Your website is complete! Now you can sit back, relax, let everyone flock to your site and let the money start rolling in! You’d be surprised at how many people think this way! But the reality is that a website is only part of a much larger plan that must be implemented for your online venture to be successful.
The problem is, how will people find your site, and how will you let people know what is on your site? The first step is ensuring that your website is optimised for search engines such as Google. I’ve covered Search Engine Optimisation in a previous article. The next step is no different than it has been since the first merchant hung an ‘open for business’ sign in front of his tent; marketing and advertising. What has changed over those centuries, and particularly in the past few decades, is that the vast majority of your marketing and advertising can be done online, and often for very little or no money.
Before we get all nerdy though, let’s not forget that the real world still exists and there are some really great ways to advertise there which shouldn’t be ignored. Among my favourite are:
Branding a vehicle: This can range from a magnetic sticker on the door, all the way up to full branding all over the vehicle. If you drive around a lot, this is a great and relatively inexpensive way to increase your brand awareness and make your contact information immediately available.
Flyers/direct mail. I have mixed feelings about flyers and direct mail. On one hand, I hate junk mail. On the other hand, as embarrassed as I am to admit it, the last few times I needed a tradie or a service, it was direct mail that connected me to that service. Love it, or hate it, it works.
Word of mouth: If you do good work and make your customers happy, they will tell their friends about you.
Your Marketing Plan
That said, here is the basic online marketing plan that you should be … planning.
Blogging: Writing articles and publishing them on your website not only provides your site with fresh, (hopefully) quality content, but it can go a long ways towards helping establish your authority and reputation in your area.
Social media: Like it or not, most people regularly use some form of social media. The benefits for business are unarguable. Social media can extend your reach exponentially and help you grow a targeted following which has already expressed interest in your business by following you!
That’s it? you must be asking. Yes, that’s it. But don’t make the mistake of underestimating the time it takes to do all of this. Depending on how good you are at writing, a minimum 500 word article could take 2, 3 or more hours. And then you have to post regularly (and frequently) on social media. You have to post on Facebook, on Twitter, on Google+, then there is Instagram, Pintrest, LinkedIn, and YouTube. And this is all assuming that you have no trouble deciding on content to write about or post! Writing one blog article per week and posting on social media several times per week is going to take a huge chunk out of your week; time you could be (and should be) devoting to either billable hours or sales. You need to plan your content in advance and schedule your publishing.
Enter the Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar is the one thing that will make all of this manageable. By planning your content in advance and organising when and where it will be published you can stay on top of it all.
A good editorial calendar should take into account all of your content, all of your platforms, and the frequency of each.
My marketing plan currently requires one blog article per week, and posting on social media every other day. I would consider this a bare minimum and am already reviewing my plan to crank up my social media posting. Right now I am posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ with unscheduled occasional posting on YouTube and a presence on LinkedIn (no publishing). Here is an example of the calendar I am currently using:
Feel free to copy this if you like, or whip our your spreadsheet and modify it to your specific needs.
My final bit of advice is to create a bookmark folder and fill it with relevant sites and articles which can serve to either inspire your own writing, or serve as content that you can share with your audience. I am more than happy to share content from other authors with my followers provided that I personally think it is useful and cool. If I don’t find it interesting, I suspect that my followers won’t either.
Good luck, and remember:
I’m pulling for you, we’re all in this together. –Red Green