I’ve had an online business since 1999, and I started it from my rural, East Texas hometown where the reigning industries are bass fishing, forestry and timber, banking, and education, none of which are markets in which I have any interest in working. So, what’s a new online biz owner to do when she lives on the backside of nowhere with nary a business networking opportunity in sight? Take advantage of the power of Internet marketing, of course.
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize right away the power I had at my fingertips, and I was a slow adopter of a number of proven strategies. But, if I could go back in time knowing then what I know now, I wouldn’t have hesitated a moment in implementing a complete Internet marketing plan.
If you’re starting an online service business from scratch, or even if you’ve been in business a few years, here are the 21 steps I recommend that you follow to get 95% of your clients from Internet marketing:
1. Describe your target market. Understand fully what they do, where to find them, what their most pressing problems are, and how they will benefit from your solution.
2. Know your keywords. Begin searching for the words (keywords) that potential clients will search for when looking online for the solution you offer. Use these in articles, article titles, title/content of blog posts, your business, and your web site URL.
3. Outline your client attraction device. Create a description and outline of your ethical bribe (client attraction device) to give away to entice visitors to opt into your list. To complete this task, you must incorporate the problems of your target market and your keyword research as you describe this device.
4. Purchase a keyword-rich domain. Get the.com version of the domain if at all possible. People stop listening after you say “dot”, so they think you’ve said.com even though you may have said.net or.biz instead. That’s why it’s smart to find a keyword rich domain in the.com version.
5. Set up your hosting account. Get a hosting account that permits you to host an unlimited number of web sites, offers unlimited bandwidth, and offers WordPress as an option that you can activate when needed.
6. Create your blogsite. Start a blogsite (blog/web site hybrid) focusing on your target market niche. Using a blogsite as your web site platform enables you to update your site regularly rather than having to hire someone to do it for you.
7. Purchase your email marketing system. Sign up for an email marketing and payment/shopping cart system so that you are prepared to capture your visitor’s contact info and sell to them, as well. Some solutions offer both of these as one service.
8. Write your autoresponders. Write a series of 10 autoresponder messages to send to prospects after they request your client attraction device using your email marketing system. These autoresponders serve to keep you in front of your new prospect as well as to continue to educate that prospect about what you do.
9. Create your opt-in. Add an opt-in box to your blogsite where visitors can sign up for your client attraction device, get on your list, and thus become a prospective client. You can easily do this through your shopping cart/email marketing system.
10. Create your client attraction device for your ethical bribe. It can be an ebook, audio, video, special report, etc. Make sure offer is valuable enough that people would be willing to pay for it. Have a graphic image designed to represent your client attraction device on your web site (visitors like to “see” what they’re getting) and put a value on the download.
11. Begin blogging. Submit blog posts 2-3 times per week, 200-300 words per post. Don’t fret too much over these posts. Write about a problem you helped a client solve (without mentioning specifics, of course), a new resource your discovered, an ah-ha moment you had in your business, or your response to some remarkable occurrence in your industry.
12. Design your ezine template. Create your template for an email newsletter. An ezine is most effective is it sent out weekly to your list. If it seems overwhelming to begin a weekly broadcast, start out monthly with plans to increase frequency from there.
13. Begin social networking. Join 2 social networking sites (the ones your target market uses) to help you build your list. Install or begin to use one of the social networking management tools like TweetDeck, Seemsmic Desktop, or HootSuite to help you better manage your social networking efforts.
14. Become active on discussion forums. Get in front of many members of your target market all at once by answering questions on 2-3 active discussion forums in your industry. This is a great way to easily demonstrate your expertise. Log in several times a week to see how you can help out the other members on the forum.
15. Write the content for your first ezine. Insert the content into the template you created, and send out your email newsletter via your email marketing system.
16. Begin article marketing. Begin writing articles that provide valuable content to your target market. Be sure that you use keywords and keyword phrases from your earlier research and incorporate two of these into your article headline and article content. Submit your articles to articles banks and directories. You can begin this process by taking the primary article from your ezine and submit that to the major article directories.
17. Repurpose your content. Create a repurposing plan for your articles and implement the plan. This might include creating a podcast, video, press release or teleclass from your written article content.
18. Create an information product. Once you have created a number of articles or conducted several interviews, you have enough material to create your first information product for sale.
19. Write your sales letter. Create a list of the features and accompanying benefits for your product. Use that, along with an introduction that tells your story of why you created a product, to write the sales copy for the product.
20. Create an affiliate program. One of the best tools available to help you sell your product is through an affiliate program, or an unpaid sales force who loves your product but doesn’t get paid until they sell your product/service to someone on their list. Your shopping cart program may include an affiliate management piece that will help you set up and run an affiliate program.
21. Build your list with a telesummit. Hold a telesummit (a virtual conference on a telebridge line) for your target market/industry to help you drive traffic to your site, build your list, and create some revenue in the process. By asking well-known industry experts to speak at your telesummit, you’ll gain a higher profile in your industry.
How many of these steps are you implementing in your business? Remember, consistent action is the key to business success. Go down the list, complete each step, continue repeating some of the steps as appropriate, and watch your business soar!