Smarter Marketing Blog

Digital Strategy is Alive and Well.

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Get a bigger bang for your marketing buck.

It’s not only in business, you know. It seems like the world is going through a digital / technological warp. The general public, your customers, your family and all their equipment, have already connected wirelessly and now apparently we are entering the era of ‘the internet of things’. I have previously spoken here on these pages about the importance of an online presence, but in this post, I’m going to chat about why having a digital strategy, is necessary so as to avoid flapping around in this sea of social and search and getting nowhere.

I have been asked to give a short talk to a gathering of small businesses at the end of this month, and I think that this is the subject I am going to broach with them. I want to talk about it because I come across many SMEs on social media on a daily basis, that are there only to ‘advertise’ their wares. Even if they do write a blog, more than not, the channel chosen is viewed as a tool, solely to push the link. Rarely do I see a structured effort to engage with customers. Oh, and by the way, when I say ‘engage’ I mean a two-way activity. So what’s wrong here? I believe that many businesses will acknowledge that they do require an online presence but unfortunately they jump straight into using the ‘shiny new tools’ to garner followers, without proper thought – without professional help – without making it part of their overall business strategy.

Modern consumers do not like being sold to.

As I have alluded to before, if the consumer is now buying rather than being sold to, then an online presence should be part of the overall customer experience. If you’re not there – your customer may well ‘experience’ one of your competitors. However, when you do decide on a digital strategy, then remember that nothing is different online about your customers. They still want you to solve their problem in a timely and efficient manner. They still want a relationship. As I have said above, too often businesses act like kids with a new toy and just grow page likes, followers, friends and subscribers and then don’t engage. They don’t act like that offline – so why do it online. A digital strategy should be an integral part of your marketing activity and thereby a part of your overall business strategy. A co-ordinated plan of activity covering paid for, earned and owned digital assets should be aligned to reflect your business objectives and complete the customer’s 360 degree experience of your brand

I was reminded of this only last week when discussing a potential sponsorship strategy with a client. They were full sure that they would obtain a sponsor for a sports property they were involved with – because they had over 20,000 likes on their Facebook page. They were stumped when I asked them how they engaged with those ‘friends’ and how many of them were into sport. They had no idea. Not all was lost, I’m glad to say – we pulled together a sponsorship approach based on what the brand stands for, and who their target audience was. We matched those with potential sponsors and ….. Well, it was only last week but, hopefully they will get an appropriate partner, as a result.

So let’s say you do have a clear vision of what your business is, where it wants to go and who your customers and prospects are. Let’s also assume that you have a broad digital strategy that fits neatly into your business plans. Now we will look at 5 basic tactical areas that you should be planning for.

Tips and Timesavers.

If all this digital stuff terrifies you or you don’t have the time – just get help. There are many agencies out there that will create a plan with you or indeed you might well want to outsource it to a company to manage it for you. We have a Smarter Business Guide here on our website, that has ten questions on digital visibility. Have a look, it might give you a start or a steer on what to look for if outsourcing to an agency. Either way, at a minimum your tactical plan should include:

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEO), the rules change frequently so professional advice is recommended.
  • Social Media Marketing, you need to be visible to your audience at many, relevant, brand touch points.
  • Blogging, this works for search engines and of course your audience – if the content is appropriate.
  • Online newsletters/email, these are an excellent way of reaching customers in their personal space.
  • Measurement Tools, analytical tools are a must if you are to ensure that you are not wasting effort.

I cannot stress enough that if SMEs are to compete successfully with the larger companies in their industry, having a digital marketing strategy is not just good policy – it’s a necessary policy. Think of it this way – if you are smaller, you are more flexible. If you are flexible you can react faster to competitive situations. If your competitors are missing a trick, online – go for it. Create a blog, a video, a podcast, whatever gives you an advantage with your customers and prospects. Again, if all of this appears to be too much, outsource to somebody like us, (we too are small and flexible) or at least outsource the bit that you can’t do in-house.

To finish off here, in no way am I proposing that digital is the only way to market these days. Depending on your business type and customer’s personae, traditional methods may still be the most appropriate way of reaching them. What I am proposing though is that by being a little smarter and integrating online efforts into your marketing activity, you will achieve a bigger bang for your marketing buck.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

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