Before launching into any type of internet business opportunities it is essential to plan out and analyze key marketing decisions you need to make. Otherwise you are just throwing money after lost causes.
This article guides you through a sample Internet marketing plan which can be used to form the basis of web-based sales and advertising activities (building websites/writing content/positioning/pricing decisions).
This is the starting point for any project plan or business plan as you need to first establish how your Internet marketing plans are going to align with the company’s overall strategy. Use a strategic planning template if you have one handy or download one from the web.
Clarify the goals of the website/product you want to pursue and how these objectives are aligned with your company’s goals. Traditional marketing plan examples often highlight these objectives in a vision statement or section detailing your key goals/objectives.
You need to explicitly spell out if there are specific targets (e.g. customer volumes, sales, etc.) that are to be obtained. Summarize any market research surveys you have completed or need to reference focusing on the relevant key information.
Some larger organizations will have more wide spanning goals, relating to improving brand awareness for example, which cannot be so easily measured.
With these goals established as part of your plan, identify any core competencies which are lacking within your firm that will hold you back from completing the plan. For example, there may be gaps in your productivity improvement techniques or online sales support which need to be filled
Leading off with your goals and objectives is also advised when producing a business proposal template for the same reasons – for clarifying strategic and project goals.
The first proper analysis stage in your marketing plan template should detail what the current industrial and competitive market is like. You can start off by doing a SWOT analysis to identify strengths and weaknesses in your own company’s capabilities as well as the opportunities and threats within the market (e.g. new entrants).
This may prove to be a go/no-go decision point as market analysis may identify that there is too many strong competitors already pursuing these Internet business opportunities. This is a good thing as it means you are identifying these problems before large amounts of capital investment have been made.
Any in-depth analysis may require its own marketing research proposal documentation in order to get budgetary approval for surveys, web searches, etc.
A more in-depth Internet marketing plan should also consider what sort of industry trends are occurring. This involves historical analysis (e.g. using Google Trends) on specific keywords or products to see whether customer demand is increasing or decreasing.
Market research companies can also provide this information (at a cost) to feed into your marketing plan template, but if you have fostered good communication in the workplace then perhaps your own staff can provide this type of information already.
All Internet marketing plans should include customer analysis to establish what type of profile of customers to target. This could be based on specific demographics, age groups, professions, salary bands, etc.
Market research firms are often employed for this purpose but you may find large amounts of freely available information online. The alternative is to do your own market research by contacting customers directly. this may already have been done by your product manager while researching and creating a product roadmap.
Segmentation and differentiation
One crucial element to every sample Internet marketing plan should be a section on your market focus and product focus. These two elements are often omitted and provide a unique way of defining your unique selling proposition (those things which your company or products can do, which are competitors cannot).
Think about it – if you are selling a house online then you’d have to identify the target customers based on your style of house and the cost price your targeting. This informs the types of real estate (or any service industry) marketing ideas you can use (e.g. traditional use of realtors for high-value homes versus targeting online methods for condominiums).
Segmenting your customer base based on their profile or other factors can help you define marketing decisions you make later on (see the Positioning section below). Your Internet marketing plan needs to explicitly define which segments you want to pursue since if this is left vague then there is the danger of trying to target several segments at once, and failing in them all.
Your analysis open to this point will also help establish how you are going to differentiate your product in the market. This may relate to specific features or market segments you intend targeting.
This final stage of the marketing plan template is the culmination of the entire template. It brings together all the previous analysis and planning information to define how you intend positioning your product/service in order to make the most sales/impact.
For this, it is essential to return to the 4P’s of marketing which are just as valid with Internet business opportunities as in traditional industries.
- Product: Defines the goals/services are product lines you provide. You can position yourself based on specific features, choice of accessories, service options, warranties provided is an even on brand names.
- Price: Define a price that neither puts you out of the market (too high) or loses you profits (too low). To compete in the marketplace you may need to also consider other price positioning approaches such as flexible prices, bulk purchasing, grouping products, introductory price discounts or geographically targeted prices.
- Promotion: Defines how you’re going to communicate with the customer. Your firm will have to decide whether to sell direct, use mass setting websites, use a mix of promotional tools (including online advertising media selection) and plan the range of copywriting/content approaches to use. My post on online marketing tools goes into greater detail some options you can choose.
- Place: Defines what marketplace or distribution channels you use. Some informational products can be positioned in numerous channels and distribution systems online due to their ease of duplication. You could also consider a variety of middlemen and affiliate marketers for sales and promotion within your Internet marketing plans. Positioning real-world tangible products requires some additional planning around shipping, fulfillment, transportation and warehousing decisions which will have to make as part of your plan.