May 1, 2014

Marketing in the Digital Age

A look at four essential technology strategies


The responsibilities of an organization’s leadership team are not getting any easier. As technology continues to change the business landscape for the C-suite, you must now lead your company in using that technology to enhance the value of your product. This responsibility can no longer be outsourced to a chief information officer or to consultants. You should have firsthand knowledge of how technology can be implemented best at your organization, and if you don’t, it’s time to get up to speed quickly.

To that end, here are the four most important areas of focus. If you don’t think it’s worth reading further, remember that companies like Kodak, Borders and Blockbuster—all of which went bankrupt—also thought they did not need to adopt new technology or understand the impact of neglecting it.


One-to-One Digital Marketing

There are five tools used in digital marketing: websites, social media, mobile applications, online traffic drivers and measurement systems. To stay vibrant, your company’s outreach ability must be world-class, targeting prospects, current customers and market influencers. We have clearly shifted from a world where this can all be done through “spray and pray” advertising or in-person meetings. Today, a successful company gathers large amounts of data about the people it hopes to influence, and uses that information to build closer relationships. By optimizing your use of the five tools mentioned above, you can build a powerful net to catch constituents online, and provide your critical relationships with a better sense of connection to you. Fail to learn how to apply digital marketing, and your competitors will slowly eat away at your market share.


Customer Intelligence

In order to use one-to-one marketing to acquire new customers or build closer relationships with current customers, you must first gather data about them so you can customize your communications and connections. Instead of the 10 fields of customer data in your customer relationship management (CRM) system today, you should increase that number to 30 or 40 fields. Even the little details count: For example, learn a customer’s shirt size and favorite foods, and include that information in the database. The next time you work with him or her, you’ll be able to provide a thoughtful, personalized thank-you gift. But to do that, you’ll have to build your system’s ability to store more data. And once you’ve collected enough information, you can create new analytics to see how customer behavior shifts over time. There is a saying in technology circles: “Data is the new oil.” In other words, data can be a very powerful raw material—if you learn how to refine it.

Data can be a very powerful raw material—if you learn how to refine it.

The Organizational Voice and Content Marketing

Organizations must cultivate their own unique voice online. Many channels allow you to communicate directly with your customers: blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, video blogs, text messages, etc. Most organizations use a combination of these channels to deliver information. Step back and re-architect your own organization’s voice so it is professional. Focus on its tone and how it sounds to readers, and carefully organize the content mix so you are providing value to your audience, not just “selling” services.


Inbound Marketing

Almost three-fifths of a purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier, according to a 2012 study by CEB, an executive advisory company. The reason for this is the vast amount of online information that customers can study before making a buying decision. Many potential buyers will never get in touch with you if you do not have a powerful online presence. For many buyers, the sales process starts online, so it is critical to get these buyers to select your marketing system. This is called “inbound marketing,” the process of gathering everyone into your sales process who already has a need and is looking online for a solution. Too many companies are paying too little attention to this avenue of revenue.

Leadership means that you have a vision of where to go that is more accurate than your followers’, and that you are not only painting that vision, but also motivating your team to achieve it. Technology mastery is no longer optional—it is a requirement if you hope to be relevant in the future.

Scott Klososky is a speaker, writer and consultant specializing in forecasting how technology can be leveraged to help organizations. His clients include Fortune 500 corporations, associations, franchisors and government organizations.