Do you own a startup? Are you thinking about launching a business online to join the fray of countless entrepreneurs that dream of a better life? Well, we all know that marketing a business, any business, takes work, especially a startup business.
Combine the difficulty of launching and managing a business with the convoluted world of online marketing and its many facets that include things like SEO, content generation, and social media marketing, and it’s enough to send most people into a tailspin.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could easily find yourself drowning in a sea of confusion and misery rather than basking in the glory of success and profitability. If you’re a startup owner, then it’s important that you pay attention to the things you do on a daily basis, because time is money.
Over the years, I’ve started a number of successful businesses. I’ve also started a number of businesses that’ve failed, paving the way for something bigger and better. But through it all I learned some invaluable online marketing experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world, even though some of those failures caused me an enormous amount of heartache, pain, and sleepless nights.
Thinking about my own personal experiences, all told, there are 14 absolutely essential online marketing habits that can either make or break your new venture. Implement these online marketing habits, and over time, you’ll see business success. Ignore them, and you could be in for a wild and very turbulent ride.
#1 — Set Goals
Setting goals is an important habit to develop for anyone, but an especially important one for business owners. Whether you’re running a startup or you’ve been in business for years, setting goals should be a habit that becomes commonplace. However, this isn’t just about setting goals and forgetting them — you need to to engage in active goal setting by creating long-term goals and daily goals.
Create a set of long-term goals first, then fuel those long-term goals by setting goals on a daily basis. The habit of daily goal setting is a great one to develop because small and achievable goals on a daily basis are much more manageable than the bigger goals that we set for ourselves. And, by achieving the daily goals, we’re building momentum towards our long-term goals.
As a business owner, it’s your duty to have some overall goals, but also your imperative to set goals on a daily basis to help you get there. Big things don’t happen overnight, especially when it comes to business. It takes time. But the daily goals help you to inch just a little closer every single day.
#2 — Create Value
One of the underlying online marketing habits for succeeding as a startup, is to create value. While most budding entrepreneurs are in business to enhance their bottom line, it’s the ones who focus on creating value who attain the greatest long-term success. Anyone that ignores this, will fail, plain and simple.
But many people ignore the necessity to create value. They don’t make it habitual. They focus on working in their businesses, rather than working on their businesses. When you’re creating value, you’re working on your business and its long-term success.
The biggest problem? It’s hard to develop a short-term metric for creating value. This underlying online marketing habit is a difficult one to measure, but one that absolutely must be at the basis of everything that you do. Constantly search for ways you can create more value in whatever it is that you’re offering to people than the money paid in exchange for it.
#3 — Wake Up Early
Often, for small business owners, it seems that there isn’t enough time in the day. Being a one-stop team member handling accounting, sales, marketing, customer service, and more will do that to you. In order to address these and all the other demands in our lives, we absolutely must wake up early.
Even if you’re not a morning person, prioritizing this habit is one of the best ways you can improve your chances of succeeding in business. The fact is that 9 out of 10 businesses fail. And if you don’t want to be just another statistic, then you absolutely must wake up early.
But developing the habit of waking up early is difficult. If you’re not a morning person, then you need to figure out a way where you can hack your routine. Shave time off your evening routines, abstain from coffee at least 6 hours before bedtime, or use the micro-habit approach to waking up early.
In the micro-habit approach, you would set your clock back 15 minutes every week for 2 months until you’re waking up at least 2 hours earlier than usual. In the beginning, it will be hard. But, over time, you’ll be juiced about getting so much done in the early morning hours.
#4 — Plan, Plan, Plan
It’s not enough to just set goals. You need to follow a plan. A plan is the GPS system to help you reach your goals. Without it, you’re lost, stranded on the road of life. While the plan isn’t going to help you flesh out every step you need to take to reach your goals, it is going to give you a better sense of direction.
Planning is a habit that absolutely must become ingrained in you if you want to succeed in business. Startup marketing is hard, especially if you’re working on a shoestring budget. In marketing, you either need to have a lot of money or a lot of time. If you have both, then you’re golden. But that’s not usually the case.
The habit of planning involves creating a general plan that will get you to your long-term goals in business, whatever those might be. As long as you have detailed and quantifiable goals, you can work backwards with your plan or split your goals up into milestones and figure what it’s going to take to move you from one milestone to the next.
#5 — Build Authority
It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, the habit of building authority must become ingrained into your daily routine. But building authority is no simple feat. In order for others to look at you as an authority, you have to position yourself as one. To do that, you need to spend your time finding ways that you can contribute to the business community in your niche.
How do you do that? Simply by building great content. While it sounds rather straightforward, it’s nothing of the sorts. It involves a painstakingly heavy amount of work. I can’t even begin to estimate the amount of time I spend creating content that to people with their goals and things like habit development.
When you spend a lot of time trying to help others by building great content, you build authority slowly over time. It doesn’t happen overnight. So don’t expect it to. Further, you’ll need a platform you can share that content. So, if you don’t have a business blog, set one up.
Not only will you need a platform for sharing great content like a blog, but you’ll also need a professional Website with a custom domain name. Using a domain name hosted on another platform is an okay way to start things out, but doesn’t provide the same air of professionalism.
#6 — Be Social
In today’s Internet age, you can’t succeed with a startup, or any other business for that matter, without being social. However, being social doesn’t mean going overboard by constantly sharing updates with your personal network; being social means you need to carefully position your business in the public realm by sharing and adding value to existing conversations.
Be social on the platforms that matter. Ensure that you have a Facebook Page setup for your business, a Twitter account, and a LinkedIn profile. Share things that matter and try not to be excessive about your self-promotion. There’s an art of passively promoting by adding value without having to aggressively cheerlead your offers at ever turn.
Further, find other social groups that matter. Search for communities of people where your prospective customers are gathering, whether on a social media site, message board, or some other online portal, and communicate with people in those mediums. Try to add value to existing conversations in the beginning, and don’t attempt to pitch everyone.
#7 — Ask Questions
Constantly ask yourself questions on a daily basis. The best marketers ask the toughest questions, even if the answers might hurt. If you have existing clients or customers, ask them what they liked or disliked about the experience with you. Were they happy with the service? Was it overpriced? Was it overhyped? Or, was it under-promised but over-delivered? Of course, it’s the latter that we’re after here.
Find a way you can ask these questions without being too invasive. Setup a profile on popular Websites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and others. Then, solicit feedback and reviews from your customers by placing a link in your signature or on your Website to passively garner their thoughts about working with you.
This also shows that you’re serious about customer service and that you’re willing to go that extra mile, so to speak. When people know that they can leave some feedback about their experience with you on trusted sites, they might even be more willing to work with you in the first place. Being open and transparent like this can enormously assist you in helping to grow your business.
#8 — Seek Advice
Even the most successful people understand that they don’t know everything. Sometimes, we all need a little bit of personal advice. While reading posts like the one can help give you a better understanding for the best marketing habits to have, someone that personally knows your situation can probably offer up even better, and far more custom-tailored advice.
Find a business mentor and seek their assistance where possible. Mentors are a great way to have someone in your corner who’s already been through the wringer. They’ve gone through the ups and downs and have achieved success in business. Relying on their trusted advice is one of the best gifts that you can give yourself as a startup owner.
Nearly every great entrepreneur has found an equivalently great mentor. Seeking advice can be hard for some, especially when it comes to our very-fragile egos. But, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. This is an essential online marketing habit and one that should become nearly commonplace for every startup business owner.
#9 — Resolve Problems
Being a problem-solver is an essential online marketing habit. When problems arise, wherever they might reside in your business, you have two choices: stay and face the music, or run like the wind. When we have so much going on, it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. When our obligations stretch us too thin, dealing with problems that might arise can be stressful to say the least.
However, when we fail to resolve problems, they can fester and grow into something far greater. So we need to make it an essential daily habit to tackle problems immediately. Whether it’s a problem with a product or service, customer, or other business issue, problems should immediately be resolved as soon as they rear their ugly heads.
There’s nothing like allowing a problem to grow that can’t kill a business faster. It can also help to ruin your business’s reputation. Warren Buffet once said “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Those words carry an enormous amount of truth with them.
#10 — Sweat the Small Stuff
Likely, we could all resolve to be a little bit more detail-oriented. But, whether you call this anal or meticulous, it’s all based on perspective. When it comes to business, it’s the small stuff that counts. If you have a knack for habitually ignoring the small details, you might find launching and running your startup incredibly difficult.
The small stuff matters at every level of the playing field when it comes to business. From the initial details on how you decide to incorporate your business and setup your banking relationships, to how meticulously you build and design your products or services, and to just what standard you hold yourself when it comes to living up to your own marketing hype, the details matter big time.
Every business owner must develop the habit of sweating all the details, no matter how small they might be. But, developing this habit isn’t easy. Take the time identify all the little things that require your attention. Make a list. No matter how small it might be, check it off your list one by one. People most certainly notice the little things and they absolutely make all the difference in business.
#11 — Analyze and Track
To succeed with your startup, you have to be a stickler for the numbers. Analyze and track everything when it comes to marketing your business. Whether you’re engaged in content creation, SEO, or any other online marketing activity, create a spreadsheet and track your results on a daily basis. Over time, you’ll see just how much progress you’re making.
In marketing, it’s all about the numbers. Knowing what’s working and what’s not is at the very core of a successful startup at nearly any stage. From where the money is going when it comes to your marketing and other expenses, to where the money is coming from in regards to sources of revenue, you absolutely must track everything.
Setup a system for tracking all of your efforts. Use any type of spreadsheet to track the numbers and do it on a daily basis. Then, plot those numbers on a graph and watch them like a hawk. Use the numbers to help guide your plan towards your goals. If you see that something isn’t working, take initiative to change it before it’s too late. Without tracking the numbers, identifying potential issues can become troublesome.
Tracking also helps when you can identify what’s actually working with your marketing efforts and you can use that information to scale out. For example, if you were able to spend $200 in advertising your business and make $800 from online purchases, then scaling out those efforts might be the ticket to really bring about explosive growth in sales.
#12 — Implement the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of the results comes from 20% of the efforts. In sales, this means that 80% of the sales comes from 20% of the clients. In marketing, it also means that 80% of the income will come from 20% of your efforts. The rule applies across the board no matter what we’re talking about.
The fact of the matter is that running a business is hard. We end up getting caught up in so many different issues that can completely derail our progress. However, when we can identify the 20% of our efforts that are bringing in 80% of our results, we can rest a little bit more easy.
This is where tracking and analyzing the numbers pays off. Without that particular marketing habit, identifying the 80/20 Rule becomes far more difficult. It becomes more like a guessing game. Spend the time to analyze your efforts and results using the Pareto Principle and go after those efforts as aggressively as possible.
#13 — Effectively Manage Your Time
Effective time management is a habit that all business owners absolutely must develop in order to achieve business success. This isn’t just about startups; this is about anyone who is anyone that is looking to successfully manage a business or become a great entrepreneur.
To effectively manage your time and properly develop this habit, you need to choose a good system for time management. The quadrant time management system is probably one of the most powerful ones that you could select. The quadrant system was originally developed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and later popularized by Stephen R. Covey.
In the quadrant system, all your time is split up into 4 categories based on two factors: urgency and importance. Things are either urgent, important, or some combination of the two. The goal? Stay away from things that are neither urgent nor important such as time-wasters. And ensure that you’re doing as much to tackle the activities that are not urgent but very important such as those things related to your long-term goals.
#14 — Stay Persistent
The last, but certainly not least of the best marketing habits for startups, is persistence. While you might not think persistence is a habit, it most certainly is. In any given day, we have upwards of 60,000 thoughts, many of which occur in our subconscious minds. The bad news? A large portion of those thoughts are fear-based thoughts that help with the onset of anxiety and stress.
Staying persistent, is when we work to counteract those thoughts in the mind. It’s also a way that we push through even when the going gets tough. It’s how we avoid giving up and throwing that proverbial towel in and counting ourselves out. That’s not an option.
Launching and managing a business is incredibly hard, especially a startup one, and times are most certainly going to get tough. There will be moments when you want to kick, scream, and curse from the mountaintop. If it were easy, don’t you think everyone would do it?
Identify and implement some motivational strategies that will help you push through the hard times, and fill your mind with inspirational wisdom and material on a daily basis. While things might get difficult from time to time, the bigger picture is what’s most important. Don’t lose sight of your goals and why you wanted to do what you’re doing in the first place.
Remember, nothing in life that’s worthwhile is going to come easy. It’s going to take work — a lot of work. But, in the end, is it worth it? It most definitely is.