Why You Need To Look At Your Digital Marketing Differently
Make no mistake, you need to be continually striving for high performance, in your digital marketing efforts to be able to cut through all the noise. However, this does not mean you need to have millions of dollars in resources to do this. In fact, even the smallest of businesses, can dominate their specific category or niche if they implement digital marketing effectively.
The problem however is that most smaller businesses and startups do not understand all the aspects that are required. This is also compounded by the reality there is so much information available – its like where do you start!
The Four Areas Of Your Digital Marketing Ecosystem
Over the years working with my clients, I realised many of them tended to focus on only one part of their digital marketing strategy. This was driven largely by my client’s individual bias or paradigms. However, what this lead to, were sub optimal outcomes. Because there are four broad areas that need to be addressed when implementing the practicalities of an effective or high performing digital marketing strategy.
These four areas are…
- Front-End Activities – these include things like creating content for social media or web sites
- Back-End Activities – these include setting up opt in pages and email sequences
- Non-Technical Activities – these include things like posting content on social media or web sites
- Technical Activities – these include search engine optimisation, automation, and risk management
Think of this as a 2x2 matrix or quadrant, where activities could be either: Quadrant I – Front-End & Non-Technical, Quadrant II – Front-End & Technical, Quadrant III – Back-End & Non-Technical and last, Quadrant IV Back-End & Technical
Based on our own research with our clients, most understand quadrant I well, with progressively deteriorating results for the other three quadrants.
The 6 Digital Marketing Levers
Throughout my professional background I have had a strong interest in the concept of “capability maturity”. Whether this be in the practice of Project Management, Business Analysis, Outsourcing, Change Management, or even Innovation, the fundamental concept is understanding how good you are and then implementing specific actions to improve even further. However, to do this, you must break down the “whole” into manageable “parts”. Also, you need to have insights into what is best practice – we call these benchmarks.
Coming from this perspective, I expanded the four quadrants and created something called The 6 Levers Of High Performing Digital Marketing™. This is a capability maturity model or framework, that helps our clients rapidly improve their own digital marketing performance in a short period of time.
Also, these 6 levers support both the Non-Technical and Technical Activities of your digital marketing strategy – the first three being largely Non-Technical, and the last three Technical Activities…
- Style – this is about projecting your brand and positioning
- Substance – this is to show your value and uniqueness
- Shareability – this is ensuring it is easy to share your content, may be make it go viral and have others promote you
- Structure – this is to ensure the most relevant content is easily accessible and responsive when it is requested
- SEO – this is to ensure the basics of SEO are always in place and you are continually raising the bar to more advanced SEO techniques
- Safety – this is to protect your intellectual property but also against potential vulnerabilities whether this be legal, technical, or even criminal
The 6 Digital Marketing Focus Areas
You can immediately apply these 6 levers to your existing digital marketing strategy for your business. Just allocate ten points to each lever (a total of 60 points available) and then ask yourself on a score of 1 to 10, how well do you think you are performing for each lever.
What was your score?
Now of course you do not have any benchmark data to compare with, so what you think is really good, may be some bodies else’s really bad. That said, this exercise will still give you a good indication how you may be performing and where there are opportunities for improvement.
We use a slightly more complex framework that distinguishes the Front-End Activities from the Back-End Activities with six focus areas…
- Social – this includes your social media channels
- Sites – this includes your websites
- Sales – this includes your opt in pages and sales offers
- Sequences – this includes all your automated email sequences
- Search – this includes your search engine ranking
- Sway – this is your overall influence
By combining the six focus areas with the six levers, we can expand our original 2x2 matrix or quadrant to identify 36 specific activities! This level of detail, combined with our benchmarking, helps our clients easily implement a high performing digital marketing strategy by identifying what they are doing really well, and not so well or not at all.
Your Action Plan To Achieve High Performance
Now none of this should be difficult for you to get your head around, or to implement into your own business, now that we have a “system” to address it. Because that was our goal when we created The 6 Levers Of High Performing Digital Marketing™. A systemised approach to break down complexity into simple parts, which we then improve, resulting in high performance outcomes.
To take this further and improve your current Digital Marketing Strategy Performance, there are a couple of things you can do.
- Firstly – do your own self-assessment, as suggested, across the six levers, to give yourself a starting point
- Second – download our self-assessment tool, that includes all 36 activities for you to assess
- Third – attend our monthly Digital Marketing Reviews where we do a case study assessment in real time, via a LIVE video teleconference where you can ask questions
- Fourth – request a meeting with us where we can discuss your specific needs and how we may be able to help you
Finally, remember this to help you in your journey that excellence and high performance in digital marketing is not the result of chance and good luck. It comes from strategy, disciplined execution, and an unstoppable desire to be great.
Most Businesses Are Not Good At Promoting Their Products!
When you think about it, there is not too much to consider when it comes to sales. Like when you break it down, all you are doing is exchanging value. Now of course “value” means different things to different people, but in essence, that is all that is happening. So if you want to sell, then you need to make sure you are providing value – right?
Well only if it was that simple! There are of course other considerations like Kotler’s “marketing mix” that includes the 4 P’s of Price, Product, Place, and finally Promotion. These are all levers that you can adjust and optimise depending upon your specific circumstances.
In my experience however, I think it is the last one, “Promotion” that gets most businesses falling flat on their feet.
They have great products that provide awesome solutions to real needs, and they are priced competitively, while being sufficiently profitable. They have also identified their target market and the channel where these products can be found.
But nothing’s going on! They are not getting any conversions of leads to prospects, and prospects to clients or customers.
Most Businesses Do Not Engage
Now the reason for this failure to convert is simple. These businesses have just misunderstood the need to be fully engaged continually with their target market. This is important because there are just too many distractions or “noise”, these days.
Like, have you ever cut out from a newspaper or magazine, an article or an advertisement that you thought was useful or interesting, with the intent to follow up, may be even purchase it? Perhaps you have used your smartphone and taken a photo of it instead? Or if it was online, you have book marked, or made as a favourite, the web page url, because you were going to get back to it – but never did?
What’s happening here?
Well, its simply that you are being distracted. The initial advertisement or article, created some interest or desire, of which could have been either from within your logical brain, or from your emotional heart (always remember we have logical reasons and emotional reasons for buying things), or perhaps a combination of both, but in the end, you moved on!
So, we need to put in place a strategy in which your target market is always actively engaged with you and your business.
You Need To Be Clear On Your Objectives
To do this effectively, there are five steps that if you follow, will improve your conversion rates and as you are about to discover, these steps are more common sense if anything else.
The first step you need to do is to be very clear on your overall objective. For example, maybe what you are wanting to do, is just get people to subscribe to your mailing list, or access something for “free”. Perhaps you are wanting them to book an appointment with you, or yes, actually buy something! Because if you are not being specifically clear with a laser focus, your messaging will be too broad and be potentially confusing to your target market.
The next thing you need to do, is to define what are you offering. Is it a product, is it a service, is it an opportunity? In terms of benefits, what does your target market get, in exchange for doing something? Is this compelling enough to trigger the required action? For instance, does it take them away from “pain” and towards “pleasure” as they are two fundamental motivators.
Once you have figured this out, then the third step is to create a marketing “hook” and pitch. Depending upon the channel being used, this will be in the form of a headline for an advertisement, or maybe an opening question, if it is a physical sales presentation. The hook’s purpose is not to sell, instead it is to draw them deeper into your world by creating interest and desire.
The fourth step you need to do is designing the process and integrating whatever tools or technology you require, to make everything seamless.
Then once you have done that, the final step five is about testing. Is it working, what are your conversion rates now? Have you achieved better results? What is working and what is not? This is just about constant and never-ending improvement, or as the quality gurus of Japan say… Kaizen!
Sky Dive – Why Not?
For most of us, learning how to jump out of a perfectly operating aircraft is not the most natural of choices but that is exactly what I did over thirty years ago! At the time, I was working in a rural town in Australia where the local store had a poster on its window which said something like “Sky Dive – Why Not?”. Now prior to then, I never had considered such an activity. However, over several weeks reading that poster and variations of it, I found myself asking the question but eventually ran out of reasons of “why not”! The reality was that I answered all my objections over a period of a few weeks!
Of course, Kotler’s “marketing mix” and his 4 P’s of Price, Product, Place, and Promotion, had a lot to do with it, but guess which one got me over the line?
Boosting Your Conversions
So now think about your own business. Regardless of whether yours is a traditional one, or largely an online business, what if you start to take a more strategic view of your marketing mix. What if you work through these five steps by firstly clarifying your objectives, defining your offer, creating your hook and pitch, then setting up a slick process and finally keep testing your results and fine tuning everything – could that improve your conversions? Do you think that could flow on to boosting your revenue?
Whether you are building a list of subscribers, or selling high end consulting services to businesses, the principles are the same. If you implement them you will get some awesome results!
Remember, having the best products and at the best prices will not guarantee you sales. Even if your customers or target market can easily find you! You must engage them in a way that draws them in, connect with them of course logically, but also emotionally.
When you achieve this, who knows you may even get your customers jumping out of aeroplanes!
How Can I Generate Traffic?
Do you know what makes up the most popular social media video posts?
No, its not cat videos – though “Surprised Kitty” at 16 seconds, has hit 77 million views on YouTube!
Well according to Newshub, the most popular Facebook video of all time is Blossom, that has, to date, generated traffic of over 334 million views since May 18th, 2017 (it is now 386M by the way).
That is not bad, considering the production costs were probably just a couple of thousand dollars at most, based on the camera angle, audio track and the talent – a pair of hands, in just a 1.37-minute video!
Short, focused and value rich, for the target market segment of millennial mothers and crafters.
But of course, most of us are not in that league and struggle to get a few views.
In fact, one of the often-asked questions I get is “how can I generate more traffic?”.
Now it’s not a simple answer, after all there is a lot of competition (noise) out there and it’s not about who has the biggest budgets either. Also, we are living in the age where a five-minute video is a marathon and many “experts” are now recommending one-minute videos for social media channels like Facebook.
What’s Your Strategy?
Complicating all this, is that you need to be aware that depending upon what you are trying to achieve in your marketing efforts, of which social media is just one aspect, multiple strategies or approaches will need to be deployed. This is true regardless of whether you are an individual, professional, traditional business, new economy business, B2C or B2B type business.
For example, are your trying to increase brand awareness? Or maybe for you it’s about credibility, building loyalty, or a community of followers. Perhaps your objective is to generate more prospects by building a list, or creating sales. Whatever it is, your approach must be specific for the goal you are trying to achieve.
You Have To Do A Lot Of Stuff, But Not That Much
Now between myself as a professional brand, and my business, The Startup Business, we are continually testing different strategies all the time to generate more traffic across our social media platforms, websites, opt in pages, and believe it or not, general email inquiries!
The first thing I learned which has been key to our success, and surprisingly most people do not get, is that regardless of your strategy, it all takes discipline, consistency, and massive action!
Secondly, we find it is good practice to distinguish between organic / non-paid traffic and paid traffic. Particularly when you are starting off and your funding may be limited.
You can get awesome results organically and you do this by being active!
For example, on social media you need to like stuff, comment on stuff, share people’s stuff (as in their posts to your channels) and post other people’s stuff (as in other people’s posts on other channels to your channel). In short, this is all about you contributing to the “body of knowledge”. Then on a consistent basis, publish your own unique content.
Of course, none of my posts have reached the numbers like Blossom, but here’s the thing… I know that each week across, all my platforms and all my content, I reach an audience of over one million globally, in total interactions – and doing this week on week, throughout the course of the year does have an impact.
I would then expand on this and include promotional partners where there are synergies between the two of you and consider physical and virtual events as a further way to get your message out there.
Then, once you have done all this, you can consider paid traffic strategies like Google AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook ads, LinkedIn sponsored ads, or affiliates etc, depending upon the channel that is appropriate for your business and your overall marketing strategy.
Could Building A Global Partnership Be Useful?
So what sort of results can you expect?
Well for me, I am constantly surprised as to what can come about, having established a strong brand in a very specific niche, with regular content being shared across multiple platforms. Not too long ago for example, the Paris based DIG Business Learning (developed by INSEAD Professor of Marketing, Jean-Claude Larréché) reached out to me and we are now successfully collaborating, to bring the Discovery, Innovation & Growth program to a larger audience – in other words a win-win partnership.
You Need Discipline, Consistency & Massive Action
While the sort of traffic that Blossom has achieved from just one video would be great to get by anyone’s standard, if you go by my results alone, you do not need to try to replicate them. You just need to be very strategic in how you go about, that’s all and while this will not happen overnight, by being disciplined and consistent and taking massive action, you will make an impact.
What Are You Waiting For – Hopefully Not Purfection
Why is it that many people (or businesses for that matter), with the best intentions, do not get started because they want to have everything perfect (yes, I am still trying to weave in my favourite cat videos puns)? They get what I am saying, but for some reason keep putting it off. Then there are others that don’t do anything for fear of failure.
This is crazy talk! Just get moving on this now and improve it along the way by continual trial and error.
Clarify your initial goals or objectives. Identify channels to use. Start contributing to your industry body of knowledge. Test, reflect, adjust and you will get awesome results.
In The New Economy You Have To Think Differently!
If I was to call out any “one” strategy that has made a difference to my businesses in a positive way, over the years, it would have to be this one. It is not obvious, after all when you go to business school you learn that there are basically three types of strategies: cost strategy, differentiated products and services strategies and focus strategies (which is sort of a hybrid of cost and differentiation).
However, I believe that this strategy that they do not teach you, is the one that can give you the greatest results in what we call today as “The New Economy”.
Now I did not purposely start my business with this strategy either, it just fell into place and as I started to see results, I adjusted a few things – the tactics of the implementation, until I got it right.
You see, what drives my businesses today is a Content Management Strategy centred around value. In other words, content is key and the content must provide value at all times – from freely available articles like this, through to my high-end business advisory services.
But Aren’t You Giving Your Intellectual Property Away?
When I went through my doctoral journey, the guiding principle was that as an academic, you are making a contribution to the “body of knowledge”. So, it was natural for me to translate this in the business world. However, many of my colleagues say to me “your giving your stuff away for free!”.
OK, so let’s think about that for a moment with your own business. Do you think it is possible for anyone to spend a few hours searching the internet, maybe logging into some research databases, to become relatively well informed about the subject matter of your specific business? In my view yes – though I do accept that hidden away from these online channels, are unique ideas and innovations that are yet to hit the market. But in all sense of purposes, I would have to say that for over 25 years and the thousands of clients I have worked with, this would be the case for them. The key of course is how you utilise content to share this information that still provides value!
The second concern that comes up is that “I don’t have time to create content – I am too busy as it is”. Fair enough, that is why having content management as a core strategy, is essential if you want to be effective and at the same time efficient.
It Only Takes Three Steps
The first step then, is to establish an overarching framework or model, that defines your business and how you are helping your target market. This is important because it has nothing to do with you, rather all about them. A good way to do this, is to think about all the problems you are solving for your current customers or clients. You may be a business consultant, you may be a builder or you may run a hotel – regardless, your current products and services are solving a specific problem and what that is for one customer will be different to another. When you define what these “problems” are and then align your offerings in a way that positions you as the authority to solve these problems, then you have created gold!
The next step of course is defining the sorts of channels that your target market use on a regular basis. Is it through social media? Is it through live events? Is it through print media? Note that none of this has to do with the channels you like. It’s all about them and where they like to hang out!
Your final step is about being smart on the implementation which is basically about publishing. This is where I see most people or businesses fail. They are motivated at the beginning but then lose momentum. So to prevent this happening to you, you need to think of yourself as a publishing house. Just imagine for a moment that your local newspaper decided not to print one day – would that be a turn off to their readers? That is why it is essential that once you start, you are disciplined and consistent. Sure, some days will have low “readership levels” – but over time, if you do this in focused way your results will be phenomenal!
How To Become An Influencer
Which reminds about a recent trip flying 14 hours straight, from Sydney to Dubai. It’s a long flight, but I have to say it is more comfortable when you are seated in Business Class. But do you know what can make it even more pleasing? Well it’s when you get asked to speak at a conference attended by over 10,000 people and all your expenses are paid for… that is comfortable!
While I do get several invitations each year for various events like that one, it never used to be that way. Things only changed when I embraced content management as a primary strategy.
Now, I am no celebrity, but in my niche, I have created a significant presence which gets attention as a Leading Expert Authority For The New Economy Business. Companies like Microsoft have asked me to be their brand ambassador and that’s pretty cool because that role itself, has opened up more doors and opportunities as well. You could say the more I get out there to share insights, ideas and value, the more it has come back to me in so many ways which is an incredible privilege.
Why Are You Trying So Hard To Fit In?
But here’s the thing. You can do this to! As my great friend and mentor, Andy Harrington (founder of the Professional Speakers Academy) always asks his audience this…
“Why are you trying so hard to fit in, when you were born to stand out?”
You see once you accept that you have unique talents, skills and life experiences that are different to everybody else and your insights and perspectives are valuable and can really help others and are no longer consumed by thoughts like “what if I fail” or “what if no one shows up” or “what if I they criticise me” and let go, yours will be the world!
Imagine the possibilities! Imagine taking your business to the next level! Imagine seeing your goals and dreams realised and then setting even bigger ones! I have been on a long journey to come to this point, it has not always been easy and I have made so many mistakes along the way, but as I said, this strategy of content management that provides value, has been key.
It’s In Your Hands!
Shifting to a content management strategy centred around value is not difficult, but it does require a different way of thinking. It needs to be holistic and include your whole business and everyone in it. It is also very much customer focused, so if you feel you are not strong in that aspect, then you may need to get to know your customers and I would suggest this starts by having conversations.
You also need to have a grasp on technology as this will help you expand your reach and do it efficiently. Then with no surprise, it takes focus, discipline and finally consistency and patience. While you may not notice any changes after a month, but possibly after six months, though likely nine months and definitely within twelve, things will be different for you and how you are perceived in the market.
What keeps you moving forward requires a lot of effort, what takes you forward however is actually effortless
In one of my very first jobs, I learned how not to sell.
At the time, I did not know it – as we did close deals, but looking back at it now, it was such an archaic approach.
As management consultants, we would provide an opportunity to undertake a discounted analysis or “health check”, of a prospect’s business, perhaps over 4 to 6 weeks, in which we would then provide a report on what is working and what is not working.
Of course, there was nothing ever good going on in their business by the time we had finished.
We would create huge time series charts based on hours of observations, to identify lost time and then relate that in real money being lost annually.
Twelve-hour days onsite with the client, followed by hours of cutting and pasting coloured cellophane onto cardboard charts which we would then report to the top client about, on the following morning.
Red was our favourite colour.
Brown papers… well these were generally 4 to 5 metres in length and 1.5 metres high in which we would map out processes in detail and then use thick red markers to identify what the prospect’s employees really thought about their business.
As the 4 weeks passed, the intensity increased in what we were discovering about their business and how bad it was.
The actual workers loved us.
Middle management hated us.
The prospect’s CEO, used us as a weapon of choice.
Then, sometimes if we were lucky, we would not even get to week 4, as the prospect’s sponsor was pleading for us to help them, as if we were some sort of white knight.
Then my project director, who would never speak to us junior consultants or “process engineers” as we would be called, would take the sponsor out for a coffee and let them bare their sole and sign the contract…
Now, I thought all this no longer happened, until recently I had it done back to me and my business.
I guess they call that karma, and it was not a nice experience to say the least – even when I knew exactly what was happening and worse, this was from a guy who positioned himself as an expert in sales!
But guess what?
I also remember the day when I learned to sell.
It was around the time of Y2K – you know, the time when the world was meant to end as the clocks clicked past midnight of the 31st December 2000.
I was working for the National Australia Bank at the time, in a global role based in Melbourne Australia, where my boss Alan, had given me the mandate to assess technology opportunities for the newly created global shared services.
A key technology partner to NAB at the time, was Unisys, so I would regularly meet up with them to discuss opportunities with their account manager, Dave, and delivery manager Lars.
Now these guys were switched and every time we met up, they always brought something of value to the meeting – new ideas, different way of thinking and always refreshing.
We ended up doing a joint global review of which all opportunities were to be explored and at the end of it, there was a very compelling case for change.
However, as the Contingency Theory Of Change highlights, there are always other factors at play, so we did not progress that specific opportunity beyond a report.
That said, I am always referring to this example with Unisys (Dave and Lars), now seventeen years later, as the time I learned to sell, as it was one of the best examples of true relationship marketing that I have ever experienced.
You see the world has moved on from cellophane and brown paper.
Today, it’s about providing rich value that is both timely and relevant.
It’s about knowing your customer better than they know themselves, and the likely challenges and opportunities they will likely face and presenting to them ways to engage.
It’s also about you being transparent – what you stand for and what you believe in.
Today, it is about building long term relationships based on integrity, trust and creating a genuine esprit de corps.
Do you have a business, a more traditional business, you know the ones I mean, from the old world?
If so, what percentage of your leads or revenue are coming from online sources?
Have you been tracking this over the years since you have been in business?
Is the proportion of your online leads and sales increasing compared to your non-digital channels?
If not, why not?
Because if you just do some quick research via Google, I think you would find it difficult to come across any statistics or research that are indicating online sales declining!
It is of course the complete opposite – regardless of industry or geography, or even product niche, online sales (or leads generated from online) continue to grow at a rapid rate each year.
Sure there are ups and downs, but more compelling is the proportion of online sales compared to the traditional channels such as over the counter.
So what this means then, if you are not keeping up today, not growing the proportion of your online leads or sales in comparison to your traditional channels, you are missing a huge opportunity. Or worse, letting your business decline.
This is the paradigm shift that many businesses are still trying to figure out, or are in denial about – even after all these years
At the same time, new entrants into your market, without pre-conceived ideas or paradigms that you may have are being disruptive and changing the rules of business in the meantime.
So what side of the story do you want to stand on?
The old world or the new world?
Don’t let this happen with you and your business.
Strike a strategic blow today.
Initiate your Digital Strategy…
You Educational Based Marketing Strategy…
You Content Management Strategy…
I know all this takes work to do, but you have to do it otherwise you will be stuck in the old world and while that may be comfortable for now, it will become a lonely place for you and your business.
Most of the large social media platforms have been around now for over ten years, some coming up to 15 years – long enough to change whole generations.
You have to decide where you fit in.