Do You Really Need An Online Marketing Strategy

Do You Really Need An Online Marketing Strategy Laurel Anne Stark5 signs you don’t need an online marketing strategy.

An online marketing strategy can be described a detailed written plan that explains exactly how you’ll market yourself and your business on the internet.

The development of an online marketing strategy can call for a significant investment of both time and money.

Before you spend your time and money, you may want to consider the following points to find out if you really need an online marketing strategy.

What is online marketing?

Online marketing is an umbrella term used to describe online tools that can be used for the purposes of marketing a person or business. Facebook ads, email broadcasts, getting on google and your website are all online marketing tools.

These are by no means an exhaustive list of online marketing tools, though.

In fact, the world of online marketing changes almost daily. New tools are constantly emerging, old tools dissolving and familiar behemoths changing their functionality or design almost entirely overnight.

Why do businesses market themselves online?

Consumers are savvy creatures. You know, you’re one of them!

In response to being inundated with advertising, we’ve adapted. We have spam filters, Netflix subscriptions and caller ID’s to help us avoid being sold to.

In the same breath though, we’re spending literally hours a day online. (Over 24 hours a week online in 2016 according to the Globe & Mail.)

Being in business, it pays to have a presence where your future customers are, so it makes sense to invest in a presence on Facebook, Google, YouTube and on other online marketing tools like your website.

When is developing an online marketing strategy a waste of time?

There are several scenarios when developing an online marketing strategy isn’t a good idea.

#1 – The first sign you don’t need an online marketing strategy.

The first is if you or the majority stakeholders in your business are of the opinion the internet isn’t a huge opportunity for businesses and business people alike.

Don’t laugh.

This is a reality for some people. Most commonly those who are just about to retire, those who don’t have cell phones and those who are generally resistant to change.

#2 – The second sign you don’t need an online marketing strategy

Another sign you shouldn’t invest in an online marketing strategy is when what you’re already doing is working well really well for your business, and for you personally.

Some businesses reliably experience an influx of new customers and sales from the internet. These leads and sales are willing to pay for what’s being sold and turn a tidy profit.

Sometimes this result can happen fairly easily and naturally, especially if the business owner is really in touch with their customers, where their customers hang out online and when they have an interest in learning online marketing.

#3 – The third sign you don’t need an online marketing strategy.

You’re confident.

You’re measuring your results, you know what works, what doesn’t and what tactics have the best return on investment.

Generating results and feeling confident in your abilities add up to an ideal situation, one where you likely don’t need any further support.

If you don’t find yourself in any of these three situations, it may be worth additional exploration to find out for certain whether or not an online marketing strategy will deliver value for your organization.

Other scenarios when an online marketing strategy doesn’t make sense are:

You may find you need an online marketing strategy, but you’re not able to allocate the resources.
You don’t want, or can’t handle any more business
When is developing an online marketing strategy a good idea?

The following symptoms usually indicate when it may be a good idea to invest in an online marketing strategy.

#1 You’re feeling less than confident:

You’ve been successful with your online marketing efforts to date.

Your business is making money, but you’re not feeling very confident you’re going about your online marketing the right, best or most effective way.

You may be wondering if you’re missing something. You may be worrying about whether you should have a presence on the latest social media site, or if it’s a waste of time. Any leads or sales that you’re getting from the internet may be fairly sporadic, so it’s not a very reliable source of leads.
#2 You’re not generating results:

You could have a very successful offline business, have an online marketing budget and believe online marketing can generate opportunities for you. But everything you’ve tried is a colossal waste of time and money.

#3 Your competitors are kicking your butt:

You may be noticing that your competitors appear to be doing a little bit better than you are. Whether it’s they are ranking better than you are on Google or their social media is getting more engagement or whether you’ve just heard through the grapevine that they’re doing better than you are financially.

#4 You can’t delegate:

You may want to delegate some of your online marketing responsibilities but you’re having difficulties doing so, because you don’t really know what to say to the person you’re delegating to.

#5 Your market is changing:

If you’re looking to expand or pivot into a different market, and you want to use the internet to drive leads, it makes sense to look at developing an online marketing strategy.

What kind of results can I expect from a strategy?

According to the Business Development Bank of Canada small business that have an online marketing strategy and are actually executing it can see revenues up to 22% higher than their competitors.

Obviously 22% more revenue is a significant increase in funds. That may be just the right incentive to invest in a strategy.

Why is a strategy that much more effective?

Without an online marketing strategy, typically anything that gets done in the area of online marketing is sporadic or reactive. It’s what we in the business call “spray and pray”. What this means is that you’re out there testing everything out publicly.

Remember the internet never forgets, so being reactive and inconsistent can compromise your brand and erode the trust you’re trying to build with your audience.
Instead of building on the solid blocks of a foundation, each tactic or effort is acting individually instead of in concert where you can expect a compound effect.

Obviously I am biased, but truly and in the long term an online marketing strategy is much more effective for resource allocation if you’re at all invested in marketing your business online.

An online marketing strategy can save you time, save you money and most importantly it can going to keep those sales coming in and keep those profit margins high.

Stop Watching Cat Videos And Start Marketing On Social Media

Stop Watching Cat Videos And Start Marketing On Social Media

Scrolling through your Facebook feed while your coffee gets cold isn’t social media marketing.

You’re supposed to be doing something to promote your business online, but all those videos of cats can be awfully distracting.

The next thing you know, 20 minutes of your life has slipped away, and you still haven’t done anything productive.

The scenario I just described is typical for small business owners succumbing to the pressure to get on social media.

The thing is, without a plan of attack, many small business owners don’t get very far online.

Instead they face:

  1. Overwhelm: all the new, shiny tools!
  2. Wasted time: mucking about, without a strategy
  3. A sinking feeling: they’re missing out on a world of opportunity.

The way to be effective on social media is to know your audience.

Imagine you sell cat beds.

Probably, sharing all those cat videos on social media would be a great idea, because your ideal customer likes cats.

That’s an obvious one, but if you can get into the mind of your target market and figure out who they are, you can then create and share content (videos, articles, images) that will be received well.

Content that is well received will:

  • Generate likes, comments and shares (increasing your exposure)
  • Drive traffic to your website (assuming you provide a link to your site)
  • Teach your prospects something (building trust and positioning you as a thought leader)

How do you figure out who your target audience is?

Hint: Here’s a handy video that shows you just how to figure that out, easily.

Take out a pen and paper and imagine your ideal client. Start brainstorming the answers to questions like:

  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What problem do they want to solve?
  • What are their hobbies and interests?
  • Where else do they spend money?
  • How do they see themselves?
  • What do they stand for?
  • What media do they consume?
  • What are they ready for?
  • What questions they ask before they buy what you sell?

The answers to these questions will give you an idea of what’s important to your target, and what types of content they would like to see.

Answer the questions you get asked every day in the form of a blog post.

Think about it.

You get asked the same questions over and over and over.

Obviously, the answers are important to your existing customers, so the odds are good the answers will be important to your prospective customers.

Why not answer that question, in depth in a blog post. This handy video will give you tips on how to get that done more quickly and easily than you thought possible.

A social media strategy that is based on what your target audience cares about is the most effective strategy.

But, knowing your target audience is just the first step

One of my clients said today “I thought going to social media camp I’d learn everything I’d need to know about social media and be done – HA! That didn’t happen”

He’s right.

Successfully marketing your business on social media can be complicated, if you try to figure it all out on your own.

Or you can grab a complimentary copy of my book Social in 17 – how to be successful on social media in just 17 minutes a day.

This is what people are saying about Social in 17:

Really! Social Media can be done in 17 minutes a day. Laurel gives you the structure, the tips, and the ideas. This book is quick and easy to read. She touches on all the major social media platforms but she isn’t short on details. I enjoyed Laurel’s clear and concise style. Well worth my time (and I teach courses on social media). Jeff Nelson, Calgary.

Grab your free copy, here:

3 Tips to Grow and Enrich Your LinkedIn Network

building-your-linkedin-networkHaving a strong LinkedIn network is very beneficial to your professional career. It can help you land a job, learn new things and make new connections that you never thought would be possible. Although many professionals have a LinkedIn profile, many are still not taking full advantage of the social network. The following are three proven ways to grow and enrich your network on LinkedIn:

1. Go to Events & Take People for Coffee (Add people in the moment)

The most fundamental way to grow your LinkedIn network is also the most old school, but going to events gives you a chance to meet unique individuals with many different backgrounds. Instead of bombing out random add requests on LinkedIn, make real human connections first, before adding anyone. Once you’ve made the initial interaction, consider taking the new connection for coffee. Even if the individual doesn’t work in your field, bring a list of random questions as there is still likely something to be learned or another networking opportunity may present itself. An under-utilized strategy for events and coffee meetings is bringing out your smart phone and adding people with the LinkedIn app on the spot. That way you won’t forget, or have to remember cards or emails.

2. Engage with Your Network (comment, like, share, endorse or recommend)

Similar to all other social networks, you cannot expect anyone to engage with you if you aren’t engaging first. More active members of your network will likely share original composition posts which are great for commenting on with your thoughts, or sharing the post with your network. These posts will allow you to get your profile out to more people, in a shorter amount of time. Less active networks will share trending articles, memes, videos or inspirational messages and liking or commenting on these types of posts will show your support for the author but it can also open up the opportunity for other LinkedIn members to see your profile and connect. If you’ve worked directly with a connection for some time, consider endorsing one or a few of their skills and if you’d really like to show your support, write a personal recommendation. These are all ways to ensure your profile stays active and relevant.

3. Share Original Content

Once you feel comfortable with the size and engagement of your network, it’s time to start
sharing original content. The best way to share your ideas is with LinkedIn’s publisher feature. Don’t focus on the length so much as the content on the page. Write about topics you have first hand experience in and do your best to provide real world value that can be applied by anyone who has the drive. Adapt your content overtime as you may notice that some topics tend to be more popular than others. Interviewing a colleague or friend is a great place to start if you can’t come up with any unique ideas to write about. If you already have some writing experience, you can use these posts to showcase your knowledge, expertise or unique skills, all of which will show well to your network.

In a world where “who knows you” is often more important than “who you know” growing and enriching your LinkedIn network can take you a long way professionally. With a few simple steps, you’ll see your network grow exponentially and over time the engagement will increase and the possibilities for the future will be endless.

“There’ll always be serendipity involved in discovery.”
– Jeff Bezos

3 Simple Ways to Help your Blog be Found and Read

digital marketing blogThe societal shift towards instant gratification in our media has completely altered the way we think about producing and digesting the written word, with online blogs in particular being a major force in the changing habits of both writers and readers.

When people say they want to read an epic blog post, they’re no longer talking about the length. As sad as it might sound to those with dreams of grandeur, unless you are a specially talented wordsmith or raconteur, the 2000 word wall of text you wrote for your digital marketing blog is unlikely to engage many people.

People want quick fixes of pleasure to get them through the gruelling fifteen minute bus commute to work, lists of easily digestible facts that go well with a coffee, and bite-sized nuggets of information they can devour with their fries on their lunch break.

If you’re regularly producing content for your digital marketing blog but finding the amount of either traffic or interaction is lower than you’d hoped, it might be time to rethink what you thought you knew about your desired audience.

Plan for the scan

The first thing to understand when producing content for your digital marketing blog is that even those who read it probably don’t really read it. When digesting web content, people scan, and the way your blog posts are formatted will be a bigger factor in people reading and interacting with them than even the content itself.

Because your digital marketing blog may live or die by the format, it has to be clear. We all know the importance of a good headline, but subheadings are just as vital in breaking up your topics into easier to swallow chunks, and even helping the reader to decide if they can skip to the next paragraph.

Using keywords in the subheadings is a very good idea too. Not only does it help with SEO, but it will also reinforce the relevance of the article to your reader’s interest if they have found it through an organic search.

To boldly go

To help the reader of your digital marketing blog pick out the information they are looking for, making bold the key points will cause them to jump out from the page.

Using this technique benefits yourself as much as it does your audience. While you may like to think they care about every line in your posts as much as you do, and want to spend time taking everything in, they probably don’t.

So while guiding them to the parts they want to see and showing them what to skip over by making bold the important points might sound counterintuitive for those wanting all of their content to be read, your reader is actually more likely to read more of your other digital marketing blog posts if you’re making it easier for them to find and digest the information.

Words and pictures

Whether images or video, using multimedia in your blog posts is vital to stimulating your reader into taking the action you want them to take.

As well as providing a break from the words, and being another effective way of breaking up the wall of text, images and video can get across messages in a way plain text never can.

The important thing to remember is to keyword your multimedia, usually by renaming the file before uploading, to give your digital marketing blog another chance to be found on Google.

People are increasingly going straight to Image searches to find what they are looking for, but your multimedia will not show in the results if it still has a generic, alphanumeric title.

Because most people scan articles on the internet rather than reading them, making your digital marketing blog easier to digest by breaking up the wall of text with key worded multimedia, subheadings, and with the important points made bold is vital in allowing your audience to find you, and in keeping them coming back.


For a look at our One Minute Tips and more on this topic, check out our Youtube page here:

The 10 Digital Marketing Commandments

If you’re looking for results from your marketing, look no further than here!

I am going to show you 10 ways to use digital marketing to generate a steady stream of leads to your business.

The digital marketing landscape is crowded. It seems there is a new marketing gimmick, tool or software available almost every day, and it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

Like anything though, the basics are always a great place to begin. Here are the 10 digital marketing commandments you will ignore at your peril:

1. Know thy customer.

What’s important to them? What problem of theirs do you solve? How do you help them? Focus relentlessly on communicating the unique value you provide and your marketing will succeed in driving new customers to your door.

2. Show Proof. 

Sure, you SAY you can help, but can you really? Show case studies, photos, testimonials and reviews whenever and where ever possible.

Social proof acts as an unofficial endorsement of your business, your products, your services.

3. Give to Get. 

Invoke the law of reciprocity.

Share your skills and knowledge with the world. Educate your future customers, by offering up your wisdom through blogging, social media, free quotes, samples, evaluations.

You will reap the rewards tenfold.

4. Fish where the fish are.

Just because Snapchat is the hottest new marketing tool, does not necessarily mean it will work for your business.

Clear away the clutter and focus on the places where your future & current customers are present.

Commit to staying in front of your niche and ignore the rest.

5. Walk in their shoes. 

Think like your customers, speak their language and you will profit.

This takes time, customer surveys and listening closely but it’s worth it.

This is what it takes to build trust and rapport with those that pay the bills.

6. Be Authentic. 

You can tell a stock image or bland corporate speak from a mile away.

More than anything, this invokes suspicion.What are you trying to hide? Be a real person, or appoint a face of your company.

In this globalized world, everyone wants to deal with the small business guy that cares.

7. Be Consistent. 

Even if you can only update your Facebook status once a month, commit to that and do not falter.

Consistency is key in building trust, especially online. It is better to actually do less than set up all your social media accounts and leave them to stagnate.

8. Be Strategic.

A small tweak in direction before you execute can make all the difference.

Spend your time and resources on planning and research and you can double or triple your results.

What is the most effective use of your resources? Don’t start any marketing until you have a plan.

9. Be Responsive.

Customers expect a response on social media within an hour.

That’s an incredibly demanding expectation, but one that exists nonetheless. The better you can meet or even just manage expectations in today’s instant gratification society, the more successful you will be.

This also applies to online reviews. Don’t ignore the bad reviews, address them! Respond to all interactions, good and bad and you will earn the respect of your community and future customers.

10. Get Social.

You can’t ignore social media anymore. It’s here!

Your customers expect you to have a presence on social sites. You need to be present where the majority of consumers spend multiple hours a day.

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Digital Marketing Commandments