Can you believe it’s already February?
While I’m sure many of you have been busy starting to implement your 2015 business plans, while others are still in the process of creating them, there’s one business plan you may have forgotten to create and start implementing: your 2015 online business plan.
What is an online business plan, and why is it important to have one? How do you go about creating one?
An online business plan is a plan meant to complement, not replace, your existing business plan for 2015. A business plan, in general, is created to boost efficiency, through time management and systems creation. You want to create an online business plan to ensure your online efforts mirror and maximize your offline efforts. There are 6 easy steps to creating your 2015 online business plan:
Step 1: Identify Your Goals
Ask yourself, “What are my online goals?” Do you want more engagement? More leads? Expanded advertising? To continue conversations with existing clients? Knowing why you’re online will help determine what you use and how you go about using online tools.
Step 2: Identify Your Audience
Just as knowing the “why” you’re online, you need to know who you’re focusing on. Many real estate agents make the mistake of trying to appeal to everyone; the theory is that everyone is in the market for real estate, so agents should be focusing on everyone. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get lost when you’re focused on everyone. Instead, let’s focus on who you actually want to be selling to.
Take a sheet of paper or open a blank page on your favorite word processing or note-taking program. Now ask yourself: “Who’s my ideal client?” Where do they live? What kind of home do they want – single-family, apartment, etc.? What’s their job? Do they need to commute? How much money do they currently make? What can they actually afford? What are their life goals and long-term plans? Now, name your ideal client or clients. (e.g. George and Martha)
Now, whenever you post or do anything online, know you’re aiming that marketing at George and Martha.
Step 3: Decide Where to Be Online
Now you know “who” you’re you’re going to be marketing to and “why” you’re marketing to them, you have to decide where you need to be online to reach your ideal clients with your message. Every online and social platform has a different demographic it appeals to, and a different purpose for being there.
A website can offer content and search capability as well as lead capture possibilities. Social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and Google+, are meant to be kept more social; you should be using those platforms to have conversations, allowing people to see who you are and listening to your ideal clients about what they want. Certain platforms, like Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube, are meant to appeal to the more visually-oriented client. A more literal client may prefer content on a blog or “just the facts” as offered on platforms like LinkedIn.
Step 4: PICK TWO
That’s right. Of the places you decided in Step 3 about where you want to be online…pick two.
Two online platforms allow you to measure your efforts in each space, to see how people respond differently as you approach them in those spaces and to allow you to more fully concentrate your efforts without needless distractions in other spaces.
Pick two, and be awesome at them.
Step 5: Treat Online Like a Business
Many people consider going online to be a reward or a break from their daily business. If you’re committed to being online as part of your business, however, you need to treat your online activities as a business as well. These are some ways you can treat online as a business:
- Make SMART (Specific, Measured, Actionable, Realistic and Timely) goals about your online efforts.
- Engage in time blocking and time management around your online activities.
- Create content calendars to continue consistency.
- Use social scheduling services (like Buffer, HootSuite, etc.) to assist you.
- Commit yourself to a drip campaign.
- Budget your advertising online as you would budget your advertising offline.
- Engage in and understand your analytics – is this working for you?
Step 6: Know Thyself
Finally, you have to know yourself. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? We have a tendency to not engage or fully participate in things we’re not good at – and then let things fall by the wayside when they seemingly get too difficult.
Identify where in your plan you might struggle: email management? Blog posts? Newsletter campaigns? Monitoring analytics? Make sure to have people, on stand-by or working with you on a regular basis, that you know can help you not only remain accountable, but keep you from falling. Being truthful about who you are and what you are most likely to do well and do poorly will only lead to greater success in 2015.