May
2
2012

If you fail to plan – you plan to fail

If You Fail To Plan – You Plan To Fail, As The Saying Goes – How To Avoid That Happening To Your Business 

Internet businesses don’t “all of a sudden” fail. It takes months, and years, before a successful business will eventually die. If it’s a small company, it may never get off the ground. Technically, the business doesn’t “die” in this case. It just never gets established. In both cases, a business failure is caused by improper planning.

A business plan doesn’t just include sales projections (although this is part of it). A plan consists of defining a corporate vision, making a sales and marketing plan, and devising goals that make sense for the company.

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Defining A Corporate Vision
Even online companies need a vision statement. Without it, the company degenerates into another “.com” tragedy. You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t have a corporate vision. A vision is like the dream you have for your company. It’s the end-point on a road map If you have goals without a purpose or corporate vision, you are basically going to “drive aimlessly on a road map” Since you have no destination, no end-goal, no purpose for doing what you’re doing, you can never formulate a business plan that makes sense for your company.

The best way to formulate a good corporate vision is by writing down an action statement. This action statement could be anything, but it should encapsulate the essential nature of your company and what you’re trying to do. If you’re too vague, you won’t have anything to work towards, so be specific. For example, if you’re a bank, your vision might be to “make loans” or “to lend money to customers and help them fulfill their financial goals.”

A corporate vision that is both specific and action-oriented guarantees that your company is action-oriented. Action statements are, by their very nature, concrete and have a way of solidifying what it is you’re trying to accomplish. If you ever get confused, or feel lost, you can look at that action statement and regain your focus.

Make Your Marketing Plan
In the online world, it’s all about SEO, paid traffic, and conversion. Most people mistakenly believe that online businesses can just “exist.” In other words, “if you build it, they will come.” That might have been true in the early 1990s, but you can’t get away with that kind of strategy anymore.

A legitimate business needs backlinks to help build traffic to the site. Backlinking is a long-term marketing strategy. It’s designed to improve search engine rankings slowly, but when you are well-positioned in the major search engines, it really takes a lot to lose your ranking.

Paid traffic includes pay-per-click marketing, banner ads, and other forms of paid advertising. Perhaps the most well-known form of advertising online is Google’s Adwords. This type of advertising drives immediate traffic to your website. It tends to be more expensive than SEO over the long-term, but you get to control the quality of leads and the sales message. You can also change your ad campaign “on the fly” with platforms like Adwords.

Part of running a successful paid campaign is running numbers and coming up with a hypothetical profit. Then, run the campaign and tweak as necessary.

For example, when you run a test campaign, try to shoot for a click-through rate of about 6 to 10 percent. This is a very solid CTR for Adwords. Along with a good CTR, you want a good conversion and cost-per-click. If your conversion is 6 percent, but the clicks are $5 a piece and it nets you $2, then that campaign is unworkable. It would obviously be better to have a 4 percent CTR with a cost-per-click of $2 and sales yielding $5 per click.

For SEO, focus on strategies that will yield long-term benefits and not short-term benefits. The so-called “Black Hat” SEO strategies might yield good results in the short-term, but you risk being banned from the search results if you’re caught. Worse, you could end up wasting a lot of money and time employing shady SEO tactics and still not get the same kind of targeted traffic that’s possible with a good paid campaign.

 

Liz Goldman

Elizabeth Goldman

Guest post written by Liz Goldman and brought to you by Wonga – the short-term loan experts.

Liz Goldman is a freelance writer and makes regular contributions to a number of well known sites. Having previously worked as a successful stock market trader and marketing executive, she now concentrates on writing and raising a family.