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Back to Marketing Basics: Marketing Strategy in the Digital AgeSo, just what IS marketing strategy in the digital age? According to Forbes, marketing strategy involves uncovering consumer needs and communicating the benefits of brands (hopefully linking benefits to needs, one must assume). Greg Satell, who wrote the piece, goes on to lament the “good ol’ days” (pre-internet) when you just put together a cool TV ad — radio spot or print — and watched fly off the shelf. Sorry Greg, I’m oversimplifying for dramatic effect, but many folks still think that way — create ad, share on media channel, go to bank to deposit profits.

Marketing strategy in the digital age

Marketing strategy in the digital age, again according to Greg, now reflects the explosion of media channels — everything from social networks, to websites, to review sites, to apps, to … You get the idea? He used this cool graphic to depict the goals of your marketing strategy in the digital age or any age, for that matter. Resting on the pillars of sales, awareness, and advocacy, it certainly beats a narrow-minded focus on sales, but is that all there is to marketing strategy?

And, I think lots of other folks struggle to understand marketing strategy and how to create winning marketing strategies in the digital age. That’s why my Slideshare entitled Marketing Strategy was viewed over 35 THOUSAND times (and downloaded hundreds of times) and put me in the top 2% of all content viewed on the platform — not to toot my own horn, but I’m really proud of this.

Marketing strategy in ANY age

Marketing strategy in the digital age — or any age — involves long-term planning that allocates scares organizational resources (time, money, talent, relationships) in a way that optimizes achievement of organizational goals. PERIOD. No where in this definition does it talk about communication. That’s because marketing is SO much more than “selling and telling“.

1. Marketing strategy means analysis

You need to figure out where you ARE and where you’re GOING, before you can figure out how to get there — duh! So, your first step is analyzing your current situation — called an environmental scan. An environmental scan looks at everything surrounding where you are: technology, customers, competitors, economy, and laws. Only by thoroughly understanding where you are, can you start planning.

2. Goals and objectives

Next, you need to create goals and objective — which should be SMART goals.

3. Formulate strategy

Now, you’re ready to plan strategy. Various tools help with some of the heavy lifting necessary. For instance:

4. Create tactics

Too many businesses start with tactics and forget all the strategic planning necessary to make a marketing strategy work. I’ve had potential clients tell me: “I want a viral marketing campaign”, but that’s a tactic (plus, even the best can’t guarantee a campaign will go viral and beware if someone does). In fact, some campaigns go viral with little lift in product sales.

5. Monitor

Part of your strategy involves creating KPIs (key performance indicators). Monitoring performance based on KPIs tells you how well you’re doing just like the gauges in your car tell you about your car’s performance.

6. Adjust

Modify both tactics and strategy based on your KPIs. Work toward optimizing your performance.