WRITING a Web Site Marketing Plan

What is a web site marketing plan? It is a plan that outlines how you are going to let potential visitors know about your web site.

Marketing is about communications: how will you communicate the value of your web site to your target audience? You can do that directly (via social media, email marketing, discussion forums, networking) or indirectly (finding partners and influencers who can reach your target audience).

Here are seven easy steps you can take to plan your web site marketing so that it supports the goals you have for your site. Follow these steps and you'll have a strategic framework that lets you quickly select which marketing approaches are the best ones to help you build your web site traffic and engagement.

Planning Your Web Site Marketing Strategy

Follow the seven steps below to lay out your web site marketing plan and strategy.  You'll find more information in the sections below for each of these steps.

1. Know your market niche

  • competitors,
  • target customers,
  • potential partners and influencers.

2. Segment the market

  • What are the different groups of market players?
  • How can you group the potential customers?

3. Develop segment profiles

  • Identify the most important groups above, and write detailed profiles of each segment. 

4. Define your ideal target customer 

  • Which customer segment is the most profitable?

5. Understand your customers' needs and pain points

  • what are the target customers' main challenges or pain points?
  • what do they need to buy your solution?
  • who else is a stakeholder in the purchase?

6. Develop your elevator pitch & messages

  • what are the points you want your target customer to know?
  • what is your unique selling proposition?

7. Define your communications strategy

  • what are the best ways to communicate your messages to your ideal target customers and solve their pain points?

You should follow each of these steps in turn, writing down a few sentences to answer the questions.  This is a really important foundation for developing your web site marketing plan, so don't be tempted to just jump straight to the last step. It is much better to invest a little bit of time up front to really understand your niche and your customers, than waste time and money on marketing activities that don't achieve results.

Step 1: Know your market niche

The first step in developing a successful web site marketing plan is to really understand your market.

You probably already know your niche pretty well, but if you don't, it's worth investing some time on some market research to make sure you fully understand

 * Your competition,

 * Your ideal customers,

 * Partners that can help you scale.

Who is the competition?

What pain point does your product or service solve for your target customers?  What other solutions are available?  That is your competition (it might be products or services that are similar to yours, or it might be completely different ways to solve the problem). 

Put yourself in your customer's shoes and list out the pros and cons for each solution.  What is unique about yours? That will be good input to figuring out your unique selling proposition in the messaging development step (number 6 below).

Who are potential customers?

Describe the different types of customers who might use your product or service.  What are some common characteristics of your existing customers?  Can you describe your ideal future customers? Are they similar to your current clients? Who are NOT your target customers?  Why not?

Who are potential partners/influencers?

Your niche will also have other companies or individuals in it that are neither competitors nor customer prospects. Some might be good partners or collaborators to help connect you with prospects. Others might be influencers who can spread the word about your product to your target audience. 

The best partners will be those that can help you scale: which ones can really accelerate your reach and growth?

Think about the win/win proposition for each of these potential partners to decide which ones will be the best ones to engage. What information or material will they need?

Step 2: Segment your market

After you've finished the overview of your niche in Step 1, you will have a list of potential customer groups, and potential partners or influencers.

How you can group these different players?  Describe the various categories of potential customers, and the types of partners and influencers.

Step 3: Develop segment profiles

After you've defined the different segments in your niche, the next step is to write detailed profiles or personas for each target segment. What are their main characteristics?  Try to get as detailed as you can, and paint a clear picture of an individual person or firm in each segment. You can even name them or find an image if that helps you to make them "real" in your mind.

Step 4: Define your ideal target customer

Go through the detailed segment profiles that you wrote in Step 3, and choose a small number (initially, try to keep it to two or three) that should be the primary target audience for your marketing right now. 

These will be the target audience for your marketing plan.

How do you choose?

Target customer segments which are the most profitable, and those for whom your USP is most attractive, and partners that can help you to reach those target customers at scale.

The final step is to write a single Most Wanted Response (MWR) for each target segment: what exactly do you want them to do in response to your marketing campaign?

Step 5: Understand needs and pain points

We've made great progress!  You now have two to three key market segments that you are trying to reach with your marketing, and you've written a detailed profile for each. 

You know WHO they are. 

Next, you need to understand WHAT they NEED in order to be convinced to buy your product.

Use the questions below to learn more about each of your target segments. Don't try to breeze through this work too quickly - this is a critical component of a well-targeted web site marketing plan.

Answer these questions about each segment:

  • What is the main pain point that your product is helping them solve?  Is it really one of the top issues keeping them awake at night? It's really important to target a top priority for your prospective customer.  If not, they might nod their head and say they like your product, but if it's just a "nice to have" it can be hard to get them to take immediate action today.
  • What information or collateral should you provide that will convince them to buy?
  • Where will they hear about your product or service?  This might include events, magazines, websites, social media, influencers, sales people, mailings, etc. Choose places where your target segment already hangs out.  These are your communication channels.
  • Who else is involved in the decision to buy your product? In a B2B sale there are often other stakeholders or even third party companies that need communications also.  

Step 6: Write your key messages & elevator pitch

Remember that an elevator pitch is not a sales pitch. Your audience is not likely to make a purchase decision in 60 seconds while riding an elevator with you! So your final CTA is not a sales close, it's just a "hint" of what next step a potential customer might take if they were interested (for example: "A lot of my clients start by ordering my super-duper-intro kit on the website, and I find 80% of them sign up for the premium subscription after they've tried it out!"). If you've sparked their curiosity, then they can take it from there.

What is your elevator pitch? It's the 60-second summary of your business and your unique selling proposition. Imagine you're riding in an elevator with a person who fits your target demographic perfectly. They ask you what you do... what do you say?

The first thing to remember is that it must be from your customer's point of view, which is why the points you researched in steps 1-5 are so important:

  • demonstrate that you understand them,
  • acknowledge their pain points,
  • show how your product solves that problem (better than other solutions),
  • demonstrate credibility (experience/know-how/credentials) which will give them confidence in you and your product,
  • if they express interest, then provide a clear next step (CTA - Call to Action) without being pushy.

After you have written a clear, concise elevator pitch (one paragraph) for each target segment, then brainstorm and write down any questions that a prospect might ask after hearing your pitch.  Your "key messages" are basically the answers to those questions - you can even write them down in a Q&A format, which makes it easier for sales and business development folks to use.

Step 7: Define your communications plan

The final step is to bring it all together by writing an marketing communications strategy plan that lays out the guidelines for your marketing decisions moving forward. This will be a key ingredient in your web site marketing plan.

A marketing communications strategy provides the rules that you use to decide which marketing activities are the best ones for your business. How do you know which are best? The best strategies are those which reach your target audience through their preferred communication channels, and communicate your message in the language that they use to describe their problem. 

I will be adding to the store a template you can use to write down your final communications strategy. It should be fairly easy to fill in, if you have done the exercises in Steps 1 through 6. If you'd like an advance look at the template, then feel free to contact us for information. You can also use our web site marketing plan template

Use Your Communications Strategy to Build Your Web Site Marketing Plan

Congratulations!  If you followed the steps above, you now have the blueprint to direct all your marketing decisions and write down a detailed web site marketing plan.

Make sure anyone doing sales or marketing for your product or service follows your communications strategy and web site marketing plan.  Check every marketing opportunity against how well it fits with your strategy so you can focus your budget and resources on marketing activities that will really have an impact on your business.

Get Expert Help For Your Web Site Marketing Plan

If you need some more help to get started on your web site marketing plan, we offer easy-to-use coaching options to give you a hand, answer questions, or even build the plan for you. You can also contact us here or schedule a free 30-minute Discovery Consultation Session on Calendly to learn how we can help with your web site marketing plan.

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