A few months ago, I was in conversation with the CEO of a multi-billion$ global consumer goods company. One of the topics of discussion was around online, digital and social strategies that the enterprise was embarking on (yes! They are some-what “old school” in operations even in 2014 and as I learned there are so many companies who are NOT ONLINE, NOT adopting DIGITAL, and NOT really SOCIAL – and many are successful with impressive growth targets), and the conversation got exceptionally interesting when we spoke about the below questions:
- Is there a boundary between online, digital and social strategies?
- Does business strategy drive online marketing strategy?
- Does digital drive social?
- Does social drive digital?
The questions stayed with me..
A few days later, I was in discussion with another entrepreneur friend who runs a successful manufacturing unit which has a diversified business portfolio of apparel manufacturing and agricultural machinery. He was planning to launch a social campaign and again had some basic questions
- Is online marketing necessary?
- Digital / Social marketing – What first and What second? Why?
And then a few days back I had the opportunity to connect with a high-end fashion designer who again asked me the same question?
- Should I do social? Which social channels?
- Should I have a digital marketing strategy?
All led to long long long conversations and some interesting insights. Before I get into my views, I did some online research on the basic definitions.. Sharing snippets I found relevant:
Online Marketing (or Internet Marketing) refers to a set of powerful tools and methodologies used for promoting products and services through the Internet. Online marketing includes a wider range of marketing elements than traditional business marketing due to the extra channels and marketing mechanisms available on the Internet.
Digital Marketing refers to any marketing delivered via an online platform or involving an interactive response channel including mobile. Digital marketing is: Building awareness and promoting a brand or product using all available digital channels
Without much ado, let me now share my key insights from the lens of a marketer
(1) Business Strategy should drive the Marketing Strategy; and Marketing insights can drive Business Strategy For e.g: If your business strategy is to provide a portfolio of products and services to your customers, your marketing strategy should be aligned accordingly. And if your marketing insights indicate that your customers want you to add a new service, then your business strategy should be open to the consideration
(2) Marketing initiatives should ALWAYS be based on marketing objectives
(3) Online, Digital and Social Media Marketing are marketing channels and a marketing strategy. The boundaries blur. Below is a conceptual view
Online Marketing examples include web-sites, blogs, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), online ads, e-mail marketing, online Press Release (PR)
Social Media Marketing examples include leveraging social media platforms like Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn for your marketing and promotional activities
Offline Marketing examples include print ads, Press Release, Direct Mail, Telemarketing, etc.
Real-world Social Marketing refers to marketing through ‘real-world’ social interactions and conversations at events, word-of-mouth publicity, etc.
(4) It is (near) impossible to show quantitative ROI (Return on Investment) for every marketing initiative – specially for Internet Marketing initiatives. In marketing parlance, the qualitative ROI can be subtle, long-term and not directly attributable. Below is an good way to showcase ROI
(5) “No Money Marketing” is often misunderstood. It is NOT about ZERO $ marketing spend, but optimally leveraging marketing channels coupled with creative marketing strategies to have maximum customer reach and impact in line with marketing objectives
(6) Social and Digital – What comes first? : It depends on your business, and your understanding of social and digital. I know of companies whose digital strategy drove their social media marketing strategies, and I know of companies whose social strategy drove their digital initiatives. Suffice to say, the digital world and social world are closely coupled and if you do one, you (or / and the ecosystem you’re a part of – like partners, customers, community, suppliers) also make inroads into the other. In most cases, Social Media Marketing is a sub-set of Digital Marketing.
(7) The choice of which social channels to use depends completely on your social media objectives and where your customers are. Don’t do Social because everyone is doing social and because it is the new buzzword. Do it because you believe it will add value to your business and marketing
(8) It is better not to start social media initiatives if you don’t have a long term plan, management commitment and the “right brains” behind your social initiatives. Too many companies start and stop too soon, and that impacts your brand negatively
(9) Digital and Social are evolving and will continue to evolve. Everyone is learning, so be open to learning, failing and course-corrections. That is the only way to succeed.
What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know…