The Internet Marketing

There are lots of website operators in different industries who think that if they spend a lot of money on the aesthetics of the website and make it look like Taj-Mahal; then the customers will magically appear on their website. It is true that web design is an important part of the marketing strategy but it needs to be inline with other techniques to generate traffic.
Every one should have a marketing plan, in order to create awareness and sustain competitive advantage. It is very easy to create a marketing plan. You can follow the 5M approach. It basically divides the plan into 5 major section, which are, message, market, money, medium, and measurement. Let’s take a look at each of the sections one by one.

Message: The first step in a marketing plan is to develop a message, which will be conveyed to the customers. The message needs to be clearly defined in order to attract the target market. The operators can communicate the message that they are quality oriented or price oriented. For example, lets take a look at two brick and mortar retail stores Neiman Marcus (quality oriented) and Ross (price oriented).

The concept is not that different from web business. Both the stores have a very clear message. When we enter Neiman Marcus we expect good quality merchandise organized in different departments. On the other hand when we walk into Ross we are willing to sort through unorganized shelves so we can find the best bargain. Website operators should also have a clear message whether they want to be quality oriented or they want to sell everyday low price products.

Market: Operators have a choice to enter three kinds of market. They can employ mature market, niche market, or growing markets. "My target market is people who are between the ages of 25 to 34, married couples, $70,000 average household income, and drive minivans or 4 door sedans. This is a well define target market. The marketing plan will be geared towards the customers who fit the profile. However this doesn’t mean that the customers who don’t fit the criteria are not welcomed. All the customers should be treated equally; it’s just that the marketing efforts will be focused on the target market.

Money: Let’s suppose that you have a well-defined target market, a clear message, however, you don’t have the money to advertise. There are many operators who have spend so much money making the website look nice that they are left with not enough money to implement an effective marketing plan. It is always a smart decision to put at least 5% of your gross revenues into major marketing efforts.

Five percent seems like a lot of money but remember that five percent can increase your business by twenty to thirty percent. Don’t go overboard designing your website with fancy bells and whistles. Customers do appreciate a nicely design site, but for them to appreciate your artwork you need to get them inside the store first.

Medium: Choosing a medium can be a very difficult task. There are so many web based advertising companies, and choosing the right one from the beginning is not an easy job. If you are a new business than advertise with at least three different companies. Each company will charge you somewhere in between $400 to $500. Call the people who are already advertising with that company and see how well the response rate is for others.

There are other medium you can choose for marketing your service such as direct mail marketing, flyers with your logo, promotional items to corporations (if you are selling to corporations), uniform shirts with company logo, letters to associations, unions, etc. Each and every medium can be effective as long as the message is consistent.

Measurement: That’s the final step in the 5M marketing plan. "How well are we doing"? In order to measure the success of the marketing plan we need to keep track of all our activities. If you are advertising using PPC then keep track of the campaign. Find out the unique visitors to your website. Measure the response rate from each company and rank them between 1 to3. If one of the companies is under performing then talk to them and try to fix the problem. If the response is still low then drop the company right away and use the money to focus on other promotions.

Marketing plan does not guarantee success, however, it will increase your odds to succeed in the business and gain a competitive advantage.

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