Putting yourself on the Web — hey “selfies” — is pretty easy, right? You might think, like millions of other people, the economy isn’t so great, so why don’t I just put something online and sell it? If Facebook did it, why can’t I? Apps seem easy, so I will just make one and sell it. I see people selling products online so I will do the same. Hey, I heard you can make money from affiliate marketing, so will I. And so on and so on and so on and so on…
I am here to tell you it is hard to be successful launching any online brand, whether company or personal. But, I have some proven tips that will help you to ensure your success, so here are my top three:
1. Make a Business Plan
That’s right. I said business plan. If you seriously want to make money online, you need a real plan, with real research, real validity that clearly supports the market demand, target economics around your concept, and an excellent revenue model.
In the world of digital marketing, this is known as a Digital Marketing Plan. This plan will need to outline your products and services, online target audience and related behaviors, budget for all the elements of online and integrated marketing, resources to fulfill, and specific details about what you need to do in search marketing, social media, online PR, and online media.
Without a plan, you have a higher risk of failure, so consider it.
2. Have the Best User Experience Possible
Whether it is an app, a mobile site, a corporate site, a blog or WordPress site, a social network, a forum, or any other type of Web-based business you are considering, make the user experience the best it can be. To do so, it is always helpful to go through a serious functional plan. If you cannot do that, then at least take the time to think through, analyze, and write out the following elements:
- Who are my target users? What are their profiles? How do they consumer online?
- How do my target users buy? How do they make decisions? How do they research? Who do they influence?
- What does my online brand look like? For this, you should certainly go through some real branding exercises with a professional and get some colleague, client, and target feedback before launching.
3. Review the Playing Field and Then Own a Killer Market Position
To review what successful would-be competitors or others out of industry have done online is smart, but to take it further and stake your claim, you need to consider a unique market position that truly defines your personal or corporate personality. This one takes a good bit of time, research, and decision-making. If you are launching an online personal brand, for example, you would be best served by taking an inventory of your past achievements, current competitive field, low-hanging fruit, and current online presence to consider your strengths, focus, and how you will market.
When launching a corporate brand, you really need to understand your online opportunities for engaging in a supportive social ecosystem, which will drive influence to your potential target. Influencers on the Web for a corporate brand include targeted industry and general business media, online target communities, complementary businesses and related associations, groups, and forums. A review of that ecosystem paired with your intended business value will help to analyze and consider a compelling corporate market position.
These are just three of my tips for ensuring a successful online brand. Again, starting, launching, and managing an online brand is no easy feat. It takes time, real thought, proper planning, and appropriate resources in people, time, and money. I hope that if you are in the business of starting an online business, you will start by following these three tips. Here is to your online branding success.