Life used to be a lot simpler in the world of marketing. There was none of this online, social media, website, blogging, instant reaction malarkey. There were a handful of TV channels and only 2 (then 3) of those had adverts. Print advertising had deadlines that could be in the next year quarter. IT was exciting sure, but in comparison to todays digital everything, it was a much more sedate way of marketing your business.
Zoom forward to today and there are hundreds of TV channels, millions of web sites and hundreds of thousands of “Apps” along with an alphabet soup of DMP’s, API’s and SDK’s. Marketing was never easy, but technology has made it a whole lot tougher. We have to seamlessly integrate a whole new range of skills and capabilities. It’s so easy to get lost in a storm of buzzwords with metaphor mixing, self-proclaimed gurus to confuse you along the way.
With all that in mind, here is a list of the top 4 marketing principles we advise any SME to integrate into their marketing planning in the digital age.
- Clarify Business Objectives
A good marketing strategy is not how many gadgets and neologisms are crammed into it, but how effectively it achieves worthy goals. So, how you define your objectives will have a profound impact on whether you succeed or fail. Unfortunately, some marketers to try to create a “one size fits all” approach for every business and brand or to want to create complicated models to formulate marketing objectives. Happliy, most businesses can be adequately captured by evaluating just three metrics: awareness, sales and advocacy (customer referral). Some brands are not widely known, others are have trouble converting awareness to sales and others need to encourage consumer advocacy. While every business needs all three, it is important to focus on one primary objective or your strategy will degrade into a muddled hodgepodge – and nobody wants that!
2. Use Specialists
With so many marketing tools out there and new ones emerging every day, it is unreasonable to expect your marketing person or yourself to keep up with the vast array of emerging technology and tactics, especially since most of it won’t pan out anyway. Therefore, it is essential to have a team or agency dedicated to identifying emerging opportunities.
Once an emerging opportunity has performed successfully in a pilot program, it can then be scaled up and become integrated into the normal strategic process as a viable tactic to achieve an awareness, sales or advocacy objective. This is costly and time consuming and not a viable option for most SME’s. One way to ensure you stay ahead is to employ a marketing agency or consultant who will have their own experts to test and try these areas for you and only recommend what is going to work for you and your brand.
3. Separate Strategy and Innovation
Strategy is fundamentally different from innovation. As noted above, a good strategy is one that achieves specific objectives. Innovation, however, focuses on creating something completely new and new things, unfortunately, tend to not work as well as standard solutions (at least at first). The truth is that innovation is a messy business.
4. Create Communities
The main focus of marketing promotion used to be to create compelling advertising campaigns that would get the consumer’s attention and drive awareness. Once potential customers were aware of the product, direct sales and retail promotions could then close the deal.
That model is now broken.
Today, effective promotional campaigns are less likely to lead to a sale and more likely to result in an Internet search, where consumers’ behaviour can be tracked and then retargeted by competitors. Simply building awareness and walking away is more likely to enrich your competition than yourself.
Successful brands are becoming platforms and need to do more than just drive consumers to a purchase, they have to inspire them to participate. That means marketers have to think less in terms of USP’s, and GRP’s and more in terms of API’s and SDK’s. Focus groups are giving way to accelerators and creation to co-creation. In the digital age, brands are no longer just corporate assets to be leveraged, but great communities of belief and purpose.
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