One of the benefits of working as a Digital Marketing consultant is the opportunity it provides of meeting a variety of interesting businesses, people and getting a chance to understand and help solve different problems. Over the past 18 months, I have been fortunate to have got the opportunity to analyse varied businesses and help them with their Digital Marketing and Growth Strategies. It’s been a great learning experience for me as well, trying to understand what could be some of the common reasons and opportunities for all these varied businesses.
There are a few reasons when businesses feel the need for an external consultant when it comes to Digital Marketing:
- They have an idea and realise they need some expertise in developing an overall digital presence.
- They have been in business for some time, have some degree of Product Market fit and now realise they need Digital Marketing to grow their business and take it to the next level.
- They have been doing Digital Marketing for some time and would like an external pair of eyes to help them understand the true performance of their Digital Marketing and drive further efficiencies
One of the key learnings for me so far, having engaged with businesses in all of the above stages, is that, in most cases, the solution lies in the process.
Digital Marketing is a continuously evolving field. Channels come and go, as do tactics. What works well for one business in a particular context might not work for another. But one aspect that has really not changed is that it is a very data-driven field. And that, by necessity, requires businesses to have a strong process orientation to be successful.
What does this mean in practice?
Barriers to entry in Digital Marketing are low and keep dropping all the time, so almost anyone these days can start a Digital Marketing campaign from their computer in about 24 hours (or even less). This makes it very tempting to jump into a specific tactic headlong. However, just because execution is relatively simple and easy does not mean that one should not take the time to think through how one is going to evaluate the performance of their Digital Marketing. And this requires a Digital Marketing framework that includes the objectives, strategy, execution and measurement plan. And the first step in developing this framework is an in-depth understanding of the customer.
Once a business has some strong customer insights is when they can start developing their Digital Marketing strategy – what are the channels to leverage, how does one target the relevant audience, what is the content strategy and, most importantly, what are the measures of success?
The reason I emphasise the process aspect is because, very often, businesses might not have all the insights, or it might be very expensive and time-consuming exercise to get very accurate insights. What I recommend businesses is that it’s fine to not have all the insights, as long as one has put in place a process to gather insights quickly, translate these into hypotheses, create a plan to test these hypotheses, gather and analyse the data as close to real-time as possible and then make changes to their tactics and strategy based on these insights.
The point I want to emphasise is that there is no ‘magic bullet’ solution when it comes to Digital Marketing. Every business is unique. Customers might be common across multiple businesses, but the mindset they are in when it comes to interacting with brands might be very different across different brands. And, therefore, assuming that what works for someone else should work for you can be a dangerous assumption. It is always best to start from first principles, iterate, learn, tweak, learn some more and so on. And one requires a robust process mechanism to ensure that this happens as a matter of principle.
So do you have a process to do the above?
If you would like some help with setting one up, please do get in touch with me. I will be happy to help!