Online Promotions

Vintage storefront

If you want my first steps in how to set up the mechanics of an online promotion (or at least the simplified version I’m willing to explain for free), I do the following: plan, create, launch, rework, conclude. I’ll walk you through it at the high level.

The Plan

The parts of my plan are: goals and resources, mechanics, content, contingencies. I write out notes on the following.

  1. Determine my goal: sales, sign-ups, links, awareness, etc.
  2. Determine my target: what’s a win? (Write out metrics accordingly).
  3. Determine my area of approach: where are the people I want to reach.
  4. Determine my resources: who can help.
  5. Design my site or static resources.
  6. Determine the tools I’ll use and in which areas.
  7. Decide the mix of ads and marketing (PPC/SEO stuff, placement, and then social media).
  8. Sketch out the content for all of this (ad copy, creative, blog posts, social networking stories, blogger outreach angles).
  9. List my potential outreach resources (and develop a blogger outreach plan).
  10. Write up contingency planning and error handling.

Create

If I’m going to use the online world, I want to do more than make ads and banners. I work on blog posts, including text and video and audio versions. I also seek out interview opportunities and other PR-like opportunities to stretch out the experience. I also sketch out what I think the various social media channels and email marketing will look like. For example, if it’s going to be something we promote via Twitter, what are our angles? How will we get people interested? That’s part of the “create” phase for me, though it always changes as we engage in the conversations. Blogger outreach is also part of the “create” phase, because it’s important to be sure that the story you’re hoping to tell aligns with the bloggers you’d like to have work on the project.

Launch

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. This is the execution of the plan. I’ve drawn a little simple graphic to show you some of what I think about when I do online promotions with social media.

A simplified plan for online promotions

I create different short URLs for the various places where I promote, so that I know which ones drove what amount of traffic. If you do blogger outreach, it’s cool to give each blogger their own code, so that you can track who pulled what. I keep that all on a spreadsheet, so I can remember where I put which. This also helps me graph out who spread things the furthest. If I see a blogger take a short URL across Twitter, Facebook, their blog, YouTube, and wherever else, I know that the person is an excellent sneezer for future projects.

At launch is where we execute the bigger plans. What comes next is usually where the most value-add can be derived.

Rework

Plans aren’t bulletproof. Things change. Sometimes, timing is off. Other times, someone doesn’t promote as much as you’d hoped (I certainly don’t always deliver as much as some folks would wish). Whatever the case, you should always have a “rework” phase in your plans so that you can adjust your tactics and better deliver on your strategy. I earn my paycheck in the rework section, because no plan ever goes off without a hitch.

Conclude

In this stage of the promotion, you do a lot of thanking. Thank your blogger outreach partners. Thank the PR people who helped you place stories. Thank those who tweeted out the promotion (or at least the ones who really pushed it hard).

You also work through all the particulars of counting up your efforts versus your targets, your metrics, and checking around to see how things really moved or didn’t move the needle. You write out the parts of the plan that worked well, so that you never lose “that thing that worked so well” that seems to get lost in the aftermath. You also keep track of any names of dissenters and/or potential sources of negative pushback, so that you can try and learn from what you could’ve done better (and so you know where your opposition might come from next time).

Another note into the conclude phase: keep an eye on the competition for the next few months. See what, if any, of your promotions gets copied by their team. It’s not like you do anything particular with this, but it’s worth noting.

Your Mileage May Vary

The parts I didn’t write about as much involved the whole SEO/PPC, keywords, etc, part of the story. I don’t work as much on that part of promotions, and when I do, I tend to integrate my work with what people have already done (so I don’t often start it from scratch). There are much better blogs than mine covering that part of promotions, so I didn’t cover it in as much detail.

You might have more success in one platform over another. Maybe Facebook is your favorite. Maybe it’s MySpace. Maybe it’s Orkut. Don’t let my notes and ideas cloud your efforts to find where people are doing what they do. LinkedIn might be the ideal spot for your efforts, and then there’d be a whole part of your plan to address groups, network status, LinkedIn Answers, and other tactics. You can adjust these ideas to fit your reality.

Any Questions?

How else can I be helpful? What did I miss? What’s working well for you?

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  • http://vibgyortel.in/sms-reseller-solutions SMS Reseller

    What a compliment, Andy. Your article is inspiring and informative which in turn inspired my response. You provide a much needed service to the industry and I am a definite subscriber from now on.

  • http://raulcolon.net Raul Colon

    Awesome… To get the whole family. I would really like to get my parents involved in something like this (not sure they would be interested).

    Big props to your parents.

  • http://emoneymakingonline.com Mr.Ven

    Tracking is the best part of online promotion. If un-tracked all the efforts are gone, you could not figure out what caused the results ? and what caused the failures ? Tracking helps for effective Reworking and future planning. Nicely said, the steps i see: Plan->Create -> Launch -> Track -> Rework -> Conclude…

  • http://emoneymakingonline.com Mr.Ven

    Tracking is the best part of online promotion. If un-tracked all the efforts are gone, you could not figure out what caused the results ? and what caused the failures ? Tracking helps for effective Reworking and future planning. Nicely said, the steps i see: Plan->Create -> Launch -> Track -> Rework -> Conclude…

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Very interesting information.

    So, if you are doing blogger outreach, it would make sense to try to send the special URLs to folks like yourself because they’d have the biggest reach, right? And then some leading people in whatever niche you’re trying for. It seems like if you are looking for saturation, it might be advantageous to send the URL to as many bloggers as possible and create a grass roots campaign though, so that you know for sure your link will appear in at least x number blogs.

    Which is the better way to go?

  • http://trafficcoleman.com/blog/official-black-seo-guy/ Black Seo Guy

    No I think you cover the basic..and I like the spread sheet, because I do that also to keep track of my traffic when it comes to my url’s

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Chendry

    Wow, you just handed out a million dollars worth of great advice – for free, no less.

  • http://twitter.com/PeterPaluska Peter Paluska

    Nice thorough coverage there, Chris.
    Definitely one to “save” and refer to now and then as needed.
    Thank you!

    Peter

  • http://twitter.com/PeterPaluska Peter Paluska

    Nice thorough coverage there, Chris.
    Definitely one to “save” and refer to now and then as needed.
    Thank you!

    Peter

  • http://www.nickvmedia.net/twitter-landing-page.html Nick Venturella

    Tis the season for giving…thanks for giving us some insight into your approach. I love to see others’ thought processes. I will likely try some of your ideas.

    I think you did this well in your numbered list, but it’s worth noting again: you have to begin with your objectives–what do you want to get out of your efforts?

    Keep up the great work, Chris.

  • http://www.nickvmedia.net/twitter-landing-page.html Nick Venturella

    Tis the season for giving…thanks for giving us some insight into your approach. I love to see others’ thought processes. I will likely try some of your ideas.

    I think you did this well in your numbered list, but it’s worth noting again: you have to begin with your objectives–what do you want to get out of your efforts?

    Keep up the great work, Chris.

  • http://twitter.com/IrinaKremin Irina Kremin

    Great post, I am a specially like the “thanking” part, I just realized that we definitely can do more of it.

  • http://damangmedia.com/ Matt Clark – Damang Media

    Thanks for sharing Chris, it is a great process. I will put this process into play on a promo I am just about to start and let you know how it comes together.

  • Anonymous

    Can see that year is rapping up. Everyone is starting to write articles that will help us prepare ourselves for 2011.

    Just read a great article by Danny Brown. With a little touch of Chris Brogan to my 2011 approach soon I am getting that Emiril BAM effect..

    Great info here :)

    Cheers.. Are

  • http://matthewm.org Matt Medeiros

    “because no plan ever goes off without a hitch.”

    Rework is the most crucial part of all this. Shockingly, it’s overlooked. I recently talked to a guy who stops promoting his website January – March. His reasoning was, he never saw growth in those months.

    He isn’t reworking like he should be.

  • http://www.marknathwani.com/ Mark – Life Coach

    How can you create the short URL formats as convenient to your tracking? If you want to give out your link to place it on somebody’s blog/site, it is possible to track but how would you customize the URL according to the website URL when you are going to publish for marketing purposes(twitter/facebook)?

  • http://www.joemanna.com/blog/ Joseph Manna

    Excellent example, Chris. Love reading the way you think so it helps all of us. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/saraoliver_prmk Sara Oliver, LLC

    Well written. Most people forget to rework and to anticipate error when creating a plan. The thanking part is something I need to learn to do. Great job of covering all of the bases.

  • http://twitter.com/saraoliver_prmk Sara Oliver, LLC

    Well written. Most people forget to rework and to anticipate error when creating a plan. The thanking part is something I need to learn to do. Great job of covering all of the bases.

  • http://twitter.com/odonnellsteve Steve O’Donnell

    You should also have rules posted somewhere, and they should comply with the laws in your jurisdiction(s). At the very least, limit the scope of your promotion to the US (or greater/lesser depending on your targets). Absolutely no reason to open yourself up to more problems then necessary.

  • http://thinksync.com.au Kelsey Brookes

    What an awesome term. ‘Sneezer’. Love it. We need more sneezers!

  • Don Van Patten

    I love the rework step. I have been in so many meetings were everyone only looks at the outcome of an effort once it has ended poorly. We tend not to focus on constant feedback/retooling.

  • http://www.coopersbarnyard.com Frankie Cooper

    This is a very good outline.

  • http://www.vintuba.com ChrisO Vintuba.com

    Chris,

    This is awesome! Need to do more of the rework in my campaigns.

  • http://www.netwitsthinktank.com frank barry

    Goal vs. Target? I’m not sure I get the nuance of difference, but I’m very curious. Mind elaborating?

    Also, how to you differentiate between goals (vs Targets) vs objectives?

    Thanks Chris.

  • http://www.hillarymeister.com Hillary_meister

    Thanks so much for your outline. I love your graphic under Launch. I was wondering, though, if you might elaborate on what you mean, under determining your goal, by “awareness.” I’m intrigued.

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  • http://www.wevival.com Jason Stambaugh

    Loved the pathway. Have you gotten a lot of mileage out of your ppc ads for things like newsletter signup promotions? Maybe a better question, do your social channels outperform ppc ads in terms of promotion results?

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Love it

  • http://blog.shoplet.com James

    Great post! Can you give an example of a promotion you’ve worked with in the last year or so?

  • http://blog.shoplet.com James

    Great post! Can you give an example of a promotion you’ve worked with in the last year or so?

  • http://www.bigjobsboard.com/ Brad Jobs

    Promoting online is like setting up a new business. We have to start from scratches in which we construct the plan. After having a well constructed plan, we proceed to the building process. Then the promotion and presentation to the public. Then never forget to rework the plan because this is where we make solutions to have the promotion at its best.

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  • http://www.viprealtyinfo.com Richard Soto

    Thanks for your breakdown, your graph was also very helpful. Most individuals don’t realize how important it is to have a plan down on paper.

    As my father use to say, most people spending more time planing their vacation than their careers.

  • Anonymous

    It is a nice informative post about online promotions. Now a days it is important to do promotions in a right way of your business if you want to increase your business.

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