5 Things To Know About Online Marketing Before Starting Your Own Business

December 1st, 2016 by Search Influence Alumni

With 2017 quickly approaching, there are many people who are dreaming about starting their own businesses. Before jumping in, here are five things you should know about online marketing as an entrepreneur just getting started. Three tips are from guests Mike Blumenthal, David Mihm, and Greg Sorenson, and two are from yours truly.

1: Scale Is Everything

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Mike Blumenthal runs an amazing blog that keeps up with the most recent changes in online marketing and Google in particular. As a founding partner of GetFiveStars.com (a reputation management platform), Mike is known by many as “Professor Maps” due to his wealth of knowledge around the local search ecosystem. He was one of the first people I thought to interview for this blog.

According to Mike, he doesn’t necessarily consider himself an “entrepreneur,” but “rather, someone that is trying to find their way through life by helping others be and do better AND not have to work for someone else. That ethos, which evolved over a number of years in business, helped me be clear about what I am doing and why.”

I asked Mike what’s something he wish he knew before getting started in our industry, and he had the following to say:

  • I grew up in a family business and all I knew was family as partners. That was true well into my career. I wish I knew that family doesn’t always make the best partners as they may not be flexible enough in this new age of constant change.
  • Find and work with partners that not only share your core values but also have skills you don’t yet have. You can help each other out and make the enterprise more effective for all.
  • Recognize that we are in a market economy and, as such, any company is at the mercy of that economy. It takes thoughtfulness and hard work to succeed but never for a moment delude yourself that your success is controllable or fully due to that hard work and thinking. It is just as easy to fail as succeed in today’s world, and often, you are but a passenger (victor or victim) in a much bigger exercise that is not of your own making.
  • Scale is everything. You can scale with people or you can scale with software. But realize that if it is just you, there are concrete limits to what you can do and can continue to do in a given period of time. But scaling, while easy to say, is not as easy to do. It has taken me several tries to even get close.
  • In the end, there is nothing special about being an “entrepreneur.” It is just a different way of moving through the world, putting food on your table for the ones you love and hopefully helping others.

2: Address Online Reviews, Good and Bad

Responding to reviews online is crucial when it comes to showing that you’re engaged and active with your community and customers. As I mentioned in my blog on “4 Tips To Manage The Reputation Of Your Online Business,” it is often assumed that large franchises and multi-location businesses are too big to handle the relatively large amount of feedback they receive. While it’s much easier to respond to positive reviews, responding to negative reviews gracefully and respectfully can also lead to an improved reputation for your business.

3: Pay Close Attention to Google Updates

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David Mihm is a co-founder of GetListed.org (now Moz Local) and a leader in Local search engine marketing. When asked what he wish he knew before going into online marketing, he said:

For one thing, Google’s a huge company with many different departments, not to mention a crazily complex algorithm, and it’s unlikely that the statements made by the webmaster team are infallibly correct. More importantly, statements that come from Googlers are not designed to serve webmasters’ interests; they’re designed to serve Google’s interests. So, take every comment Google makes with a grain of salt, and to the extent that you can, test their statements (and your hypotheses) with what you actually see happening in business decisions on a big scale, and in search results on a small one.

4: Your Website Needs to Load Quickly

In my presentation on “10 Ways To Improve Traffic To Your Site,” I mentioned the importance of good site speed. Site speed is the amount of time a page on your website needs to completely load. This matters not just for search engine visibility and ranking users and search engines, as users are less likely to stay on a website that takes a long time to load and search engines will penalize your website for being too slow. Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool is great for analyzing your site for ways to improve your site speed and it will provide you with detailed information on how to fix each issue.

5: Start with Concrete Marketing Goals

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Greg Sorensen, vice president at Baker Maid Products, Inc., works with retail customers to help conceptualize new products and bring them to market. He works with a production staff to ensure they are producing quality products efficiently by trying to improve our production infrastructure. Greg also manages all of their accounts directly and seeks out new retail customers such as grocery chains, specialty food stores, and online food retailers. Last but not least, he helps steer the direction of their marketing efforts with the help of their social media associate and their operations manager.

When asked what he wish he knew about online marketing before going into his current field, Greg said the following:

Anything. Honestly, I knew nothing about online marketing when I was starting out. Partly because we had no budget, but also, at the time, online marketing seemed somewhat mystifying. I wish I had known more about crafting a strategy as opposed to just doing a hodgepodge of ideas and hoping it worked out. It is easy to waste money that way. You must have concrete goals and a well-researched plan to achieve them.

Hopefully, these five tips will help you in starting your own endeavor with a few less roadblocks or missed opportunities.