Since graduating with a business degree with a primary focus on Marketing (University of Bradford School of Management, BSc.Hons 1992 + Chartered Institute of Marketing post-grad diploma) this is the one discipline I have come back to time and again. Key areas of focus have included:
CIM (The Chartered Institute of Marketing) offers the following definition for marketing:
“ The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”
From my early role as a member of the startup team at GeneMark to my most recent one at BlessingWhite, I have helped create the business case for many companies, ventures and large scale investments. A marketing strategy is an essential component of any business plan, including:
- SWOT analysis
- “7Ps” study
- Market research
- Financial analysis, budgeting, Hi-Med-Low forecasting
- Market segmentation
- Pricing strategy etc.
Digital marketing strategy and execution
A solid and clear strategy is a pre-requisite of any digital marketing strategy. This may sound obvious, but many companies are rushing to establish a digital capability and social media presence, but lack clear goals, metrics or an integrated plan on how the digital efforts will hand off to sales. Once the goals and objectives of a digital strategy are established, it takes a metrics driven approach to ensure the effort invested is providing the results the company expects.
A key challenge in digital marketing — especially in social media — is to confuse activity with productivity. Many companies rejoice at growing followers, seeing lots of click-through and people sharing company content on various channels. But to gauge the impact of digital marketing efforts, we need to did deeper with some key questions as not all social media activity carries equal value:
- Is our digital marketing reaching the right audience, i.e. decision makers at targeted companies?
- Do we have a strong call to action and are we seeing people progressing towards a meaningful interaction with our firm (ultimately, a sale, a job application or a meaningful building of the client relationship)?
- Is the return justified in terms of the resources invested (time, money)? Are there other channels that might yield a higher return?
E-commerce is a distinct discipline in digital marketing and sales. It takes a specific blend of technical skills and promotional know-how to construct an effective sales channel and engage either a business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) audience. E-commerce in the B2B world is equally about making the transaction “friction-less” while dealing with all of the complexities of geography/currencies, global purchasing agreements, promotional pricing, regulations, volume discounts and purchasing authority on the client side.GE Healthcare e-Commerce channels (including the more B2C-like lab consumables website and the B2B e-trading integration) was a tremendous experience and a steep learning curve!Building the
Building the “Marketing Engine”
All this said, strategies evolve. Alongside the process of defining strategy, companies need to build and continuously maintain and enhance a solid marketing engine. Most elements of the “engine” will be digital in their nature. Today’s marketing platform is not made of a single solution, but rather by a flexible ecosystem of systems and processes. As these tools evolve rapidly, the team has to stay nimble, trying out new ideas and approaches and maintaining the “engine” on a daily basis.
The typical components of today’s engine will include:
- A best-of-breed sales automation platform (or CRM) such as Salesforce, Oracle CRM on demand, MSCRM, HubSpot, pipedrive etc.
- An engaging Website, with built in SEO tools and web traffic analysis capabilities – despite the advent of social media a core website remains the central hub of a company’s public facing marketing efforts and often serves as the “system of record” for much of the company’s information.
- An integrated Webcasting platform WebEx, ON24, GoToWebinar, Adobe Connect or one of the other many other providers.
- A video hosting tool such as YouTube (for exposure), but preferably a professional hosting outfit such as Vimeo, Wistia or DailyMotion.
- A selection of social media channels (these should be hand picked and prioritized based on the audience demographics – meet your decision makers where they hang out). Top channels include LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instragram, Google+, snapchat, pintrest.
- Effective social media management requires back end tools to manage all messages and deploy across platforms. Sharing admin tools such as AddThis, Tweetdeck should be part of your ecosystem. Tracking progress with Klout, Kred and PeerIndex should also be on the radar.
- Internal social media platforms (such as chatter or Yammer) and an employee advocacy platforms Socciable may also be great additions to the engine.