Digital Marketing Transformation - Part 1
Digital Transformation is when SMEs and Enterprises recognise the need to change in order to better engage with their customers and staff. But what about marketing?
The term “Digital Transformation” is recognised in one form or another by most businesses. It normally applies to larger SMEs and Enterprises and means the directors have recognised the need to digitally re-align their business processes to become more efficient and ultimately more profitable.
Personally I believe there should always be a tangible return on investment for any change in a business, and I suspect many of you would agree. However, many of the transformation gurus point out that digital transformation shouldn't be all about the money - it should be about facilitating a way of functioning within a work environment that will ultimately pay dividends for both customers and employees.
In a broad sense, going “Digital” is a desire to use technology and software at important touch-points to deliver a seamless and effortless experience to its users. And by users, I mean customers, prospects and employees.
However, what does it mean when it comes to marketing transformation?
If anyone in your business has significant interaction with customers and prospects, then it is most certainly your marketing department who can claim the top spot. So how does Digital Transformation impact marketing?
Book Recommendations (Link to Amazon):
Everyone in B2B wants Marketing Perfection
On the one hand every marketer is looking to achieve perfection when it comes to strategies and a return on marketing investment (ROMI). That way (a) they can stay employed and (b) they have something that stands out on their CV if they do decide to change companies.
On the other hand B2B business owners would like everything to go viral so it minimises their costs and gives them the exposure they need. However, typically viral marketing is the preserve of the B2C company, who either has deep pockets or is willing to play the long game. So what about B2Bs? How can they “up the ante”?
If we’re realigning our businesses to become more efficient and profitable, how should marketing dovetail with Digital Transformation? Read on…
The Dotcom Boom Bust
The Dot Com boom-bust changed our understanding of e-commerce and transformed the internet from being a 'broadcast' medium to a personal 'one-to-one' medium. And so 'Content is King' became the motto. The trouble was, most businesses were too impatient to care about content and simply wanted their salespeople to get in front of prospects asap!
And it’s not that anyone’s missed the boat either, as the whole content thing has now evolved to 'Context is King'. This means that now we need to consider who we're dealing with and have a whole new empathic understanding of our prospects/customers.
If a business wants to appear relevant, they’ve got to get real. And by “real” I mean dropping the stock photos, dropping the corporate speak, and genuinely being interested and aligned with the people they’re selling to. Businesses must ‘put on’ the psyche of the people they’re selling to and literally ‘become them!
At first glance, a company can look like it’s got everything sorted, i.e. a Marketing Director, Demand Gen Team, Product & Field Marketers, Copywriters, a Web Dev Team and so on. They can have all the tech, i.e. CRM, Marketing Automation and all the apps, only to end up looking like the Morecombe & Wise Show sketch with Andre Previn – playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order.
But what about soul?
If you simply present generic content with generic images with generic copy, you simply become a generic ‘also-ran’ and ultimately invisible to your audience. No amount of Marketing SaaS will change it. You’ll still get a few deals, but they’ll probably happen because of a salesman’s efforts and his/her relationship with the prospect, rather than anything to do with the marketing department.
But it is still about both internal and external customers. If you have a generic attitude towards generating new business, you’ve probably got the same attitude towards your employees.
Terminology like bring-your-own-device (BYOD) may not have passed you by, especially as it can mean reducing hardware and upgrade costs. However the reality is, that everyone in the Western world is connected to their smartphones and various other devices. It is, therefore, our responsibility to blend a method of working with the digital elements that affect the lives of customers and employees alike.
So where do you start?
Looking at the strategies and approach for Account Based Marketing (ABM) is a good place to start. However, you might be thinking "ABM is for large sales companies selling to other large companies, right?" Wrong! It’s the principles of ABM you need to look at, no matter how big or small you are:
“ABM is team selling aligned with understanding the personas, behaviour and influences of the multiple decision-makers in an organisation…”
This may seem like too much work, but we all have a choice – “Do what we’ve always done and we’ll get what we’ve always got!” This strategy is not simply for external customers, it’s also for internal customers, i.e. employees. No matter what we’re doing, we must ensure relevance for everyone connected to us and therefore deliver something meaningful and of value – and that value can only be determined by what it means to the recipient.
We have to get under the skin of those we want to sell to (or employ) or to coin another phrase "to walk a mile in their shoes”. It’s essential to know what keeps them up at night, what affects their day-to-day flow of work, what their genuine pain points are and all the while presenting an honest and transparent persona and ‘tone-of-voice’ for our businesses. It’s no good employing a graduate to do the copywriting for a blog when they have no idea who they’re writing for and when they have absolutely no experience of the suspects’/prospects’/customers’ business.
Yes, it will cost time and money to take this approach, but there’s always a trade-off, like perhaps reducing the sales teams! If the face-to-face salespeople account for approximately one sixth of the new business activity, then it makes sense to ‘redeploy’ resources and make sure that everyone is ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ and there is an equitable balance in activity.
Know who you are selling to?
Take a look at the positions below. They all have different drivers for doing the jobs they do, so it makes sense to speak to them differently, for example:
- Managing Directors; They own the business and look for profitability for themselves and for shareholders
- CTO/CMO/CIO/COO; They’re employed and want to keep their jobs. They’re also major influencers in the overall process
- Managers; As above, but quite happy that they’ve been included in the discussion
- Executive Assistants; They’re doing as they’re told and are looking for information only
In simple terms, whatever decision the above people make, they’re thinking “will this decision take me closer to promotion and a ‘gold star’ or will it bring me closer to getting fired?" It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘what’s in it for me (WIIFM)'
If you’re going to get inside the head of your prospects, you need to be communicating with them directly and not adopting a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Trying to do so simply does not make sense. Of course, there can and will be some crossover, but the narrower you make your messaging, the more targeted you will be in the eyes of your prospects.
Whilst Digital Transformation projects normally lean towards Agile’s Lean and Six Sigma methodologies, marketing most certainly lends itself to Kanban.
The reason this is relevant is that there are so many activities that need to be addressed. It makes sense, therefore, to adopt a management strategy and methodology that is logical, considering the multiple tasks required versus the typical number of staff available. It is especially useful when working on marketing automation strategies.
Digital Transformation is about servicing both internal and external customers and exceeding their expectations. How are you doing in this space? Take a look at the next article in this series via the link below.
About the Author
Nigel is the Founder & Managing Director of salesXchange and has been helping businesses for over 25 years to develop their marketing, technologies and infrastructure to generate more profits, more efficiently. His recent book "Integrate! The Essential Business Technology & Marketing Handbook" can be downloaded from Amazon.