7 simple digital strategy principles to guide your small business
We've developed 7 simple principles to guide your digital marketing strategy. Use them to get the best outcomes for your business in the 21st Century.
Reading Time: 7 mins
7 principles. No more than 3 words each. Guidance for your marketing strategy in a dynamic world. It’s easy to get distracted by all the content out there – just like your customers.
All of the principles are simple and work together. We’ve stood on the shoulders of the marketing giants before us to build this list. How do we know they work? Because we use them everyday to grow our marketing agency.
1. It’s for Everyone
“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation”
Peter Drucker, the man who invented management
We can all appreciate the insight of the quote. But don’t expect it to immediately lead to a larger marketing investment.
It is super easy to get pinned down by each new crisis that pops up. As your strategy remains that lingering item on your list of things to do.
Digital marketing is a mindset, not an obstacle to be overcome. [Tweet]
You want to grow your business and use the best methods available to achieve your goals.
The entry price for digital marketing is access to internet. [Tweet]
But what we are not saying it is the total solution for everyone. It is making best use of the digital solutions that fit with your marketing objectives.
It can be as simple as a Facebook account. A strategy we’ve seen a successful restaurant use to book out night after night. They knew how to reach their target customers and delivered an easy method of conversion.
Opportunity cost is the benefit lost by choosing to do one thing over another. ROI is the technical term for the expected efficiency of an investment.
What’s the answer to overcome these perceptions? A plan that is a perfect fit for your business, its goals, its risk profile and its growth. Without a plan for growth, you aren’t taking the opportunity to succeed.
If you don’t like the outlay, start with the free tools. If you don’t want to invest the time yourself, outsource at a platform like fiverr. If you worry about the return, progressively invest and assess results.
Ultimately is it about leveraging the marketing activities that will deliver the best results for your business. This is what leads us straight to principle no. 2.
2. No Random Acts
“It takes 6 to 8 Touches to Generate a Viable Sales Lead”
This quote is one of many out there that reminds us conversion does not happen on the first click. What’s the exact number? Well the answer is that it depends on the market and what you are selling. A large purchase with greater risk is likely to have more touch points than a smaller consumer item.
Using SEO to improve page ranking does not necessarily lead to brand awareness. Increasing engagement on social media does not always mean more leads on your site. In fact, a period of low traffic may have higher conversion due to better quality leads.
So what’s the moral of the story?
You can’t rely on a single tactic to deliver results. [Tweet]
Potential buyers are incredibly distracted. So you want to be there at critical points to help them make that decision in your favour.
A great social media campaign or search ranking is undermined when directed to an unconvincing site. The visitor will bounce, never to be seen again. Search Engines are getting better at assessing that too through Click Through Rate (CTR). All the parts need to work together to deliver the expected experience.
Rand Fishkin provides a great presentation on the disappointment of many marketing efforts. In short, it is the perception that participation in the process is the basis for success.
Either through buyer behaviour or algorithms, there will continue to be experience convergence. Random acts of marketing are a great way to invest with a high risk of no return.
A solid platform built on aligned activities is the enabler. This platform is based on your target segments and buyer’s journey. This takes us to principle no. 3.
3. Fundamentals before Fads
“Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals”
Jim Rohn, Business Philosopher
Everybody has their own approach, but invariably the marketing process involves:
- Understanding your environment, through assessing the landscape and how that relates to your business.
- Creating a strategy designed to achieve your goals. Usually dealing concepts like: vision, positioning, branding and segmentation.
- Defining how to to achieve the strategy. Often centred around balancing the marketing mix to deliver the planned results.
- Executing the tactics, monitoring, evaluating and modifying.
The capability to analyse the environment has changed with technology. Strategy theories and frameworks, range from emergent to the deliberate. New marketing tactics and techniques are always being developed. Delivery has developed an agile approach and change management continues to grow.
Yet what has not changed, is the need to understand your business, make decisions, execute and adapt. The marketing mix is a perfect case study. It started with the 4Ps (product, price, place, promotion) in the 1960s. That has since been extended to the 7Ps (people, positioning and packaging). Since the 1990s, there have been the 4Cs (consumer value, cost, convenience, communication). These map to the 4Ps but are meant to reflect increased customer focus.
The choice of marketing mix is not the enabler. It is understanding marketing relationships and how they align with your environment. Including being able to identify and respond to the direction of the market – i.e. trends.
Often people confuse fads and trends. Fads rise and fall. Trends gain power over time. Fads can be leveraged but they pose a serious risk to ROI. Any day your investment could come to zero. Think planking, gangnam style, ALS ice bucket challenge and Pokémon Go (in due time).
Digital marketing provides opportunity for every business, but that does not mean do everything. Establish a cohesive marketing machine before any forays into fads. The better you are at the fundamentals, the better you will balance investment in trends and fads.
4. Value over Cost
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get”
Warren Buffet, Business Magnate
When deciding on an investment it is easy to look at the cost and make a decision based on how it fits within the budget. But in strategy there is that interplay between investment and return. It undermines your marketing objectives to align them with your goals, then assess solutions based on cost.
Determining ROI will be different for every business. But it comes down to how much growth a business wants and what risk you will accept to get there.
The marketing budget is certainly the key enabler. But it is just a percentage of the total business budget. That percentage is a value-based decision on how important it is to the business.
Therefore value is the start and end point of marketing strategy. [Tweet]
It drives the expected growth and justifies the risk that the business is prepared to accept. As Warren Buffet says, price is what is paid to get that value.
For agencies pitching to clients, it is easy to slip into the mode of cost-based pricing. Or just find your competitor’s pricing and reference against that.
The problem is that you promote a Unique Value Proposition. That collection of capability you have organised to deliver amazing outcomes.
Your business is offering more than the sum of its costs. It is difficult to talk ROI and then not have pricing aligned to this proposition. Otherwise how do you justify cost as part of a digital strategy?
5. Consent is Key
“Permission Marketing is the tool that unlocks the power of the Internet”
Seth Godin, Entrepreneur and marketing thought leader
There are countless Seth Godin quotes that we could have used here. But this one ties directly back to our first principle. Just as the Internet has a low barrier to entry, so too is there an ability block unwanted disruptions.
In 2016, at least 419 million people are blocking ads (PageFair 2016 Mobile Adblocking Report). That’s 22% of the world’s 1.9bn smartphone users optimising their own User Experience. So it is no wonder that research has identified a clear dislike of ads:
Just as we said Fundamentals before Fads, then a fundamental for engagement is consent. Advertising has its place. But without a naturally consensual platform, then you will just get blocked out. Validation 101 is Google’s announcement that sites with pop-up adverts were to be punished from 10 January 2017.
Just think about asking someone to go to movies with you. Wouldn’t you want to know they were interested in the movie first? An established relationship will improve your chances even more. Sure the odd stranger in the mall might say yes, but it is not long before security throws you out.
6. Content is King
“Content is the emotional and informational bridge between commerce and consumer.”
Jay Baer, Convince and Convert
Content is King, may well be the most controversial of these principles. Why? Because the importance of content is accepted, but people just can’t agree on its role.
Our view? The understanding of ‘King’ is purely individual perception. Much of the objection is associated with the primacy of content.
That is content is not an end in itself. Engagement, relationships and conversion are needed. Sure, but no King ever did it on his own and every King is different.
Discussions about viral, long-form, podcasts, video and advertisements are all still talking about content. Regardless of the tactics, content engages along every point of the theoretical funnel.
Need further convincing? Let us use quotes from some people far more famous than us:
So what is content?
“Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life.” Avinash Kaushik, founder of Market Motive
What role does it play in marketing?
“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” Andrew Davis, founder of Monumental Shift
Where does it fit?
“Content is king, but distribution is queen. And she wears the pants.” Jonah Peretti, founder and CEO of BuzzFeed
The important message to takeaway is that content is the medium. This medium creates something that the audience cares about. Thus leading us to principle no. 7.
7. Conversion is Karma
“Consent is Key. Content is King. Conversion is Karma.” [Tweet]
If you have read through our whole list, then this principle should not need much explanation. With karma, your words and actions have consequences. There is no guarantee of success. It a dynamic world and the consumer does not act the same way every day. But if you do achieve conversion, then some smart decisions and hard work will most likely have got you there. Maybe even it was the application principles similar to these. If so we would love to hear about it.
Digital marketing seems like a recent development. But it is marketing using technology and marketing is not recent. So we’ve developed these principles to take advantage of our predecessors’ hard work and put them in context of the 21st Century.
There are all these smart people collaborating and competing in the digital world. So change is the norm and there will be new strategies and tactics everyday.
The key takeaway? Everybody can do something digital, but that does not mean you need to do everything. Some guiding principles, smart decisions and great execution will certainly provide a great platform.