Maybe you are absolutely convinced that ‘Digital’ is the future and have built your entire business operation around it. Or maybe you want to be ‘omnichannel’ and cover all the options. Maybe you are still working out how to successfully integrate digital marketing with your current methods – or how to best trade online. In reverse order then:
- If you are working out how to create or integrate digital marketing into your current methods, remember that the plan must be right for your Don’t do it digitally unless you have a compelling reason. Marketing a local window-cleaning business is very different to exporting air-conditioning equipment. Business owners like the idea of going digital because it’s ‘cheap’. They also like it because it’s measurable. But Digital Marketing is still marketing. It should be planned, and it should have an ultimate motive in mind: either making sales or building a hot lead database. Anything else is, frankly, a waste of time and effort. I can help you understand if it’s the right thing to do, and to put the basics in place to give you purpose and lead you to some kind of equity. And all without the techie jargon – because I don’t know any.
- An Omnichannel business model basically means doing a bit of everything: you may be a traditional retailer looking to follow the crowd away from the High Street, or looking for new routes to market. This is the best and worst of both worlds. The best, because it can combine all the best aspects of retailing, and it is increasingly where the established retailers are heading. The worst, because you may end up doing twice as much work. As a seasoned observer and trading partner working with retailers huge and tiny, I have some practical advice on how to keep it real.
- If you are a ‘pureplay’ digitally-focussed business, you will be either fighting with or collaborating with the mammoths of pureplay like Ebay, Amazon, Wiggle and many others. You might be a techie first and a digital marketer second Even when you are pureplay, your customers often aren’t. They like to get out occasionally. Have you noticed how many pureplay businesses do print advertising for example? I can act as a counterweight to the digitally-focused business and help you see the customer experience in the round.
Example One: The transformation from offline to online communications
This company operated primarily in B2B selling to the trade. Historically, this had meant printing plentiful supplies of price lists, product lists and trade brochures. We were regularly told this was the ONLY way customers would receive information. And yet we had a warehouse full of obsolete brochures. Very quickly, we set out the benefits of transferring as much of this as possible online. We were also able to prove that those same ‘luddite’ customers were already ordering a lot of their supplies off their smartphone! We were fortunate in having a product perfect for inspiring and engaging. What we needed were three things: a plentiful supply of content, internal agreement that a combination of hard copy and digital ‘literature’ would be more flexible, current and manageable, and the buy-in of both customers and our traditionally-minded sales team. As we progressed we realised: a) we were fast becoming digital broadcasters and needed to think in terms of programming and editorial policy. B) we needed the resources and skills to do this job as content was no longer a ‘Friday afternoon’ task. C) We were able to use the data we were collecting to gather a degree of insight and intelligence we could never have afforded through traditional market research, along with a plentiful supply of qualified leads.
Example Two: The world-wide web!
A key benefit of digital for export companies is its worldwide reach. Very quickly, huge strides have been made in being able to offer instant translation widgets to all and sundry. Job done! Or is it? When we decided to launch our range of food products into the US, our website was going to be the only marketing communications tool we needed. Right? Wrong! Our product lent itself to demonstration and inspiration. The trouble was that there was a specialised vocabulary to this pursuit and we and our American audience didn’t speak the same language. As it turned out, everything, from product descriptions, product specifications and the terminology we were using to explain our products needed to be adapted. After all, we had decided we were just ‘foreigners’ taking a speculative punt: we were serious about presenting our brand and products as specifically tailored to the US market. So, one technology, one website but a complicated marketing task if we were to succeed. We succeeded and the process has since been repeated elsewhere. And it proves that the technical solution is often completely different to the marketing solution. I can show you how.
Example Three: E-commerce
When you are selling B2C (i.e. to the general public), you have to have a strong retail focus. Enough said. Selling B2B (to trade), is a different but equal challenge. Selling to both can be complicated! In two (B2B) companies I have implemented an e-commerce route to market. They had very different objectives and fulfilment was also different: one in-house and one using a specialist fulfilment house. And businesses that are predominantly B2B sometimes benefit by creating their own route to market. Of course it needs to be done carefully to avoid a trade backlash, but if you want to offer your whole range or even want to ‘trial market’ new products, this can be a useful tool for both generating incremental business and improving your new product launch strike rate.
It’s worth remembering though that the ‘moment of truth’ is always when the customer has their goods turn up on time and intact. But this is often outside the expertise and control of you as a seller. How do you manage this? And do you want to create any e-commerce infrastructure or simply sell it via an Amazon or Ebay store? It all depends what you want to achieve. If you want an impartial view to understand the options, or understand what you really need to focus on, I can get you started.
Whether you are looking to make your marketing communications more engaging, more measurable or more integrated, I can help. And if you are looking to trade and need a retail-eye view of how to do it, again, just ask.