I’m almost always asked by recruiters and clients “What would your digital strategy for our company look like.” This question comes early in the courtship before we’ve had a chance to discuss pretty much anything about the company. It seems that many companies assume that digital and social are magic bullets that can rocket them to success and people like me have some secret knowledge of how to make it work.
Here’s the secret: digital and social are tools, not strategies. To illustrate how digital and social fit into an overall marketing strategy, I have created a 10th “P of Marketing” and encourage you to keep all ten P’s in mind while laying out your marketing strategy for the new year.
The most successful companies create integrated marketing and sales strategies that use numerous tools to engage customers, build their brand recognition, and close the sale. Social media, when properly implemented, can be a powerful tool to drive recognition and engagement but you need all of your other ducks in a row to convert that into ROI.
The Four P’s of Marketing
Back in the 1960’s, E. Jerome McCarthy defined the classic “4 P’s of Marketing” that are now taught in every marketing course. These form the basis of a marketing strategy:
Product – what you sell. A physical product or service is your product.
Price – in most industries price is a rotating target based upon competition, industry as a whole, current trends, and predictions of sales.
Placement – where you sell your product and distribution channels.
Promotion – PR, advertising, sales, events, sponsorship, and anything else that expands knowledge of your product to your target audience.
Five More P’s of Marketing
The 4 P’s are the foundation of modern marketing and advertising. Through the years a few more “P’s” have been added and are generally acknowledged as being equally relevant:
Purpose – know the “why and what” of each piece of marketing material and how it fits into your overall strategy before you create and distribute it.
People – your employees and your customers are one of the keys to your success. Engaging with your customers and their engagement with you is priceless.
Processes – you need to have a process in place to follow up on leads, a marketing budget, and a strategic marketing plan.
Philosophy – it is no longer sufficient to be only a company with a product or service. You need to share your philosophy with the world. Warby Parker is shaking things up in the eyewear industry by donating one pair of glasses for every pair sold. Does your company have a mission to make the world a better place or are you simply hawking goods?
Packaging – packaging your product or service is integral to a homogenous brand experience. Physical or digital, how you package and deliver your goods is critically important.
And One More to Make an Even Ten and Tie it all Together
Today there are social networks that work well for nearly anyone to connect with a large audience outside of their local sphere of influence and companies of every size are looking to leverage that. As previously discussed, many see it as an end to itself and fail to understand that it is merely one more tool at their disposal. To help visualize where social fits in to your strategy I propose a tenth P that integrates seamlessly with the other nine:
Persistent Presence on Social Media – you need to post regularly and strategically with clearly defined goals. Using the platform to communicate a mix of your company’s purpose, processes, people, packaging, promotion, placement, price, product and philosophy can be highly engaging and successful.
The key here is that you need to have an overall strategy and goal always in mind and have your other nine P’s in place or your social media efforts will fail to convert into financial results. This illustration shows how your social media presence can form the hub of your marketing strategy allowing you to directly communicate all aspects of your marketing to your audience.
Examples of how not-to-do-it
I once had a client who made it a goal to have a tweet-a-day. A laudable goal for sure and one that took a great deal of front-of-mind effort. Unfortunately they did not follow my advice to have an overall marketing strategy and fell short in packaging, process, philosophy, promotion and people so it was difficult to develop engaging content and the tweets quickly became about daily goings on at the office. The campaign failed to engage an audience outside of the company and had zero ROI. It was abandoned because they put in significant effort and saw no return.
Another client has a popular social media presence with many followers due to the interesting and engaging content they post. Unfortunately, they did not want to invest in developing an overall marketing strategy and those posts frequently have nothing to do with their purpose, product, philosophy, people, or packaging and they fail to convert their followers into customers. They are quickly coming to feel that their “social strategy” is not worth the effort because potential customers who are attracted by the engaging social content fail to engage commercially.
Both of these clients made the mistake of seeing social as a strategy and failed to see it as merely one of the tools at their disposal to implement a cohesive marketing strategy.
Don’t fall victim to this all-too-common pitfall. An integrated strategy is like a net that has multiple nodes. You can catch fish if parts are missing, but when it is all in place and working together it is way more effective. Valuable leads are less likely to fall through the gaps.
Should you have a Digital strategy? Absolutely. Same for Pricing, Product, Purpose and all the other P’s. All of those individual strategies work together to create and communicate your Brand. Developing an integrated marketing strategy requires big picture thinking. An outside perspective provided by a brand consultant like Wolters Advertising can be hugely beneficial in helping you identify gaps in your current overall strategy and developing new tools and workflows to capture leads you are likely missing out on. Contact us today to bring your business to the next level.