Planning Ahead for 2007

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Now is a great time to start thinking about how to drive traffic to your website next year, like getting the word out on TV, radio, and direct-mail campaigns.

With the arrival of the holiday season, many e-commerce site owners and managers breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, we can relax, perhaps take a vacation, and simply close out what was hopefully a successful 2006. Well, maybe. That's because December and early January are also the perfect time to analyze what's worked over the past 11 months and put together an integrated marketing plan for 2007.

We've all heard it: "Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance." It's a saying that reaches far beyond the world of business and marketing. However, without a strong marketing plan, you're likely to be winging it over the year ahead, and no self-respecting businessperson would ever admit to winging it when it comes to running a business.

Like most online businesses, your plan will likely start off with the main objective of driving relevant traffic to your website. Next, you'll want to convert as many of these visitors into customers. And lastly, you'll want to do this profitably, thereby keeping ROI in the black.

Speaking of ROI, you'll need a budget to ensure the "I" exists. While we could spend all-day on budgeting, the only person who knows best how much you can afford to spend on marketing is you. Whatever your method, I always recommend sticking to your guns in making 80 percent of your marketing budget pre-planned, and the remaining 20 percent off-the-cuff, non-planned stuff that may present itself midway through the year. Again, all you need is that magic number so you can stay on course with the marketing roadmap you're creating.

Now it's time to put the plan to paper. With objectives and budget in-hand, we get to the fun stuff. The creative tactics available to us, like TV, radio, print, mail, PR, online, and more. You might have noticed I've placed online marketing last. That's because I want to take you out of your comfort zone and get you thinking outside of the box. Not that I want you to abandon what works, just that you'll need to consider testing other marketing tactics since your objective is, after all, to grow the business this year.

Taking a quick look at TV advertising, companies like Spotrunner.com can get you on-air with a customized spot and super-targeted media plan for roughly $2,500, maybe less. Not exactly a huge monetary boundary, and worth keeping your eyes on.

Radio advertising can be done with even less money, especially when you look at remnant space buyers and planners like Bid4Spots.com or dMarc by Google (yes, Google). Create your spot, pick your areas and within a few days your spots are airing for the lowest prices possible, and all it takes to get you started is $1,000.

Look to MediaBids.com for your print testing campaign -- again, a company focused on remnant or unsold inventory and bidding processes. Another $1,000 (or less) gets you into publications that would normally have cost us twice or triple that amount.

In addition to TV, radio, and print advertising ideas, there are also hundreds of providers of good-quality direct mail and online advertising. While you're doing your holiday shopping over the next few weeks (and I hope you're buying online), make a commitment to shop for new and innovative ideas and vendors that you would want to test out in 2007. Then, simply put these tests in your integrated marketing plan schedule along with your objectives and budget. The end-result should be a well thought-out plan that'll turn into business success for you in 2007.

Last updated: Dec 13, 2006




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