The Right Online Marketing Plan for You

There’s a simple formula to create the right online marketing plan for your business. I have used it for dozens of clients and the results prove it works!

There are four steps you need to take to create the right plan. The time it takes to work through them is worth it. Taking time to develop the right plan prevents you from wasting time doing the wrong things.

If you are focused on doing more on Facebook or starting an enewsletter, stop. Diving into tactics without a plan sets you up for failure. Take time to develop a plan, by following these steps:

Discovery

Gather the information needed to develop a marketing plan for your business. Define your goal and how you will know if you get there. Talk to key stakeholders, including internal staff, partners, and customers. Take a look at what you are doing now and decide what’s working and what’s not.

Strategy

Now it is time to translate the insights gained during the discovery phase into an actionable plan that targets your goals. Write down your strategy. In your head is not good enough.

Your strategy must state the goals and the specific strategies and tactics that will move you toward them. Set a timeline for each activity and define the resources needed. Who will write those blog posts and how often?

Every action item also needs a measure of success. How will you know if each effort is successful?

Implementation

Now you have a plan! But, you are not done. It is time to implement the specific activities in your plan.

Break down all the things you want to do to specific activities. Know what you need to do today, next week and next month. Focus on getting each step done and you will stay on course to achieving your overall plan.

Evaluation

As you implement your plan, you also need to evaluate. Take note of the impact of each activity. Also make periodic (quarterly?) assessments of the strategy as a whole.

Evaluation should be easy because you defined what success looks like when you created your plan. If you want people to click the link on a post, then look at click-through data. If you want comments, then look at that.

Evaluation can include informal assessments and formal evaluations such as surveys and focus groups. The important thing is that you take time to assess the value of each effort.

Use the results of your evaluations to adjust your plan. There is no sense continuing to do things that don’t work or put off adding a great idea discovered as you evaluate.

 

The Good Logo

Guest Post by Julie Young, Young Design

Logo design is like solving the best puzzle ever. Essentially, it is distilling a company’s story into a simple graphic. Like all good art, the simplicity is a cover for a deeper complexity. There’s a mystique and a sense of cleverness about logos; upon closer inspection, you can find hidden patterns and double meanings.

Combining colors, fonts and shapes to convey a concept may seem like voodoo, but designers are operating from a logical basis. We rely on culture and the audience’s perception: What do most people think of when they think of power, of comfort, of speed, of anything? It’s nice to have a secret meaning, but you want your market to “get it.”

What Makes a Good Logo?

  • A good logo is simple. You can’t say everything in a logo, so don’t try. Adding a tagline may help explain a company’s mission, but the logo should be able to stand alone. Interestingly, food and beverage logos seem to be able to get away with more complexity. But take a look at the story of the Oreo cookie design (celebrating 100 years). The intricate pattern is offset by its circular shape, monochromatic colors, and its duality (both sides are the same). The overriding concept is simplicity.
  • A good logo is flexible. A logo will be used in all mediums and in all sizes, so it must be flexible enough to fit all formats. How do you achieve that? Simplicity. No intricate photos, no complicated patterns, no tiny text.
  • A good logo works as well in black and white as it does in color. Often, the black and white version will reveal the parts that *don’t* work. Convert your logo to black and white: Does it pass the test?
  • Good logo design isn’t cheap. The time it takes to develop a logo can be substantial. Plus logos have a higher market value: They are used on all online and print collateral, and over time the number of viewers can be awesome. It’s similar to advertising, where cost is based on circulation. A logo’s long life makes it the ultimate branding tool. A good logo is a business investment; a cheap logo will ending up costing more in the end, in terms of lack of branding and uniqueness.
  • Good logos need tending. Times change and so do logos. It’s fascinating to see how famous corporate logos have changed over the years. The Apple logo has undergone multiple metamorphoses (it actually got simpler), yet its original integrity remains. Read what Rob Janoff, the original designer, has to say about developing the original logo and seeing it change over the years. It’s a good logo – who isn’t looking at that logo every day?

About the author: Julie Young is a print and web designer at Young Design. For over 20 years, she has been creating quality branding, print collateral, websites and email marketing to help companies communicate with their customers and raise profiles and profits.

 

3 Tips for Email Marketing that Works

Your business needs control over its digital marketing. That means investing in a great website and email marketing. Today I focus on three ways to ensure that your email marketing is working for you and your target audience.

Just about every day, we are reminded why we need to nurture our own marketing channels. Social media rules change and people’s interest in specific channels change over time.

Every business needs direct connection with their audience that they control. If Facebook goes away tomorrow, will you lose your followers? What if LinkedIn drops all your connections? Not if they are all part of your active email marketing effort.

Email marketing allows your messaging to be delivered straight to the inboxes of your own list of people. You can affirm connections and market to new prospects.

The open rate on email messages is excellent overall, but poorly handled campaigns will have your subscribers hitting the unsubscribe link without giving you a second chance. You need to ensure your email messages are relevant and valuable to your recipients.

Build Your List Organically

People should opt in to your list. Period.

Never add anyone without their permission. This can happen several ways:

  • When you meet a new prospect, ask if you can add him or her to your email list. I usually write their response on the back of the business card to make sure I add people who say yes, and don’t mistakenly add those who decline.
  • Send an email with a link to subscribe to your email list. Explain what people will get and the benefit to them of being part of the list.
  • Add a link to subscribe to your list to your email signature. This helps people who you are actively in contact with to subscribe.
  • Be sure there is an invite to subscribe on your website.

No one wants to get added to an email list without consent. Email that isn’t requested is spam, plain and simple.

Collect What You Need and Nothing More

We all value our privacy. Collect the information you need to create targeted emails for each subscriber and nothing more.

If you want to send birthday messages, ask for the date. If not, don’t.

Generally, these few items will help you to create targeted messages:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Interest(s)

Provide Valuable Content

Every email should provide value to the recipients. Keep that goal top of mind as you compose your message. Messages must demonstrate your focus and understanding of the recipient.

Value can come in the form of information that speaks to their needs and interests, inside information that solidifies the relationship with you, or a promotion available exclusively to email subscribers.

Before you hit send, ask yourself what the value is to the recipient. If the answer isn’t clear, rework the content of the message.