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Building Your Online Marketing Ecosystem Part 1: The Foundation

By John Joyce on November 3, 2009 - Comments 0

Building_A_FoundationThe first step of every business identity creation process is to build a solid foundation from which you can nurture a living, growing online presence. Because business owners become so entrenched in the day to day operations of their company, they don’t consider taking a step back to objectively reflect on the “state of the business”. Much of what I’m going to tell you in this post might seem incredibly elementary and you might even want to say, “duh”, to me. However, this simplified approach works even for an established business that wants to verify that their marketing strategy maps to their overall business goals. Let’s begin:

Who Am I? Why Am I Here? Admiral James Stockdale, although he picked the wrong venue, asked two important questions that should be pondered by any business owner. In many cases a business’ personality is as important as the product/service being offered. So, a clear understanding of “who” offers a identifiable persona to which prospective and existing customers can relate.

What do we do? This can be one of the most difficult messages to nail down for a small business but it is vital to the success of your marketing initiatives. Not only must you clearly articulate what you do but it’s imperative you differentiate your offering and communicate value.  Don’t get caught up in the trap of listing fifty features and all of the “cool widgets and gadgets” you have built.  Tell them how you are going to impact their bottom line and make them more successful.

Who Cares? Rather than engage in outbound marketing to the masses, now is the time to identify the characteristics of your dream customer and focus on driving them to your site.  If you already have happy customers, reach out to them and ask if they would be interested in participating in a quick survey.  The data you collect will shed light on why they chose to do business with you, what you can do better and it gives you the opportunity to thank them for their business.

Where Are They Looking? The final step, after identifying and segmenting your target audience is to understand where they go to find information about you/your product/your service. There are the obvious places such as search engines but, to dig a little deeper, you have to do some research and identify specific places (websites, Q&A sites, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) where people are talking about what you do and then you have to become an active participant by offering valuable information and linking back to your site where possible.

This entire process is continuous but it will organically build your brand and online presence over time. You have to be committed to this process and willing to commit the necessary time and effort. You will learn about the market, prospective customers, current customers, keyword strategy, potential new markets, and even potential partnerships with related businesses.

Once you identify the Who, What and Where, you will be better suited to develop your core message and consistently present it across all possible mechanisms.

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