As summer winds down, many organizations are beginning to evaluate their results in 2013 and are setting their sights on next year. If your annual planning date has been set, there is one important element that needs to be included in your annual plan agenda. It is your marketing plan – specifically your digital marketing plan. It is no secret that B2B companies need to have a dynamic resource to compete in today’s market. I have had numerous conversations lately with business executives who are very keen on jumping into the digital world with both feet, but they are having a hard time understanding how this will truly impact the organization’s results. One CEO told me he has heard this message from several organizations during networking and association events.
They are usually doing things ‘like Facebook,’ but can’t attribute much in the way of new business. His comments didn’t really shock me. Two things will almost certainly lead to failure with any digital marketing strategy:
- No strategic plan
- Not defining the goals of your program
In order to get you on the right path to a solid strategic plan for 2014, here are the 5 W’s of marketing planning (we decided to shy away from the true Marketing 101 lesson of the 4 P’s). This will serve as a nice blueprint as you develop your 2014 plan.
The key starting point for all marketing strategy, who are you trying to appeal to? Are you looking to connect with clients or prospects, or both? Who is your demographic? Digital marketing and social media allow you to target specific groups in a way that was never possible offline. The best strategies are built on specific target markets so you need to decide who to target before you figure out how to do it.
You also need to decide who will be on your team? Let’s face it, your plan will fail (as well as your business) if you try to do it all on your own. The functions to consider in building your digital marketing team are:
Referring back to ‘visible results,’ one of the biggest issues here is that most organizations haven’t identified what success looks like. In other words, documenting and agreeing to what has to happen in order for you to be happy with your progress. With most of our clients, we use digital measures like:
- Website traffic
- Time spent on site
- Lead generation
- User interaction
But the most important measure we apply is business growth. When you set your digital marketing targets, never forget that business growth is the ultimate goal.
Where will you invest your time, energy and resources to get the maximum return?
Also, where will you participate? There are hundreds of places where your organization can have a presence. The trick is to determine the ideal locations (like LinkedIn or a blog) that will have the greatest impact for your organization.
Develop a proactive and systematic schedule. Consistency here is the key. There are a bunch of very good studies that focus on when the best time of day and best days are to post items. Every sector and region is slightly different, so test your market to find the right mix.
This should be asked before you do anything online – corporately or personally. Why am I posting or sending this? You should be able to answer this question with an honest appraisal of its value. ‘Because I like it’ is not enough in business; you need to have a genuine motive. If it doesn’t provide value, or get people thinking or talking, then why post it?
Once you have thought through the questions above, you should be ready to develop a plan, no matter how simple or complex, for your digital marketing strategy. A definition of a plan (as my good friend Larry Linne teaches it) is where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there.
As we say at Quintain, “Digital Marketing isn’t magic, but there is a science to it!”
If the information above got you thinking about your digital marketing plan for 2014, click here for a free Inbound Marketing Assessment!