Getting Started With Internet Marketing – Step 1

In my first article in this series – "Internet Marketing in Real Life" – we discussed some of the questions a start-up or small business faces when deciding how to execute an internet marketing campaign. In this article we will begin working on some fundamental prerequisites that are absolutely essential to the success of your digital marketing (and your organization as a whole). Before you tweet a single word or post any updates on Facebook the following needs to be done:

Step 1: Define Your Brand

Many marketers think branding is or begins with a logo and a slogan. I think that is a huge mistake because a logo is a representation of something or someone; unless you have a defect relationship with the person or company behind the object a logo has little value whatsoever. Before making any logos or writing any slogans a few questions need to be answered.

Who Are You?

This may sound like a trivial question but think about the first question that enters your mind when you first see someone new or hear someone mention a name you do not recognize. Our relational and inquisitive minds want to know – "Who is that?"

Put it Into Practice

Write out in one short sentence about who are you. It can be as simple as "I Am a Designer" or "We are a team of marketing consultants" or "We are a software company." I like how Twitter defines themselves in their branding – "Twitter is a real-time Information Network." I now know exactly who or what I am meeting which opens the door for the next logically related question: "What do you do?"

What Do You Do?

You would be surprised how few people have a simple and concise answer to this question. That's because we all do so many things we'd have to write a book to detail it all. People are not interested (just yet) in everything you do at first meeting. They want to know what your main thing in life is. When we first meet someone and they ask the proverbial "What do you do?" it would be socially awkward to respond with something like this – "Well, my name is Sky and I brush my teeth, eat breakfast every day, wear clothes, brush my hair, collect guitars, work out, listen to music, read a lot of books … "Yeah, that's not what the questioner wanted to know. So often that's how businesses and business owners go about describing what they do, and it's a big confusing, annoying, and disappointing turn-off to the one asking the question.

Put it Into Practice

Write out exactly what you do in a couple, maybe even a few concise sentences. As with the "Who Are You?" question, Twitter provides a great example of defining what they do. They "Connect you to the latest stories, ideas, and opinions and news about what you find interesting."

Who Do You Do It For?

Your intended audience makes a big difference in the way you will want to present your brand and your difference.The more you can find a niche the easier it will be to get noticed within that community. Be careful not to cast too broad of a net – that could mean the difference between ultimate success and utter failure.

Put it Into Practice

Put together a list of at least five customer personas that describe (1) who they are (2) what they want that you offer and (3) why they want it. For example, if you were creating a website that sold shoes, a persona could read: "I am a runner who is looking for a specific running shoe because I hear they help with performance." Write down at least five of these and keep the list; you'll want to use it to build even more targeted marketing campaigns later. For step one try to write a common description of all of them like "Our customers are searching online for shoes. Often they are looking for very specific shoes because they are shoe enthusiasts and can not find what they need in the store."

How Do You Do It and What Makes You Different?

Some call this the "Big Idea" or your "Unique Selling Proposition." In the end it's all about an idea and how you apply that idea in a unique enough way that your customer can distinguish you from the hoards of competitors all vying for their attention. I find that it is invaluable to know who your customer is (see previous step) before you try and communicate your difference; doing this successfully means you define your difference as it relates to them, not necessary as it relates to you.

Put it Into Practice

Take some time to write out 10-20 attributes that distinguish you from your competition. List single words or ideals like: inexpensive, all-inclusive, easy to use, real-time, customer driven, etc … Good, now here's the most important part: pick the 1-3 attributes you believe have the most distinguishing outcome for your customer. By distinguishingable outcome we mean something they will experience as a result of the difference. The importance of selecting attributes that matter to your customer can not be overstated; your customers should be able to perceive an effect in their lives by choosing to partner with you.

Here we find another excellent example from Twitter. This is how their website describes what they do that makes them different. "At the heart of Twitter are small bursts of information called Tweets. directly in Tweets to get the whole story at a glance, all in one place. "

Conclusion: Step 1 Is Not Optional

Before you begin to craft or execute your Internet Marketing Campaign make sure you have taken the steps above or you may find yourself wasting your time and spinning your wheels with little or no return.

Only after you have done the above should you go about designing a logo, a slogan and even selecting a company name (which will be the topic of our next post in this series).

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