Last Thursday night I had the opportunity to participate in a digital marketing panel discussion at a Seattle University MBA class with one of our clients, Susan Curhan. It was a very cool opportunity to collaborate with her in a way we don't usually get to in our day-to-day work.
We had a great conversation with the MBA candidates. In fact, we found ourselves running out of time because there was so much to talk about. You know marketers, we like to talk.
Here are some of the key themes that came out of our audience.
Digital Marketing Is Still All About Your Audience
At the beginning of the conversation, Susan made the brilliant point that the core concepts in marketing are still the same as they were 30 years ago. Marketing is still all about understanding your audience and figuring out how to connect with them. Plain and simple.
Digital marketing provides so many options to get up and running quickly that often we forget about who our audience is and what they care about. Now, this is especially ironic because many of the tools we use today allow for incredible targeting. If you don't know who your audience is, targeting won't help you much.
Bottom line: technology changes at the speed of light. As a marketer it's your job to try and keep up. But it's also smart to double down on the basics. If you understand your audience you'll still have a solid foundation as a marketer, even if every existing channel disappeared tomorrow.
Getting Started Is Difficult, Don't Do Everything At Once
One of the most common questions was how to get started with digital marketing. Essentially, the dearth of options and channels make it difficult to choose what to focus on. There's tremendous pressure to do everything.
My advice was to break down your digital marketing into four areas:
- Owned (website, blog, etc.)
- Earned (social mentions, pr, etc.)
- Paid (digital media)
Start by choosing one thing to do in each area. Then, when you've mastered those tactics, layer some more on. All the time think about how the tactics work together.
Here's what it might look like to get started:
- Owned - creating an email signup motivated by some sort of valuable incentive (discount, white paper, etc.)
- Earned - focusing on starting conversations with people on social media each day
- Email - sending a monthly email newsletter
- Paid - buying your name on Google to ensure you're always near the top of the page when someone searches for you.
When you break it down this way it doesn't seem too overwhelming, and once you add a few layers, you're doing quite a bit.
There Usually Isn't A One Size Fits All Answer
One of the MBA candidates owned a pilates studio. She asked the question about what the right strategy was for featuring pricing on her website. All three of us on the panel had a different answer. All three of us were right.
That's the thing about marketing. There are often multiple right answers to a problem. And the beautiful thing about digital is you can try one approach and then easily test another approach against it.