As children, most of us were entertained by cartoon characters that seemed destined to always be disappointed. The cat never really seems to get the mouse, and the cunning coyote can never actually seem to get his hands on that quickly moving bird.

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As an Internet marketer with finite resources, a look back to the same cartoon can teach a stark lesson: Sometimes you just can't catch what seems to be right in front of you. Even worse, spending more time and money, and making more complicated plans, often seems to increase your frustration rather than actually helping you reach your goals.

So, how can you stop your online marketing plan from reminding you of a cartoon where the character gets bashed in the head again and again with a frying pan? You start by learning four lessons from their troubles and applying them to what you're doing:


1. Understand your target.

In the cartoons, our almost-heroes often made a critical mistake: underestimating their prey. If you want to succeed in online marketing, you don't just have to understand your competitors, but also know what it is that they are better or worse than you at. Just as some cartoon animals are faster, or can fit into tight spaces, every business in your market has distinct advantages and disadvantages that can lead to marketing opportunities.


2. Recognize that you don't always get what you've paid for.

In those cartoons, our animated friends often turned to complicated gadgets to help them find an edge, only to find that a simple catalog order wasn't going to cut it. The same is true in online marketing. You can always find someone who's willing to charge more, or take your money, but the most successful partners are the ones that stay involved with their own plans and don't turn complete control over to someone else.


3. Remember that it's easy for the wrong tactics to come back to hurt you.

How many times did we see a machine end up doing more damage to the character who bought them than the one it was supposed to be chasing? The analogy to online marketing is clear, where the shortcuts and short-term tactics that businesses turn to often end up harming them (in terms of credibility, or search engine positioning) instead of helping them to gain ground on competitors.


4. And finally, never put all of your eggs in one basket.

This is perhaps the big lesson to be learned from Saturday morning cartoons: When you have a huge goal in front of you, there is no such thing as a foolproof master plan. In fact, the more complicated your scheme is, the more things are likely to go wrong along the way.

Instead, what savvy business owners and executives do is get the best help, and then adapt what they do going forward based on analytics and feedback. It might not be as much fun as pressing a button and watching a rocket strike a giant "X," but it's the only way to create a sustainable brand and profitability.

Cartoons are all about fun and games, but frustration with your Internet marketing isn't. To avoid the kinds of failures that can leave bumps on your head – and big holes in your balance sheet – learn from those characters that never seemed to get what they most wanted and avoid the same mistakes.

Tired of falling behind your competitors on the Internet? Now is the perfect time to contact us and see what separates us from other digital agencies.

By Randy Milanovic