The secret to starting right in digital marketing

Lean in close, because I’m about to share a secret with you that most of my fellow digital marketers won’t be happy about. Why? Because I’m sick and tired of seeing new businesses and startups spin around in circles trying to figure out how to promote themselves online. So, are you ready?

The secret to starting right in digital marketing is to focus on one goal, one type of content, and one social media channel at a time. Simple? You bet. Powerful? Like you wouldn’t believe. Let’s break it down.

One goal

Let me start by saying that if you don’t have goals in place for your digital marketing activities, you might as well not be doing it.

Seriously. If you don’t know what you want to get out of your digital marketing, you’re just wasting your time and money.

So, set a goal. Then -- and I can’t emphasize this enough -- write it down. Hang it up on the wall in front of you so that it’s staring you right in the face. Then, every time you start writing a blog post or composing a tweet ask yourself: Will this help me achieve my goal?

If the answer is yes, then blog/tweet away. If the answer is no, close the window and focus on doing something that will help you achieve your goal.

What should your goal be?

Good question. Your goal could be anything, depending on your situation, with one caveat: Your goal cannot be “to raise brand awareness" or any variant of that phrase.

A goal like that is too broad. You’re running a lean, mean small business machine. All of your marketing activities should be focused on one thing and one thing only: Driving sales.

Leave brand building to companies that have the budgets for a 60-second TV spot made of b-roll footage, a slogan, and a logo (cue the SunStream ad from 30 Rock).

If you’ve never generated a single sale or lead through your digital marketing activities, my suggestion is to grab a marker and write, “GENERATE 1 LEAD (OR SALE) THROUGH MY WEBSITE” in all caps on a piece of paper.

Now that you’ve established a goal and written it down, you need to get to work achieving it.

One type of content

It’s time for a little pick-me-up from the kung fu master himself, Bruce Lee: "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times." You’ve probably been told time and time again that in order to succeed in the digital marketspace, you must create content. Unfortunately, many of the people who hear those words are under the impression that creating a variety of different types of content is the best way to go about content marketing.

Spoiler alert: If you try going down that path, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Before you start shooting videos, writing blog posts, and hosting webinars, heed my advice: Choose one type of content. Learn all you can about it. Start producing it -- a lot of it. Work on it until you’ve got it down to a science. Then, and only then, can you repeat the process with a new type of content.

If you want to content market with the best of ‘em, pick one type of content and run with it.

If you choose blogging, learn how to write headlines and copy for every stage of your buyer’s journey. (By the way, if you want to learn how to start a blog that your customers will actually read, I recommend you check out this post from my company, ChromosomeTwo.)

If you choose videos, learn the ins-and-outs of producing, editing, and hosting a video. If you choose webinars -- you get the idea.

Pick a type of content and master it. Don’t spread yourself thin trying to figure out every type of content under the sun or you’ll never get results.

Figure out your content kick, then practice it 10,000 times. And once you create that content, you need to distribute it.

One social media channel

Want to know why so many people complain that social media is ineffective for promoting a business? Because they’re trying to do too much at once.

That’s right. Similar to the content dilemma, when people are starting out with social media marketing, they often try to get onto as many social media platforms as they can -- operating under the assumption that more is better.

Unfortunately, that’s not really how it works when it comes to social media marketing. You see, the goal of your social media marketing is to establish a dedicated, engaged follower base -- people who are always eager to read and share your latest content.

How do you do that? By focusing on one social media channel at a time.

Look, social media is a beast. And every platform is different. If you come out of the gate trying to promote yourself on three or four social media channels, you won’t find success on any of them. Instead, you’ll waste a lot of time and energy creating multiple mediocre social media channels that don’t provide any real value.

Pick a social media platform. Learn its nuances -- the jargon, the way people interact with each other, the way people find and share content. Share cool, valuable content. And don't just talk about yourself, because that's the surest way to repel potential customers. Instead, try to share content and thoughts from your followers.

As Dale Carnegie said, "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."

By focusing on one social media channel, you can invest your time and energy into creating a raving follower base -- not keeping up with the latest changes and trends across multiple platforms.

Focusing on one social media channel also allows you to learn the ins-and-outs of that channel’s paid advertising. You can run A/B tests on ads, audiences, and content until you’ve got the perfect system in place. You’ve got a finite amount of time on your hands. Don’t waste it trying to build the biggest audience across the most channels. Instead, focus on cultivating one social media channel with a follower base that would follow you onto the battlefield.

Quick plug: Once you choose your channel, check out this post from ChromosomeTwo to learn how to absolutely crush it on social media.

Now go get ‘em.

Richard Jenkins is the Founder and President of ChromosomeTwo—a digital marketing firm that develops strategies for small businesses who want to build a competitive advantage. Richard enjoys helping small businesses succeed and is always looking for opportunities to develop relationships with the people keeping the American Dream alive. If you want to connect with Richard, you can follow him on Twitter or send him an email.