How to Stop an Internet Marketing Plan From Stalling: 4 Quick Tips
Stop me if this sounds familiar: excited about your new website (or new advisor, software, server, etc.), finally decide that this is going to be the year you get your act together on the Internet. It's finally time, you tell yourself, to gain those online buyers, earn that search engine position, and watch your profits double or triple... until a few weeks or months have passed by, and you're roughly back to where you started.
If you're like most business owners, the problem is one of time and focus. It's not that you didn't want to follow through on your plan, just that the day-to-day reality of running your company got in the way. Writing blog posts, optimizing pages, or working with your online marketing partner were all items that started at the top of your "to do" list, but quickly fell behind customer questions, shipping crises, and other pressing concerns.
This year can be different. Here are our top five tips for keeping your online marketing plan moving forward until it takes on a life - and revenue stream - all its own:
Know what you're trying to achieve. Too many small businesses get into online marketing because they think it's something they're supposed to do. Maybe they are, but your goals should be a lot more concrete than "being on the Internet."
Give some careful thought to what you really hope to do. Would you like to have 50 new customers, sell more of your highest-profit service package, gain buyers in a new country, for something completely different? The hallmark of a strong marketing plan - whether it involves the Internet or not - is a clear sense of focus, so figure out where you're trying to go before you begin.
Keep things realistic. Another common stumbling block lies in trying to do everything at once. No matter how ambitious or energetic you are, you're probably not going to be able to manage 20 or 30 different Internet marketing activities a day... especially if you don't want the other parts of your company to fall to pieces.
A better strategy is to concentrate on the four or five things you know could help you out over time, and then make sure you accomplish those before anything else. It takes a lot of discipline to set priorities and tone down your expectations, but it's usually the only way to make your plan a reality.
Don't try to do it all yourself. Speaking of time and expectations, if you aren't an Internet marketing expert, there's a good chance that some of what you're doing could be done more cheaply and efficiently by someone else. As with anything in business, having some knowledgeable input can greatly reduce the learning curve you will face, and micromanaging simple tasks is a surefire way to create bottlenecks.
Note that this does not mean you have to pay an expensive consultant for every Web marketing task on your list. Spouses, kids, interns, or employees can all be taught to do things like update web pages or link to social media profiles. The key is just to get some expert guidance at the beginning of the process and make sure that executing the plan doesn't fall entirely on your shoulders
Measure progress and adjust the plan accordingly. It's ironic, but one of the reasons most online marketing plans don't go anywhere is that they fail to show results quickly enough. In other words, the motivation to devote time to it on a daily basis runs out, and the whole thing becomes a kind of chicken-and-egg problem.
The answer, in the short term, is to stick to your realistic plan and make it a priority for each and every day. Over time, though, you're never going to be motivated if you aren't seeing profits, so be sure to measure your progress from time to time and adjust your approach.
This is another area where having a little bit of professional help can go a long way, since a trusted online marketing partner can help you spot gains while steering you away from efforts that have turned out to be a waste of time. But regardless of whether you work with someone else or not, take stock of where your business is and has been online, and be sure things are going in the right direction.