“It’s more than a plan, it’s a philosophy.”

Entering the online marketing world is overwhelming. You may fell nauseous at first, as if someone spun you around 10 times and then told you to walk straight. Thankfully it’s not an impossible task. Tony Wright, CEO of WrightIMC, has been there. After building a company from scratch, he has more than a few words of wisdom for people who are a little confused on where to start.

Tony has more of a traditional background in marketing. If you’re familiar with an intro level class of marketing, your professor more or less tried to beat into your brain how to create a marketing plan.

  • Discover your target audience
  • Distribution channels
  • Select your media – both earned and unearned
  • Get creative – make something flashy
  • Execute, sit back and wait
Sound about right? I can recall this list as my first marketing professor, Dr. Manzer, tried his best to enlighten us. While he probably left off the last point not to discourage us, it’s dead on. If you translate this into the average marketing plan five years ago, it may have looked like this:
  • Go to MySpace
  • Get a MySpace account
  • Buy some Adwords
  • Think about ways to improve your site: but don’t execute any of those ideas.
  • Worry about the home page. SEO, that’s snake oil. Maybe we’ll buy some banners?

In hindsight it all seems a bit ridiculous but the seasoned audience members nod in agreement. Only two points actually spell out an actionable that could potentially stimulate your company. And MySpace is only half relevant because it doesn’t have a consistent nature – as we are well aware of now. The others are hypothetical solutions that vaguely support an online presence. Your website is the only piece of the marketing puzzle you completely control. If you think about, you decide:

  • When and what to publish
  • The platform
  • Look and feel
  • The budget

Aside from your own site, you are at the mercy of the provider. Outside sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc., are peripheral medias should work to drive visitors to two places.

Your Website:

  • 92% of marketing dollars are spent on driving traffic, 8% is spent on doing something with that traffic – this is wrong.
  • “There is no gravity online to push customers through the funnel. A conversion rate optimization can produce gravity.” – From Jeffrey Eisenberg’S Keynote Speech at PubCon Austin, 2010

The Phone:

  • It still works.
  • Some people just gotta talk, especially on big ticket or big decision items.
  • Call tracking platforms greatly increase attribution and accountability.

It’s great if you have a ton of followers, likes or picture comments on supporting sites. But if you can’t turn interaction into conversions, than what good it really doing?

OOOH, Something Shiny!

Who doesn’t love shinny things? They come in all forms and they show up in your marketing strategy. Keep your customers focused. Your content: print, television, radio, online etc., needs to point customers to your website. Don’t get suckered into going for shiny objects.

  • Conversations should happen on your website where you control the process.
  • Never use your marketing dollars to promote someone else’s site (unless you are in pharma).

Brick and mortar (the basics) still sells, but drive the customer back to your website to increase the value of the sale. QR codes, offers, coupons and additional information are all good ways to get the customer to interact. Tony’s not saying hide out on your website. Expansion is great in the right channels and it also helps you determine where you need to focus your ad dollars, be it promoted tweets or Facebook ads.

If you’re just starting out and feel like you’re going to drown, take three deep breaths, reread this post and start creating your strategy. It’s going to take some time and a few tears but Tony has already tested the waters for you. All you need to do is come on in.

Tony Wright has spent the last 15+ years helping companies and their brands navigate their online space. He is a featured speaker at various conferences across the country where he shares his knowledge on SEO, reputation management and social spaces. If you didn’t get an opportunity to catch him at PubCon Vegas 2011, he’ll be PubCon Paradise 2012 in Hawaii. Follow him on twitter at @tonynwright.