of Websites, employing many different tools, on many different platforms, from many different hosts. You can choose to blog and, if so, you have seemingly infinite choices for the type, platform, theme, and content of your blog. You can write your own blog posts or find content from other sources.

You must pick from over a hundred social media sites the ones that work best for you. You can choose to manage your own social media accounts or hire someone to do it for you. You have several different options regarding software to assist you in managing your social media accounts. There are infinite ways to combine these strategies into your own unique approach to publishing.

In addition to publishing, you can choose to advertise. You have several choices for the type of ads you run. You can select free or paid advertising or a combination of both. With paid ads, you can select from pay per impression, pay per click, or pay per results. Also, you must choose whether to place your ads on social media, on search engines and Websites, or on some other platform. If you go with search engines, you can pick from Google, Yahoo, Bing or many others to distribute your ads. If you choose social media to place your ads, which site should you chose? Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, and many others will accept your ads. If you bid for ads, how do you calculate the amount of your bid on each chosen keyword or key phrase. How do you decide which keywords to use?

There are many choices at all levels

The most important decision you will make, however, is your choice not to become overwhelmed by all the different choices--not to become paralyzed by the maze of options from which you must choose. If you want to succeed (and we all do!), you will make the best choices you can from the information available within the time available. You will formulate the best plan possible and take steps every day to put that plan in action. You will not allow yourself to become overwhelmed or paralyzed. At times, you will speed forward with the grace and speed of a magnificent Triple Crown winner. Other times, you will only plod forward like a work horse through thick clay. But, at all times, you will keep moving forward. The choice to keep moving forward, no matter what, is the most important choice you will ever make.

HAVE A PLAN!

To always keep moving forward, you need a plan. Without a plan you lack direction. While a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, that journey will never be completed if your subsequent steps constantly change direction. Each step must take you closer to your goal.

In its simplest sense, formulating a plan is choosing a destination and mapping out the best route to get there. The better the plan, the shorter the distance to your goal. Just as in traveling across land, you may encounter hazards diverting you from the straightest path to your destination. Take detours when you are forced to, but find your way around or through the hazards and stay true to your path in the long run.

Your plan needs to be realistic. Psychology informs us that frustration is a factor of expectations. If our expectations are unrealistic, they will not be achieved. You become frustrated when your expectations are not achieved and it makes you want to quit. To avoid frustration, your overall plan should be broken down into small, discrete steps--interim goals that are reasonably obtainable. You should plan big, but that big plan should be realistic and it should have steps that are obtainable in the short term. There is a feeling of satisfaction each time you successfully complete a step, however small that step may seem in the big picture. Step by step is how you reach your goal.

While it is important to have a plan and to stick with that plan, it is also important to be flexible when available data compels you to make adjustments. You have to find the right balance. If you are always readjusting your plan, you are never really moving forward. If you never adjust your plan, you are dooming yourself to repeat actions that do not produce results. Be prepared to make adjustments when it is clear they need to be made, but do not adjust your plan on a whim.

What should be in your Plan?

Your plan should start with a list of your major goals. Once you have listed your major personal goals, consider the five goals of building Internet traffic, listed in Lesson 3 of this revised course. Under each goal you should list objectives for that goal. Then, under your objectives you should list the methods you will use to accomplish them.

You are certainly not limited to the five major goals of Internet traffic building. Add your own personal goals as well.

Start by Finding Yourself

Recall that the first goal of building Internet traffic is "utilizing effective branding." The first step in moving toward this goal is formulating the best way to present yourself. As we discussed in the earlier lesson, that requires some serious introspection. It requires clearly identifying your goals. It requires recognition of your strengths and your weaknesses. Your brand guides your plan. Given your strengths and weaknesses, what products or services can you best promote? What skills do you have that will be useful? What other resources will be required? How will you profit from that promotion? As you discover the answers to these questions, include them in your plan. (See Lesson 4 of this Revised Internet Income Course for more guidance on branding.)

Identify your Target Market

Your plan should include a description of your target market. You have to know who your potential customers are before you can attempt to reach them. Your ideal customer is someone who truly needs your product or service.

There's an old saying used to describe the ideal salesperson. He or she is the one who can sell snow to an Eskimo...But, hold on...While this saying is cute (and it is entertaining to imagine someone so persuasive), I am forced to wonder why anyone would want to sell snow to an Eskimo? Not to be a downer, but I have to wonder what would happen after the snow is delivered and the persuasive salesperson is long gone. At some point, I suspect, the Eskimo will wise up and it will not result in repeat sales or recommendations. Thus, was it really worth the effort to make this sale. If you are selling snow, an Eskimo should not be considered within your target market. An Eskimo doesn't truly need your product. If you sold snow, your ideal customer (if there is one) would more likely own a ski resort in some location where the weather was erratic. While my example is a little silly, hopefully you get the point.

Once you identify the group of people who truly need your product, you begin to analyze other characteristics these people have: where they live, what types of businesses they run, what other activities interest them, what their cultural tendencies may be, what their social preferences are, etc., etc. In your plan, you want to have a description of as many characteristics as you can determine for your target market.

Next, you want to devise effective ways to best reach this group of people. For example, if you are trying to reach people interested in buying snow, you would be better served to advertise on a Colorado ski resort owners association Website than to advertise on a Northern Canadian Website.

Get to Know your Competitors

In addition to a description of your brand and a description of your target market, your plan should also identify your major competitors. You should study your competitors to see what works for them and what doesn't. Find them by looking for Websites and advertisements trying to reach the target market you have identified. See how they do it and try to ascertain how successful they have been. Learn from their successes and from their mistakes. For example, if you were selling snow, while you might be impressed with a competitor who had sold to an Eskimo (and you may feel competitive, wanting to show him or her that you are just as good), shouldn't you first investigate whether it was truly profitable to make that sale. If there were market statistics that quantified the total market for snow in northern Canada, it would likely consist of only that one sale. Even though that competitor made a reputation for himself with that sale, there is no remaining market to be pursued there. But, if you instead apply your efforts to cornering the Colorado ski lodge owners market, you will become far more financially successful than your competitor.

If there are other competitors for the Colorado market, observe how they attempt to reach that market. Try to ascertain what works for them and what doesn't. Plan to use your own version of the techniques that work, while discarding the ones that do not work.

Measuring your own Successes and Failures

Your plan should also outline how you will measure your own successes and failures. What tracking will you do? What tools will you use to do that tracking? How will you store the data that results from this tracking? How will you analyze the data? How will you define success in terms you can measure by your data? These are all questions that need to be addressed in your plan.

It is easy to keep up with how much money you spend, but you need to value your time expended as well. Keep logs of your expenditures of both time and money. From these logs, you can determine your costs. Also, of course, keep logs of all income that you receive. The income minus the expenses is your 'return." In this way, you can keep track of your "Return on Investment" (ROI). Your ROI is the ultimate measure of your success.

Be aware that most people starting out have a negative ROI for quite some time. This is quite normal even for those who ultimately succeed. Your goal should be to have a constantly increasing ROI over time. As will all things, it will not be a smooth steady increase--you will have backslides--but your goal is for your ROI to increase over time in the long run. The amount of time you can afford to be in backslide before achieving a positive ROI should also be included in your plan. If, at some point, it doesn't look like you are going to make it on time, you should consider revising your plan significantly. As long as you are on course to meet your goals within your time frame, however, stick to your plan, making only small refinements instead of major changes.

How to Outline Your Plan

Once you have considered all of the things we have discussed thus far in this lesson, you need to write your plan in a document. After you have recorded your thoughts and the results of your research on all of the issues discussed above, you need to create an action outline. There are many formats you could use to do this. My preferred format is to have a list of goals at the top level. On the next level, develop a list of objectives (sub-goals, if you will) for each goal. Then, for each objective, you need a list of methods. Methods are the means you will use to obtain your objectives. Method can be further broken down into strategies, with specific tactics listed for each strategy.

You can use any of many other formats if you are more comfortable with them, so long as it outlines a clear plan of action.

If you are familiar with "mind mapping" software, you may want to create a visual map of your outline. Freemind is free software that allows you to do this. You can also just do this with pen and paper. A visual map can be both fun and motivating to use. Also, you may want to consider using Google Keep, Microsoft OneNote, Evernote, or some of the other popular note keeping software to make your action list interactive. These can be very helpful in keeping up with what you need to do and when you need to do it.

Avoid Being a Perpetual Planner

While you must have a plan, do not allow working on that plan to become your excuse to never get anything done. We have all known people excited about their large, detailed plan for great success. But, if the next time we speak with them, they have another, completely different, large, detailed plan for their great success, we become less impressed. When it continues to happen over a long period of time, we begin to think of them as losers. Their plans keep getting bigger and better, but they never do anything but plan. They spend their entire life planning and never get around to doing anything with those plans.

Planning can be exciting. It makes you feel empowered and optimistic. That is good, of course. But, don't become addicted to planning to the point you never take action to carry out your plan. As we discussed above, come up with the best plan you can in a reasonable time and then TAKE ACTION on that plan. The feeling you get from taking steps to obtain your goals is even better than the feeling you get from planning. And, the results are far more rewarding!

CONCLUSION
We will be discussing many different options for Internet Marketing in the remainder of this course and they may at times seem overwhelming. They will not overwhelm you, however, if you have a solid approach and a good plan. While I will do what I can to present things in a simple, understandable manner in this course, it will be your solid approach and your good plan that keeps you on the right course--keeps you moving forward.

In preparing your plan, you need to identify your goals. You need to consider how you will brand yourself. You need to investigate who your target market will be. You need to investigate and become familiar with your competitors and learn from their successes and failures. You need to include in your plan how you will measure and evaluate your results. You should outline your plan in a formal document to which you often refer as you move forward.

You do not want to become a "perpetual planner." Rather, you want to quickly and efficiently develop a working plan within a reasonable amount of time. Then, you should Take Action on that plan. There is software available to help you outline your action lists and there are software and services available to help you track your results. You should always keep moving forward.

WHAT'S COMING NEXT
In our next lesson, we will guide you through starting your own blog. Read the next lesson here: Starting Your Own Blog.

Author
By George Little, Panhandle On-Line, Inc. For more information on the Internet Income Course and other works and courses by George Little, see http://www.profitpropulsion.com

No comments:

Post a Comment