Michael Nelson
November 15, 2013

Digital Marketing: Pandora’s Box, Panacea or Global Equalizer?

Digital marketing can either make or break a small business.  If you do it well, you’re rewarded with a reliable and growing stream of customers.  If you do it poorly, you can kill your brand or your business with wasted time and blown budgets. How do you give your business the best chance to be on the successful side of the equation?

[pullquote]In this article and subsequent articles in this series, I’ll cover how to plan and execute successful digital marketing campaigns.[/pullquote]

Marketing is about generating sales for your business.  That is and should be the purpose of marketing regardless of whether you are building your brand or specifically trying to grow your revenue.  That seems simple enough.  But, digital marketing muddies the waters.  I built my first website and wrote my first newsletter in 1997.  From that time until now the digital marketing environment has changed repeatedly.

Fortunately for all of us, the days of flashing banners, black hat domination, persistent pop ups, etc. are going the way of the dinosaurs.  Digital marketing is/has transitioned to emphasize value delivery and long-term relationship building that supports sustained business growth.

But now, we have inbound marketing, attraction marketing, email marketing, influence marketing, network marketing, content marketing, outbound marketing, affiliate marketing and so on.  So how do we pick one?  Especially if we are small business owners and not marketing experts.  For me, the most important word in those phrases is “marketing.”  It’s the root of what we’re trying to do.  The types of marketing, just as digital marketing itself is, are simply ways to go about achieving the desired results.  To pick a method, we must first establish our desired outcome.

[pullquote]”How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?”[/pullquote]

Roger Waters torturously written words hit the nail on the head regarding digital marketing.  How can you get the rewards if you haven’t done the work necessary to lay the foundations of success?  The foundation of marketing success begins with setting a goal and knowing what you want to achieve.  As Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat says “if you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will get you there.”  If you charge ahead with digital marketing without a clear goal and way to measure your progress, then it doesn’t matter which marketing method you select.  Your results will be akin to gambling returns and the house always wins in the long run.
small business achievement flow
This diagram illustrates a simple planning process that works well in a small business environment.  It is quick to work through, stays current and improves results.  Begin with setting the theme for your campaign.  Your theme will be high level and visionary in nature.  You then create three (no more) goals that if reached will propel you towards your goal.  These goals need to be SMART.  Check the acronym in the diagram and you’ll notice that SMART goals are ones that you can act upon and measure progress towards.

Now you plan.  How will you reach your goals, what needs to be done, what level of resource will be committed to each action and so on.  This can be as simple as a list of items that you check off or as detailed as necessary.  Once you have your plan completed, execute the steps in the plan while checking the results regularly.  You make updates to the plan based upon your results and fine tune your efforts so you continuously improve, which helps you save time and money on your way towards reaching your goals.

The next article will address creating marketing messages, Circumstance Marketing, and crafting those messages for the digital world.  It’s at this point in the process that we’ll begin to select the type of marketing that will help reach our goals and will be built into our plans.  Stay tuned…

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Michael Nelson

Michael Nelson is a small business coach and circumstance marketing innovator who lives in DC with his lovely wife and three insane boys. Michael Nelson ”The Cogent Coach” Follow me on:  Twitter / Facebook /  LinkedIn / Google+