Online marketing can be particularly vexing for many business owners. I have heard stories of business owners devoting a lot of time towards researching and learning the many facets of online marketing, only to see some of their well planned campaigns fall flat.

At this point, most business owners are just too scared to invest any more money, especially as their current efforts are yielding little to no results. I have heard a story of a business owner who spent months poring over everything top marketing sites like Quick Sprout, Moz and Hubspot had to offer, but still being unable to make any ad campaign work. Frustrations and a feeling of helplessness abound in such scenarios.

Does this sound familiar to you?

Its like football, there is a huge difference between knowing how the game is played and its various intricacies and then playing the game itself. You may learn a lot about tactics, drills or positions, but you still don’t have a winning team Football Manager 2018.

How do you think the Karate Kid (the first one) would have turned out, if  Daniel learnt karate techniques from YouTube and not the very affable Mr. Miyagi? Similarly, it would be foolhardy to think that you could replicate the core strategies involved in a successful ad campaign by just reading articles from Moz.

If you want to successfully market your business online, you need to have a strong grasp over the following:

  • Who Your Ideal Customer Is- If you are not targeting a specifc audience group, you might as well be throwing all your money down a well. The basic premise of any advertising campaign involves identifying the ideal customer for a particular business. Only then can you single out individual challenges involved in selling to your audience, their buying patterns and how you could showcase your product/service as a solution to their current predicament.

Without this, all you can do is create generic or random campaigns targeting everyone but enticing nobody in particular.

  • How Will Prospective Customers Buy From You- Do you have any idea about what your sales and marketing funnel looks like? What decision process will a prospective customer go through before buying your product? What extra information will they require to make this decision?

You need to understand the purchase behaviour of your ideal customer group, why/how people buy from you, so that you can provide them with all the requisite information/motivation to take the plunge and make a purchase. Such quantitative analysis is an integral part of any successful marketing campaign

  • Where Will You Find Your Ideal Customer-Once you figure out who your your target audience is and why/how they buy, you need to zero in on the best path towards reaching them online. Is it through inbound marketing techniques like blogging or social media, Google Adwords, Facebook Ads etc. Once you know your ideal customer profile, it will be easier for you to reach them and generate more leads.

What To Do Next?

Once you have figured all of this out, your marketing strategy will become clearer to you. You wont be wasting time, money and resources on Instagram Ads anymore because you have figured out that you wont be able to reach yourtarget audience on Instagram. Also, once you are aware of these three things all those blog posts, tutorials and YouTube videos will start to make more sense to you.  Now, you are in a better position to make use of information that is more suited towards your business and target audience profile.

As a business owner you also need to develop an understanding of advertising and how it relates to your business. You could partner up with a mentor or marketing consultant to help ascertain what your marketing strategy should look like. Or you could learn this by yourself. This is an important step and skipping it would mean that your business is directionless floating from one place to another, without any idea of where the destination is.

Many a time business owners borrow from banks or alternative finance providers, to raise the capital needed to advertise online or hire an internal marketing team without first having a marketing strategy in place. The common assumption here is that the company will do that job for them. Most online marketing campaigns work on set templates based on what has worked for them previously.

Therefore, its possible that the company you just hired runs a facebook ad for your business based on past returns for them, without first doing the legwork and identifying whether Facebook ads are going to work for your target audience.

Hiring a marketing firm to handle your Google Adwords campaign or to do content marketing is different from consulting a marketing expert/firm to create a marketing strategy tailored to your business’s needs.

Will you have to hire somebody to do this for you? You could, but it is not compulsory. If you have time on your hands and an aptitude towards learning, you could easily figure out a marketing strategy that works for your business by yourself. If this feels like a lot of work, you are better of hiring an expert with relevant experience in your niche.

The absolute worst you can do in such situations is nothing. This will lead to more money and time being wasted on your ineffective marketing strategy.

You need more than just a marketing plan for your business, you need a clear strategy and system in place to not only generate more leads for your business, but to also convert them into repeat customers for your business.