James Cherkoff, Founder of Collaborate Marketing, looks at how you can get ahead of the pack with agile digital strategy
1. Is Your Mobile The Same As Their Mobile?
The blizzard of jargon in digital marketing creates confusion. For example, when people use the term, ‘mobile’, what do they mean?
The market research firm may mean consumers-on-the go, the ad agency is referring to smartphones (but not tablets), the developers are thinking Android vs iOS, while the client means an anti-showrooming app.
Who’s right? Hard to say. Increasingly, research shows devices don’t determine behaviour. For instance, most search activity on smartphones is done in the home.
2. Would Your Plan Pass The ‘Chairman’ Test?
Senior executives aren’t interested in technology. They want to know about growing market share, extending product lines and reducing cost.
If your digital strategy is limited to clicks, fans and followers you won’t have the attention of the people who make the decisions. I was reminded of this recently when I was asked to go and speak to the Chairman of a financial services firm. Before I went in his assistant told me, "He says that if you start talking about technology, he’ll fall asleep or walk out".
3. Are You Suffering From Shiny-Shiny Syndrome?
Too frequently digital marketing strategy starts with technology, rather than a helpful consumer insight.
In some instances, this approach is repeated over and over, as the latest ‘shiny-shiny’ gadget, social network or mobile gizmo is leapt upon. This leads to technology burn-out and exhaustion, as cycles of digital activity appear to lead nowhere.
4. Have You Got The Digital Data Habit?
The explosion of analytical tools on the market, from Facebook Insights to Google’s Universal Analytics to Twitter’s Amplify to Flurry, has led to the coining of the term, ‘Big Data’. Which can all sound rather intimidating.
However, it’s important to remember that all of these services are merely reporting signals about consumer behaviour. Which has always been at the heart of the media and marketing industry.
That said, there are some important differences. Unlike previous sources, such as traditional consumer panels, this data is continuous and can’t be dipped in and out of like a focus group.
Also, much of this information is behavioural rather than demographic or attitudinal - which can require a mindshift.
The best way to start is to dive in and make digital data a daily habit that helps get closer to consumers’ lives. Sometimes, this just involves finding the person in your company or agency who is already collecting the information.
5. Are You In The Cathedral Or The Bazaar?
In 1997, in his seminal essay, 'The Cathedral And The Bazaar', open-source advocate Eric Raymond explained how software design was changing from an institutional world to an open-source model.
The Cathedrals were the huge operating systems built over many years by engineers locked away in small teams in massive corporations.
The Bazaar was the informal networks of developers around the world collaborating in organic groups to build systems that no one owned and to which anyone could contribute.
It could be argued that, 20 years on, marketing is going through a similar transformation. The question is, have you put in place the new processes and resources to deliver your digital strategy?
Are you operating in the bustling street market of the Bazaar – or are you stuck in the pulpit of the Cathedral?
6. Digital Marketing Or Marketing In A Digital World?
As technology and software proliferate, the term digital marketing may be unhelpful, as it sustains the type of siloed-mentality that creates many of the challenges faced by businesses and brands.
For instance, techniques that originated on the web, such as the division of advertising and media through behavioural services, are popping up in other areas such as mainstream TV.
Sky’s AdSmart service where next door neighbours watching the same TV show will see different ads, is an example of digital models being introduced into ‘traditional’ channels.
In short, does it make sense to talk about digital marketing when, increasingly, all markets are digital?
James Cherkoff is the Founder of Collaborate Marketing. Follow him on Twitter @cherkoff
Our Digital Strategy course runs in Newcastle on 21st May and Manchester on 17th September
You can also book it for London on 10th October
Last updated 07/03/2014