Today: FIVE GOLDEN marketing planning stages.
What separates the amateur from the pro SEO? I firmly believe anybody who has a couple of years can become very proficient in the constructs of search engine optimization. The question is, do these SEOs really understand the nature of strategic planning and marketing? This post discusses the business planning stages, however, what you need to do throughout these stages is consider how you can LEAD your industry, capture NEW markets, and create a lasting COMMUNITY.
If you have a web site then you've certainly completed some sort of business plan to help measure your success and provide some structure along the way. Distinct SEO would like to offer these five crucial steps to creating an efficient and lasting marketing plan to complement your SEO. Don't plan for a plan, plan to produce results.
Step One: Vision and Mission Statement
Place your long term vision as a firm here. The vision statement need not be within your current reach, in fact, it's usually better to create vision statement that you can't attain within your current business parameters. This gives you an opportunity to 'reach for the stars'.
The mission statement helps outline what makes the firm unique and sets the foundation to help you define competitive advantages.
Step Two: Objectives
Defining your objectives is important to create goals that are within grasp but are not yet quantitative at this point. Before your objectives and after your vision/mission statement should come a time where you outline your SWOT analysis. Objectives should stem out from the swOt component (opportunities) of your analysis.
Step Three: Goals Setting
Goals is built upon your objectives. Think, "what do I need to accomplish in order to meet my objectives?" At this point it is crucial to create measurable goals so you can define success (ROI, ROE, etc., numbers help this process).
Step Four: Strategies
This is perhaps the most important of the stages and the most poorly defined component. Strategies are usually meshed with goals because firms do not have a firm grasp on what strategy is. To have 'the lowest prices in your industry' IS NOT STRATEGY. How you'll get there is. Strategies are built upon competitive advantages.
Usually this is accomplished through some type of positional advantage (geographic location, i.e. rail or utilities), or distinct capabilities (patents, acquisitions). SEO has single handedly removed the geographic advantage since anybody online can rank despite brick and mortar presence. The next component is a bit harder to define.
When defining distinct capabilities ask yourself, "what do I do that's different and better than the competition?" If the answer is nothing then move to another industry. You must have something that distinguishes your produce/service from the competition. Be it more efficient shipping, operations, or unique services offered only by you. Find a market niche that you can dominate with your skills and then exploit!
For example, Distinct SEO is different from any other SEO firm because of a) our business strategy/planning knowledge, and b) or statistical models we use for web stats and keyword analysis. That's on top of our abilities to write content and rank web sites well.
Step Five: Tactics
The details of how you will implement the strategies. Important to assign the tasks to individuals and set deadlines.
Once you have these five component nailed down you enter a communications phase where you approach the rest of your firm with your marketing plan. The budget to accomplish the objective stems from the plan, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
Now this is only a rubric for the marketing plan, it doesn't go through the crucial vision setting process you should do with you firm for the ENTIRE operation. That document probably takes way more time (it should at least) to compile and includes more data on competitors and your own resources.
Remember, alot of this information is sitting under your nose, you just need to capture it and define it. Take advantage of a well articular marketing plan so you can define success and make dynamic choices in your industry. Let us know how you fair with your new marketing plan :D