We opened The Marketing Director’s Handbook by referring to the Bob Dylan classic ‘The Times They Are A-Changing’. Since then the Internet has become part of everyday life, and digital marketing, to marketers. But understanding it, and adapting to it, is essential to business success.
Change is the lifeblood of marketing
When a new era begins, it manifests as a hybrid of the past and the future. Remember how LPs gave way to CDs and now the likes of Spotify. Also how celluloid gave way to tv, then Betamax, VHS, satellite, DVD, You Tube, Netflix et al. Sometimes it is difficult to see the wood for the trees during a period of change. Often there is also resistance to change or an inability to embrace it. There are always leaders and followers, and also those that judge incorrectly. As a result, new opportunities often pass by some businesses leaving them shadows of their former selves. Equally some adapt and thrive. Monitoring change and adapting to it, is Darwinian theory applied to marketing.
Digital marketing is no longer a niche marketing discipline
While there remain an enormous number of digital marketing disciplines, and specialists occupying a variety of niches, the specialists are increasingly becoming mainstream. They are joining together to provide a greater range of services, being absorbed into larger groups, or broadening their focus. In the same way, digital marketing has merged with traditional marketing to shape new value propositions, new brands, new business models, and new distribution and marketing channels. Also shaping new mass market propositions and campaigns.
Examples are everywhere. From ComparetheMarket.com or ComparetheMeerkat.com, to Rightmove, Uber to new Government services, to ALS’s ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’, Always’ ‘Like a Girl’ and Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ media campaigns. So what to do?
Put the customer first
In the late 1990s Internet boom, many businesses went bust. Back then, a well-known client, who spent the best part of a million on a new website , wanted evidence they spent their money wisely. Though with a budget equal to just 2 customer groups. But it is folly to build a new technology solution on ‘sand’. It is better to understand customers first; both their needs and attitudes – because this is a precursor to meeting them successfully.
Make brands work in all digital marketing channels
Digital is now a mainstream creative marketing promotion and distribution channel, potentially on a par with the 30 second Coronation Street slot and Tesco gondola end. So uncover insights to find great idea, think big, and then use all digital channels to boost awareness and demand. P&G’s Always’ ‘Like a Girl’ video has been viewed over 85m times and rising.
It echoes yet rebuffs a stereotype, connects emotionally and gives a feel-good pay-off. It also gets a message across at much lower cost than a traditional tv advertising campaign. This therefore explains why Marc. S. Prichard, P&G Global Brand Officer, says the company is quickly shifting to a digital-first approach to building brands.
Exploit multiple channels and new behaviours to win customers
We live in an We live in an always on world. The days of shot-gun marketing are gone, so it isn’t enough to plan and launch campaigns. Marketers need to be more like gamekeepers. Setting traps, baiting, luring and also nurturing customers 24-7. So understand where customers are, when, and how they behave, and how to build relationships with them. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge succeeded because it fulfilled participants’ desire to socialise (reach out and connect with their friends), entertain, while supporting a worthwhile cause. ALS understood the criteria for social sharing, the social media, and in so doing, created an idea to promote its good cause. And probably in that order.
Plan budgets and invest to achieve outcomes
At a recent Chartered Institute of Marketing event on how CMOs should influence CFOs, we asked for a show of hands on how delegates planned their budgets. Most took what they their CFOs or CMO’s gave them, or started with last year’s budget, and then increased it in line with expected sales. Less than 5% calculated the impacts and cost of impacts to meet the required sales. A post-digital marketer uses the ‘objective and task’ method, and knows the relative promotion costs per sale across all media. He or she also doesn’t view the digital budget in isolation. This requires the customer’s journey, the media consumed, and the demand drivers and barriers at each stage, to be fully understood. Then you can plan to promote at the right time, with the right message, and right impacts to persuade.
Maximise promotion bangs for bucks
In the world of Google, as well as tv, there is lots of waste. Many don’t know what they don’t know. So be sceptical of the relationship between impacts, clicks and sales. Recognise you don’t know who clicked and why. And therefore aim to understand cause and effect relationships. Then test and learn, and better plan promotion activities. Invest in small-scale tests before going large, and also use econometrics to quantify causes and effects. Then when you take a risk on a new medium, it is a calculated risk.
Integrate all marketers in the business
While digital is code, and the realm of coders, coders are no longer just hunched over a computer in a back office. Digital should not operate separately from, or differently to, ‘business as usual’. They should thus come out of closet; and rightfully understand and connect with customers in order to better influence the business.
1. In this post-digital age, digital marketing is business marketing. As business leaders, CEOs and CMOs define the entire business strategy, digital is just one important element. Though not a replacement for the Marketing Ps, such as marketing promotion, and product etc. but just another way of delivering all of the Ps.
2. CMOs and CIOs should work together – and with the customer as the arbiter of what’s right.
3. Focus on product development; both optimising products and creating new products, choosing the right distribution and promotion channels as well as getting your message across.
4. Stay truthful and authentic. The digital world is subject to more scrutiny, also less forgiving as word travels very fast.
5. Integrate and help all learn how the wider business works. This will both develop your people, and also provide future successors to develop your business.