Probably the best marketing tool in the world…

Now’s your chance to take 2010 by the proverbials – the time for procrastinating is long gone. The best brands are already in full swing having seized the opportunities available last year to get talking to their customers more often, more cost effectively, and most importantly on their level…as they embrace the world of digital marketing.

2010 holds the key to opportunities that you may never have even imagined. There’s marketing techniques at your fingertips that you might never have heard of, let alone embraced but none of it’s new – it’s all about conversation.

Ignore the merits of digital marketing no more – stop seeing it as a foe , as foreign territory that scares the life out of the Board/Management team – and recognise it as a friend. Digital marketing gets you in conversations with your customers, enables you to react 24/7 to their every whim, ensures you have real time market research to inform product development and places you in an arena where you can compete at any level. It is quite probably the most cost effective form of communication you can tap into.

So it’s time to take action. Get moving now and you can still get ahead of the game and your competitors before they even start to whisper “green shoots”.

Grab the bull by its horns, step into the unknown and make those ultimate business changing decisions. To get you started here are a few pointers to set you off on the right path as you look at how you can maximise the benefits of making friends with digital marketing…

Focus on strategy
Now would be a very good time to spend a few hours (or perhaps days…) reviewing your core business strategy. Have another look at the SWOT analysis – maybe update it in light of recent changes in the market place, but DON’T just focus on the threats. 

It’s a time to ask – possibly for the first time in quite a while – some of those big, scary questions about who we are and what we really offer as a business and to take a long, cold, hard look at what we need to do to make ourselves stronger, better, faster, smarter and more relevant to our clients than our toughest competitors.

Think about the channels that you use – which provide the highest return on investment for your business? There are many digital channels that you can employ to cut your cost per acquisition and increase your revenue and thus your profitability e.g. any channel that allows you to keep a very close eye on, or fix, your CPA is ideal for this kind of campaign. Affiliates are best of all, if you can get the volume, as the CPA is completely fixed in advance and you ONLY pay for a sale – thus guaranteeing the cost effectiveness of the campaign. Paid search, aggregators and banners – if bought on a cost per click basis can also deliver great results as long as the campaigns are managed effectively within tight margins by people who know what they are doing!

On a simpler level, try and upload new and engaging content on a regular basis and link to other websites so that search engines know you’ve entered the digital age. Gather data from your customers to make sure you have an accurate and ‘warm’ database that wins hands down over cold email lists. This will strengthen client communication and ensure your new services are being promoted to the relevant people.

Get creative online
Remember, you’re in control and work this to your advantage. You have the power to change your message, your offer, literally almost anything about your business in order to better match the current trading climate. Online channels enable you to do this 24/7 in a variety of different ways so test the waters. It’s very easy to run test campaigns online to see what works and what doesn’t with a limited budget. One of the key benefits of digital marketing is the rate at which you can respond to consumer demand and behaviour. 

The online audience thrives on the new, the innovative and the ´inspired´. Success stems from the strategy behind the design and on-going analytics with which to measure and continuously improve it. In the battle for attention online, creativity in terms of design, message, media planning, delivery and execution pays big dividends.

Now is the time to get creative, to think and re-think about opportunity, not just survival. Who knows, this may be just the kind of external pressure you need to get you to make some of those changes that you sort-of-kind-of know that you should have been taking care of for the last few years? Should you re-brand? Launch a new product? Kill an old one? Get in conversations with your customers and we’re sure all will become clear…

Immerse yourself in the digital community
Get out there and poke some people, make a few friends, post some tweets, share some views and generally become part of what is already a very significant movement in the way that future consumers interact with each other, brands and business in general. If you don’t, you will miss out on the many opportunities to get your brand message across and convert members of this ever-growing community into customers. 

We all know the stories about the likes of Kellogg and their huge marketing drives during the great depression. Within our own client base we can learn lessons from companies who have employed similar, bold strategies during more recent times of uncertainty resulting in huge commercial advantage on the upswing.  

In summary, the role of marketing over the next few months is crucial but the role of digital marketing is imperative to the life-long success of your business. You do need a strategy for how you implement this, but there’s also a need to just talk, and listen. The art of conversation is very much alive online – make sure you’re involved and we guarantee you’ll reap the rewards.