The biggest thing that held back my first web hosting company [back in the early 2000s] was I didn’t know how to effectively market.
Like most Internet Entrepreneurs, I was very technical, but lacked some of the most basic sales skills that allowed for my companies to “take off.”
Immediately after graduating college in 2007 I spent every waking second learning the ins and outs of affiliates marketing; hence learning how to market.
Unfortunately, much of my time was spent marketing low-quality products and services that didn’t provide a good user experience.
Therefore I learned a lot about marketing, but peddling other people’s crap (seriously some of the products/services were no good), left for inconsistent revenues playing a game of cat and mouse.
The problem I see with a lot of our Resellers, is they have the knowledge to create their businesses, setup their websites, and offer a high-quality product but they lack the marketing experience.
Many don’t realize they actually have the “hard part” out of the way. Marketing isn’t difficult but it’s also something that doesn’t take care of itself.
Step 1 – Develop A Marketing Plan
“Buying some ads on Google Adwords” isn’t a marketing plan. Paid advertising is just one marketing channel or part of your marketing plan.
You should actually sit down and develop marketing plan that lists out the following:
- Who Are You Trying To Reach?
- What Is Your Target Product?
- What Is Your Initial Budget?
- What Problems Are You Helping Your Target Audience Solve?
These are just some brain-storming questions that allow you to develop an effective marketing plan.
Once you know who it is you’re trying to reach you can then focus your time on reaching them.
Step 2 – Setup Your Marketing Channels
Every company out there has access to each of these marketing channels, but it’s how you use them that makes all the difference in the world.
Rather you’re a one-person startup or a large corporation, you should have these setup:
- Blog (The Core To Your Inbound Marketing Success)
- Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube)
- Search Engine Optimization (Basic On-Page SEO, Link Building)
- Email Lists (Potential Customers & Current Customers Segmented)
- Paid Advertising (Google Adwords, Facebook, Re-Targeting)
If you don’t have big pockets to fund paid advertising channels, that doesn’t mean your startup is a fish out of water! It just means you have to work harder using the channels available to you!
Step 3 – Execute Your First Campaign
Now here comes the hard part for many – how do you execute your marketing strategy?
Once you know who you’re trying to reach, what product is your main focus, and how you’re going to distribute your message, you need to get creative and develop an advertising campaign.
This is what pulls everything together and “spins the wheel” so to speak to turn prospects into paying customers.
Some effective ways to create campaigns:
- Focus On Solving Your Target Audiences Problems
- Use Specific Times Of The Year To Offer Discounts (i.e. Summer, Spring, Holidays)
- Leverage Viral Trends (Our Biggest Campaign Last Year Was “Making Hosting Great Again”)
- Offer Discounts Through Re-Targeting To Customers Who Abandoned Your Checkout Page
- Participate In Industry Events And Discussion Forums
Spending big ad dollars on a campaign isn’t the only way to execute it. If you don’t have money to spend on ads, focus on free distribution areas such as press releases, commenting on influencers within your target audience, and be active on LinkedIn/Facebook groups.
Step 4 – Be Consistent
The “secret” to being an effective marketer is to be consistent.
If writing one blog post a day is out of question for you, focus on writing one really good one per week.
It’s free to film a video and upload it on YouTube. But doing this once “whenever you feel like it” won’t be enough.
Draft a spreadsheet in Excel and create a “content calendar” that displays a schedule that works with you with your available resources.
The lower your budget it, the more “organic” traffic you’re going to have to take advantage of. This gives both small and large companies level playing ground.
Step 5 – Don’t Be Afraid Of Failure / Criticism
The Internet is full of haters and trolls that will try their best to get you down. But don’t let it bother you!
Once you get a couple troll comments – you’ll know you’re reaching people!
The only sure way to fail at marketing is to do nothing. Get creative, produce content, and get the word out about your company.
I consider myself a marketing veteran but some of my ideas still don’t pan out as I would hope. But rather than “giving up” when I have a campaign that doesn’t work – I go back to the drawing board – leveraging what I learned to be stronger the next time.
When I ask beginners why they don’t Podcast or Film Videos they’ll tell me “they’re not good at it.” Practice makes perfect! Even if your first couple videos aren’t that great – you will get better the more you do. Don’t make excuses, they’ll only hold you back!
What I once considered my “weak link” I now consider my favorite thing to do. I wake-up each morning wondering what “crazy idea” I’ll try next to set Name Hero apart from the competition.
Ryan Gray is the founder and CEO of NameHero, one of the fastest growing independent web hosts in the United States. Ryan has been working online since 1998 and has over two-decades experience in Internet Entrepreneurship.