A few weeks ago one of our clients asked us to comment on why they had not been able to cross the marketing/digital marketing divide on their own. Certainly a provocative question and one that really required some thought on our part.
This particular client has a very productive marketing department delivering traditional marketing activity: conferences, press releases, pr placement; however, they just felt they had never been able to capitalize on the power and promise of digital marketing.
Here’s how we responded to our client’s question…
It’s easy to look at marketing and digital marketing and assume they are the same. Most companies with a marketing department treat social media and other digital communications efforts as just another distribution outlet for the content they are already producing.
This is the genesis of the problem.
Traditional marketing is about creating a presence in the marketplace, establishing knowledge of an organization within the market, building awareness of products and services as well as the company’s value proposition. All great efforts that are absolutely required as part of an overall marketing equation.
Digital marketing is about creating an engaged audience and there are significant differences between the two.
First, mindset. Engaging an audience means thinking about information that has value for them. What questions do they have that you can address? What are they already talking about and how can you make a contribution to the conversation? In simple terms it means putting aside what you want to tell them and giving priority to what they want to know or how you can help.
When you go to a party or event, who is the person everyone wants to speak with? It’s the person who engages in conversation, who listens before sharing information, and who is as interested in your point of view as you are in his. That approach to digital marketing works. Every single time you add content to your website, post on social media or send out an email marketing piece ask: does anyone care about this? Will people see this as valuable and be more informed as a result of taking their time to read it?
The second difference of digital marketing is the ability to target an audience with precision heretofore unavailable. For example when posting an article on LinkedIn, you can target individuals by industry, job title, seniority level, and geography. On Facebook, you can target people down to the level of who they follow, their demographic information and even a zip code.
A third differentiating factor is the ability to measure your success with a high level of precision. Once you’ve established systems and set up the right tools you will know — down to an individual respondent — how many people are following you, how many people actually read or respond to your message and the types of success your efforts lead to over time. We developed a standard digital marketing dashboard that allows us to track all digital marketing efforts on a month-over-month basis to see our results.
Certainly we do not advocate abandoning traditional marketing, but we do recommend that digital marketing, with its additional capabilities and benefits, be treated as a separate discipline requiring dedicated staff, tools, and processes to generate the maximum benefit for your organization.