It has been a good while now since you recognised the need to update your marketing strategies and catch up with the pace of digital development. Not least so that you can avoid losing ground to your competitors. But let’s be honest with ourselves for a second and recognise that all smart marketing managers have already had his thought and begun taking action. You may have been quick off the mark, but by now, pretty much everyone has caught up.
We interpret and analyse the field around us, which is in the throes of fast and constant change. We adapt our strategies and approaches. On top of an increasingly complex playing field, AI has now begun to break through within marketing, and not least within the realm of digital advertising. This means that you are likely stuck in old habits at the same time as you see a clear need for a real reboot.
Where is the growth occurring today?
If your industry isn’t there already, it will be soon – most of your growth will happen in digital channels. The book sector was among the first. Fashion is the middle of its transition and the furniture industry has one foot through the door. At this stage, treating your digital presence as a sideline activity in its own separate silo is a foolhardy strategy.
The big change comes when you integrate channels, touchpoints and activities onto the one plain. Your customers experience zero friction when jumping between channels and can always pick up where they last left off. They place lofty demands on your technology, your organisation and your processes.
It is easy to lose direction.
To end up in a situation where you are running a myriad initiatives and projects but without any clear, strategic goals. The big questions need to be addressed. What is it that you actually want to achieve? What form does your vision take? Without goals, the greatest likelihood is that you will shape and prioritise your resources in the wrong way. And if you have not set goals for what you want to achieve, then you will have no way of knowing if you are making the right decisions and trade-offs. It will be tough to take home results and measure outcomes.
With a clear goal in mind, it is now time to grasp a realistic understanding of your current digital presence. Your customers want to interact with you digitally and they will be comparing you against their best digital experiences, no matter whether this was in the same industry or if it can even constitute a fair comparison. This affects the entire dynamic of your digital existence compared with the traditional landscape. Online, you most likely have different customer profiles which in turn demonstrate new behaviours. The competition looks different and this affects what you can and should be doing in order to achieve results. It does not make things anymore difficult, but you can’t simply replicate what you do in your usual channels. Which is to say, you can’t just copy and paste your tactics for traditional marketing over to the digital. Or vice versa, for that matter. Those who take a firm position on their digital services and thus create positive customer engagement will be able to build up a loyal customer base. Keep your eyes peeled for start-ups and new ways to satisfy the customer needs that your business fulfils. It is entirely possible they have spotted something that you have missed. If you take an ad-hoc approach or proceed without clear strategies, then the risk is high that you will fall behind.
Act on what you see.
With a goal set and a strategy in place, you are now ready to track and measure the efforts you make. In the digital realm, everything is measurable. But no matter what test points you use or what tools you have on hand, the data is only ever going to tell us about volumes. Not feeling. You need to continue interacting with your customers in other ways so as to get the feedback you need to identify shortcomings and weak points.
Your insights are only valuable if you also act on them. This means you need to have processes in place which allow you to make quick adjustments and to test out new approaches. You will need access to a surface with processes that give you space to take action immediately. This is a challenge in larger organisations, often with rigid IT processes.
A valuable tip is to make sure you sever dependency between what is happening today and large development projects. Focus on what your customer experiences right now. Trust me, they haven’t got the patience to wait for your new solution that is going to be launched really soon. Because it is going to arrive late and in the interim, that individual who could well have been your next customer will instead find a simpler solution for their needs.
Cohesion creates strength. It makes no sense to separate your activities and keep digital in a silo of its own. There are of course advantages to outsourcing certain aspects to external specialists, but you will attain a better effect by coordinating and putting the puzzle together yourself, with all the pieces at your disposal.
Activities in your digital media will work better if they are coordinated with the activities in your traditional media and channels. And that is what consumers expect. It all needs to come together. A good way to evaluate your situation is to take a look at how you budget: are your resources distributed in a way that matches your customers’ current behaviours?
And just to add a little bit of salt to the wound: You also need to review your organisation and make sure that your internal capabilities can cope with what you are working to build up.
That they can take care of themselves on a daily basis. Otherwise, you won’t be able to act effectively and you will end up lagging behind when your competitors play their cards. By getting a central and overarching grasp on your marketing and sales organisation, you will make sure that you aren’t duplicating your workload. Within digital channels, the boundaries between marketing and sales are imprecise and blurred. This means that work often gets doubled and duplicated, especially in larger organisations. Both in relation to the procurement of digital tools and by outsourcing assignments which solve a common need across different departments via similar solutions. Without any knowledge of one another.
Optimise, optimise, optimise. Examine your efforts by measuring and analysing. Use your instincts and develop simple, manageable solutions and make sure they are carried through. Small yet speedy steps. Time and time again. Now you have a culture in place for continuous improvement. Your job as manager is to focus on keeping your ship firmly on course towards your long-term goal.
Consider: Is digital properly integrated into our business processes?
Communicate: Plan what can be implemented and communicate these plans.
Do: Ensure that you are measuring relevant metrics and that your insights lead to action.