How to develop a digital marketing strategy that gets results – Part 1

Written for The Icehouse by Debra Chantry and published here.

Clients often ask me, “What is a good digital marketing strategy for my business?” and the answer I always give is “It depends”.

It doesn’t feel like a helpful answer, however after reading this article you will hopefully understand why this is the best answer to this question.

They almost always continue, “But, I need to have a facebook and a twitter account don’t I?”

And the answer remains exactly the same – “It depends”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of digital and social media, but one size does not fit all!

Your digital marketing strategy will very much depend on your target audience and what you are trying to achieve as a business.

Digital marketing is without a doubt a growing part of any business. It enables you to reach a huge audience and to take your business global.

However, digital marketing is no different to any other marketing – it just uses different channels. Rather than TV, radio, print, Direct Marketing & other traditional media, you are using the newer channels of web, email, blogs, social media, videos, webinars. mobile marketing, proximity marketing, affiliate programmes and all those wonderful acronyms – SEO, SEM & CRO (Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Marketing or Paid Advertising and Conversion Rate Optimisation).

The same principles apply when you are developing a digital strategy as when you are writing a marketing strategy.

What is different with digital marketing is that you are often reliant on the customer to come to you and there is an expectation that what you offer will be more targeted and relevant to them…. And of course, the digital space is about 2-way conversations and user-generated content – this doesn’t happen with traditional media, which tends to be more one to many marketing and you get to do all the talking.
As such, the digital space is a great place to truly engage with your customers and drive the business results that you want… But you have to think carefully about how you use it.

Over the next 5 weeks, I am going to share with you the 5 steps that I think every company should go through, whether they are a start-up or an established owner-managed business, to develop an awesome digital strategy that will get results.

Before you start!

Before you start working on your digital strategy, it is essential that you have clearly defined your business goals.

Digital marketing is just another set of channels to reach your customers and so your digital objectives & strategy will fall out of your business objectives and will support and reflect your marketing objectives.

For example, if your business objective is to increase sales then your digital objective is likely to be about increasing awareness, increasing leads for the sales team or enabling / increasing online purchasing.

If your business objective is to reduce costs then your digital strategy may be around delivering customer service in the online environment.

There are generally 5 main digital objectives:

  • – Awareness
  • – Engagement
  • – Lead generation
  • – Revenue
  • – Customer Service

So, let’s get started…

Step 1 – Work out who your customers are & how they behave

Before you can start working on your digital strategy, you need to start by defining your target audience, in as much detail as you possibly can:

  • – What do you know about them? Age, sex, income, where they live, what they do, how they behave etc.
  • – What would you like to know about them? Are there any gaps in your knowledge of your customers?
  • – What sort of technology/ channels do they use & how often?

How do you know who your target audience is?

If you are an existing company, then take a look at your own database and see who is buying from you currently. If there is a really broad range, then take a look at who buys more or most often. Or decided on a niche that you would like to target.

If you are a start-up then take a look at your competitors or again, define a niche that you would like to target.

Once you understand your niche, then personally I like defining the audience demographically and then writing personas.

For example, if you were after males 25-35 years old, who lived in city centres and who earned $60,000 – $80,000 per annum, then you’d perhaps describe a typical day in the life of one of these customers like this…

“Jack is 26 years old and lives with flatmates in a house in Herne Bay. He wakes up at 6.30am and the first thing he does is check his iPhone for emails. He then heads to the gym, where he watches the news on his iPad while he runs on the treadmill. When he gets into work he briefly checks facebook, LinkedIn updates & emails on his work computer (a PC) and again before he heads home. When he gets home he eats his dinner in front of the TV, whilst browsing on his iPad. Jack has MySky so he will watch some programmes that he has recorded, before heading to bed. Jack regularly purchases items from the internet and has no concerns with online payments, although often he will research online and buy in-store.”

If there are any big gaps in your knowledge of your customers, then undertake some research to find out more about them….This doesn’t have to be expensive and it’s something that can reap huge benefits.

How do you do this?

Well, if you have some money, then you can employ an external research company. However, as a start-up or owner-managed business, you might not have the funds.

So, once you have defined your niche, then go out and talk to 3 or 4 of them (through friends & family or through existing customers if you are an established business) and ask them about their typical day, their behaviours, their technology and the sites or digital channels that they use.

Alternatively, use statistics New Zealand or google to find out more… you’d be surprised what you can find out from google J

One of the biggest mistakes that most people make is assuming that they know their audience.

I am not a 26 year old male and I live in suburbia, so what do I know about them and their behaviours?

I wouldn’t dare to think that my tastes and behaviours are anything like theirs and I’d definitely be talking to some people who fit into this category to get a better understanding from the target audience.

 

 

Private companies can benefit from a board of directors

All public companies, and many private companies, have a board of directors. A board of directors, from a legal perspective, is a group of individuals elected by the shareholders of a company to oversee the company on their behalf. They, in turn, delegate much of their authority to management. This delegation gives management the legal authority to perform many of its essential functions (signing contracts, for instance).

While publicly traded companies must have a board of directors, in many cases private companies can benefit from putting a board in place. And, in many cases, outside investors in private companies will insist on the creation of a board of directors as a mechanism for overseeing their investment.

Shareholders of smaller, private companies may be wondering what benefit there might be to having a board of directors. Some of them are:

1. A strong board of directors can add substantial value through their relationships.

A board will usually be comprised of senior executives with substantive experience, and many years of relationships with a wide variety of contacts. These relationships, if brought to bear on behalf of the companies they serve, can add a lot of value in many ways. Typical examples might be board members bringing manufacturing capacity, market opportunities and financing sources to the companies they support.

2. A board composed of qualified outsiders can bring a very useful perspective to bear on behalf of the company.

A strong board of directors brings a valuable perspective to the table. It often can spot problems that are not immediately obvious to management, and can point to solutions that are not easily seen by the folks in the trenches at the company. It can be helpful, perhaps critical, to have an experienced hand providing high-level guidance at certain key junctures in a company’s life.

3. Management is held accountable to an outside party.

While this may not always be pleasant for management, this accountability can provide motivation for management to prioritize appropriately. The board has a fiduciary duty to the shareholders to ensure that the company is being managed to the shareholders’ benefit. This means that they will be highly motivated to ensure that management keeps moving the company in the correct direction, as mandated by the board. The prospect of an imminent board meeting to report progress on the sales plan, for example, can have a wonderful impact on the sales team’s focus.

4. Having professional “best of breed” governance practices in place can only add value to the company.

With appropriate board governance in place, management must provide justification for its actions. Because a board of directors has the fiduciary duty to oversee the activities of the company, there is less chance of a “skeleton in the closet” since company initiatives have been justified before a board, and approved by them. There is an intangible benefit to being able to point to doing things the “right way,” which can make a prospective investor much more comfortable with the company.

These are a few benefits of putting in place appropriate governance structures such as a board of directors. If done correctly, the result will be a more effectively run company, and a more profitable company, with management’s efforts being more tightly focused on those matters that will propel the company to the next level.

http://www.bizjournals.com/eastbay/stories/2008/03/03/smallb3.html

7 Great Reasons to have an Advisory Board

The following article was sourced through Google and we think it succinctly gives you the main reasons to consider an Advisory Board.

We do however believe that Advisory Board Members should be paid a small fee to attend meetings, if they are more regular than twice per year. This forms a commitment to attend, and also to do the required research and reading before attending the meeting.

And although you should think of your Advisory Board Members as Mentors, if you want more regular mentoring sessions, you should take on a dedicated Business Mentor.

Advisory Boards: Seven Great Reasons to Have One

by Anita Campbell

Have you ever thought about setting up an Advisory Board?

It can be one of the best moves you make for your business. And it is easier than you think — costing little or nothing.

Here are seven great reasons to set one up today.

1. Expertise you can’t buy

Advisory Board members can bring skill sets that are totally out of reach for many small businesses.

Take the example of an Advisory Board for a small technology company. The Advisors are:

  • A finance manager with Fortune 500 experience
  • A retired CEO
  • The CTO of a midsized technology company
  • A university professor

Imagine what it would cost to hire this level of skill, experience, and knowledge. A carefully chosen Advisory Board can give you access to such people for a tiny fraction of that cost — or no cost. Most of the time, the only expense comes from convening meetings.

However, you don’t have to wait for a meeting. When you have an Advisory Board, good advice is just a phone call or email away.

2. Business contacts when you need them

Choose Advisory Board members with diverse backgrounds, and their Rolodexes will become one of your most valuable assets.

Looking for potential customers, sympathetic bankers, well-heeled investors, or even talented new employees? Sometimes a brief introduction by an Advisor is all it takes to open doors that you thought were closed — or that you never knew existed.

Advisory Board members are sincerely interested in your success. They want to introduce you to anyone they feel might help grow your business.

3. The benefits of a Board of Directors without the hassles

Some business owners think an Advisory Board is the same as a Board of Directors. Yet, the two are very different.

An Advisory Board is exactly what the name suggests: it is there simply to advise. This means you reap the benefits of your advisors, without all the formalities, intrusiveness and expense of a Board of Directors.

  • Advisory Board members have no formal authority or power within your company, unlike Directors.
  • An Advisory Board does not have the same legal responsibilities (fiduciary duties) as a Board of Directors. That means you won’t need to pay the high fees and provide Directors Insurance coverage to protect them from liability exposure.
  • You need not reveal your business’s most intimate financial details to Advisory Board members. Unlike with Directors, it’s your choice how much information to share with Advisors.
  • You need not observe legal formalities for meetings, such as voting, quorums, etc. With a Board of Directors, such legalities are mandatory.

4. Simple and inexpensive to set up and operate

Advisory Boards are relatively simple and inexpensive to set up.

They can be as informal as a breakfast meeting twice a year. Or they can be slightly more structured, with regular working meetings once a quarter complete with agendas. The level of formality and structure is up to you.

What are the costs? Most Advisory Boards serve for free. Business owners typically call upon friends and colleagues who are willing to help out — and flattered to be asked.

However, it is customary to reimburse Advisors for long distance travel or out-of-pocket expenses. At the very least, expect to foot the bill for complimentary breakfasts and lunches.

5. Grow your business faster

An Advisory Board is a great way to signal to the world your intent to grow your business. Few actions say as much about your commitment. Only companies that are serious about growth take the time and effort to organize an Advisory Board.

When assembling your Board, pick Advisors who can help you develop growth strategies. Individuals whose judgment you respect and who have strategic thinking ability are what you need on an Advisory Board.

6. A personal sounding board

Advisory Boards can serve as a sounding board for new ideas — or for solving weighty problems.

One of the best things about Advisory Board members is that they are willing, informed listeners. Sometimes, simply being able to talk to someone you trust is all it takes.

Your Advisors may well have dealt with the same issues in the past. They may be able to lead you to creative solutions so simple that you’ve overlooked them. They have probably “been there, done that.” You gain the benefit of their hard learned lessons without having to go through the same pain yourself.

7. Mentoring

Let’s face it: The top is a lonely place. Business owners often have few ways to get support and guidance.

Your employees expect you to have all the answers. But to whom do you turn when you need help with those answers?

That’s where an Advisory Board can make all the difference.

Think of your Advisors as mentors. Mentors help coach you to become a more effective leader. They inspire you to greater leadership heights through their own positive examples. They help you get through the tough times. They support and encourage.

Advisors can bring out the best in you.

So what are you waiting for? Get started on that Advisory Board!

About the Author:

Anita Campbell is a former senior Corporate executive and serial entrepreneur who has launched several small businesses. Want to get your business to the next level? Check out Anita’s Small Business Trends weblog.

Copyright © 2004, Anita Campbell All rights reserved.