Marketing today is more complex than ever. Complex as it may be, however, it doesn’t need to be complicated. Something that’s complex is merely a network of simple, efficient systems working together on a large scale. Something that’s complicated, however, is something that is not efficient on the micro level, so it becomes chaos at the macro level.
The fact is that enabling your business to succeed in the digital world doesn’t need to be complicated, and success starts with making three simple decisions that will not only impact your current level of success, but it will also make a tremendous impact on your ability to maintain positive forward momentum.
Believe it or not, there are some organizations that still think that the Internet is a supplemental communications channel—failing to realize that it has now become the primary channel for reaching and impacting your audiences. The leaders of these organizations haven’t faced the reality that the marketing, communications, advertising, and public relations games have changed and that the old tactics simply no longer work.
The truth is that the Internet is the core of all modern marketing and communication because we live our lives on our core social apps, websites, games, email, and other messaging systems. In a very real way, we’re all gathered in the digital arena, and we’re waiting for businesses to show up with something impressive enough to capture our interest and cause us to take action.
Think of it this way: It’s as if your audiences are gathered in a giant velodrome and are watching you compete in the bike race to win their business. For even established businesses, the decision to not properly enter the digital arena has proven to be damaging, if not fatal.
Take, for example, Carrefour grocery stores: An early pioneer of the “hypermarket” grocer model, the French chain is among the world’s largest retailers by revenue. However, by 2012, Carrefour was in major trouble.The venerable grocery chain had flat-out refused to engage in digital marketing initiatives, focusing instead on billboard promotions and print ads. Five years later, despite attempts to establish an online foothold, Carrefour’s stock continues to drop as its customers look elsewhere and brand recognition stagnates. Another prime example is the fate of Borders bookstores: When faced with pressure from Barnes & Noble and online booksellers, Borders doubled down on their brick-and-mortar establishments and passed off digital sales to Amazon—effectively “handing over the keys” to a direct competitor. This mistake ultimately led to Borders closing its doors six years ago.
Even if, in the past, we were champions in our respective market-spaces, the reality is that our businesses will increasingly fail to even qualify for today’s race if we show up ill-prepared and ill-equipped to compete. Increasingly, our abilities to attract attention, convert prospects, maximize revenue, minimize expenses, and retain customers will fade if we don’t meaningfully participate in digital marketing.
The trouble is that most businesses are not prepared to compete because, quite frankly, they’re “out of shape” and have no idea what they’re doing or where they’re going in regards to their digital marketing strategy. They wander with aimless marketing and communications initiatives as they try to copy what they see others doing online. This is not a strategy and, unsurprisingly, this always ineffective.
Proceeding without true insight and preparedness leads to tremendous opportunity costs as well as outright failures on every level of the competition. This ranges from simple things such as making serious missteps with social media hashtags, extends to being pedestrian when it comes to your marketing content strategy, and culminates in the ultimate in tone deafness: turning your marketing automation and CRM platform(s) into spam engines.
Today, there is a wealth of information available online for small businesses seeking to navigate and maneuver in the digital marketing arena. And while this is generally positive, if you “don’t know what you don’t know,” this same “wealth of information” can become a quagmire because it’s very difficult to discern which ideas are appropriate for your unique situation, and which ideas are propagandistic and primarily designed to separate you from your money. What’s more, there’s a gigantic distance between understanding digital marketing principles, strategies, and tactics conceptually and being able to execute and implement a successful digital marketing initiative.
There is an endless line of digital marketing self-help gurus who have mastered the art of luring you into their marketing funnels and getting you to buy into their “exclusive training opportunity” for a price. And while they often have some really great ideas and best practices, this is completely insufficient on its own in terms of truly preparing you how to maneuver in the race. In the same way that you can’t read a book about bike racing and then go out and be a contender, you can’t read some self-help advice about digital marketing and be able to build and successfully ride a marketing vehicle to a first-place win across the finish-line.
It’s true, deciding to be where the competition happens, to become a legitimate contender, and to prepare yourself to effectively maneuver in the race is paramount for you to capture both mindshare and marketshare in your market-space. Regardless of how successful your business has been to this point, you simply must make these three decisions if your business is to thrive moving forward. And while being armed with good information is certainly a great start, the necessary level of true knowledge, skill, ability, and experience is not as easy to come by affordably.
Historically, big advertising and marketing agencies—as well as marketing platform vendors—lock up all the best talent and only make it available as part of the types of extremely large marketing budgets that are unrealistic for small businesses. As a result, most other businesses can’t afford to take the necessary actions to become the leader of the pack.
The solution is to find and work with a qualified marketing consultancy. Good marketing consultants have taken the high-end thinking and creative out of the agency model and brought it to you within the context of the consultancy model. Marketing consultancies are able to offer you objective, effective, and affordable advice that will help you become a winner in your marketspace.
If you’ve made these three decisions and are ready to enter the digital marketing arena, compete, and win, then contact Lenker Consulting by taking our marketing health evaluation below. You’ll get a free, customized marketing health report, which is like a marketing personality test for your business. It will not only provide you with some great insights, but it will also put us in the best position to know how to advise you based on your current situation and needs.