Even after 20+ years in the Digital Marketing industry, it still amazes me how many companies and organizations get this wrong.
Case in Point....
A former Wisconsin resident, I lived near Green Bay in an area referred to as "The Paper Valley". Numerous large paper companies got their start in the Paper Valley. Fort Howard, Neenah Papers, Wausau Papers, Kimberly Clark and others.
At the time, I was the CEO of an early Internet marketing firm. I would often meet with C-level execs and their marketing teams to help them establish an appropriate Internet marketing strategy. This was in the early days of Social Media.. everybody was doing it, it was the next big thing and the paper companies wanted to get into it.
One of the first opportunities in the paper industry was with a very large company that wanted to build a social media program for their toilet paper product! Really?
Is it realistic to think you're going to build a social community around toilet paper? Yet that's exactly what they wanted to do.
This is a perfect example of inappropriate strategy. On the other hand, if you're Harley Davidson, or The Green Bay Packers, that is a perfect strategy.
I mention this to illustrate a point... If your marketing strategy is inappropriate or does not meet the needs and expectation of your ideal customer profile, then you've failed before you even get started.
Here are a few observations from a seasoned marketer. You might want to jot this down:
1. Digital (Internet) Marketing is simply another marketing channel. Like Print, TV, Radio and Billboards. Your target customers are EXACTLY the same. If you don't understand your customer, their emotional drivers or your unique selling proposition and your message, then it doesn't matter if it's online or offline. Get it wrong and you lose.
2. Everyone uses the Internet now, even your grandmother. Either on their phones, tablets or laptops or desktops - Often all of the above. The customer journey may begin with an email, or a Facebook ad, or a text message or a YouTube video. It may begin on a smartphone, then later move to a tablet and or desktop.
Therefore it is crucial that we have a strategy in place to see the entire customer journey. FYI - The new version of Google Analytics 4 solves that problem.
3. Digital marketing, is far and away the most successful, trackable and measurable form of marketing the world has ever seen.
Ask yourself: When is the last time you picked up a phone book? Or a newspaper? When is the last time you called a company because you saw their billboard and actually remembered the number. MAYBE you remembered the website address.. but you didn't remember the phone number.
Rule #1: An inappropriate marketing strategy will fail even more quickly online than it will offline. You can count on it.
Inbound Vs Outbound Marketing
Question: Would you rather cold call your prospects who have never heard of you and your offerings or would you rather have your prospects call you? Which do you think is the better lead pool? The answer is obvious.
When a prospect calls you they have already identified the need, in a sense they have already pre-qualified themselves as a potential client. They're simply looking for someone who can meet their need. This isn't rocket science.
The Old Way - In the golden days of radio and print advertising - before the Internet - advertisers were using the "Hit-And-Hope" method. A newspaper or a radio station would send out their messages to hundreds of thousand of prospects - typically in a very tightly defined geography - in the hope that .5% would hear the message, respond and buy the advertised product or service.
Believe it or not, this was often enough for many smaller businesses to survive. But this was before the digital age which broadcasts to a world wide audience.
Now, due to digital technologies - we have more messages than ever coming at us from every possible medium. Not only do we have the old traditional media, we now have email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, pay per click, text messaging, robocalls, etc. etc. It has become nearly impossible to be heard or noticed through all the noise.
(Refer to my article: Let's Think Differently)
Inbound marketing avoids all of these pitfalls. If someone searches online for "House Painting Services", or "Divorce Lawyers", or "Best HDTV in 2022" they have already established their need/desire. These are people just waiting to be sold.
Rule #2: Sales of products and/or services are infinitely easier when the customer calls you.
I'm certainly not saying that outbound advertising is a waste of time. It can be very effective if you know your audience, where to find them and how to sell them. What I am saying is that the sales process becomes infinitely easier when the fish jumps in your boat voluntarily!
How do you do that?
Effective & Appropriate Marketing Strategy
An appropriate marketing strategy takes a lot of work, but when done correctly it pays off in spades.
Here's what I mean:
- If you're targeting older, wealthy, retired individuals for your financial product, is it a good idea to use Hot Pink on your website?
- If you sell toilet paper, is it a good idea to try and build a social media following?
- If your ideal prospect is 20-25 years of age, would it be a good idea to advertise on America Online? (Yes, they're still around).
- Should you have a LinkedIn profile if you own a snow cone stand?
These are just some very basic concepts. I know some of these sound silly, any reasoning person gets the point. It turns out though, common sense isn't so common, even amongst some of the largest companies in the world.
Your brand positioning, design, marketing, messaging and your digital media presence - on your website, print materials and your social media profiles MUST be appropriate to your audience. And it must clearly present your value proposition to that audience.
To do that effectively I highly recommend you do your home work or hire a professional to help you think through this before you build your first web page or social media account.
When you do - and after you have a WRITTEN marketing plan, with buy-in and approval from all company stakeholders, then - and only then do you begin your digital marketing program.
Perhaps you've heard the saying: "There's never enough time to do it right... but there's always enough time to do it over".
Rule #3: Define your marketing strategy - both online and off - before you even design a logo.
When you come to the obvious conclusion, and you've decided to do it right, I highly suggest "Lizard Brain" Marketing.
I'll cover that in my next article.