Are you missing a vital link?

It is no surprise that the very first question on my 5 Questions is also the most important one. The question is ‘How do your digital marketing activities align to your business strategy and sales process?’.

This is often a fundamental missing link that almost always results in the results you achieve being way off the mark of what you wanted or even needed. As I work with CEOs and marketing teams, what I see is a different language being used. For the CEO, the key words are Profit, Financials, Value, Strategy, Objectives etc. whereas the marketing people talk Engagement, Reach, Clicks, Spend, Ranks, Clickthrough Rates and so on.

Both sides know ‘their role’. However, it is also clear that both sides fail to understand the other. I use the word ‘sides’ deliberately as this is often what it feels like. ‘My CEO doesn’t get what we do’ or ‘The marketing team just don’t get what we need in the business’. Although the work I do is around improving digital marketing results, the real work is in communication. So, what do I mean?

In order for your marketing team (internal or outsourced) to really understand what you need, you must communicate it correctly with them. Notice, not ‘to’ them. This process requires some very specific steps;

  1. Get really clear about your strategic objectives
  2. Present them to your digital marketers in language they will understand
  3. Discuss their understanding of what you need
  4. Listen to them on what they will need to deliver the results you expect
  5. Agree together on what will take place and how to measure this

You would be surprised how often either a business doesn’t have very specific clear objectives or if they have, they have never heard those objectives spoken back to them by the marketing team in the marketing team’s own language. It isn’t until the last part has been done that you can truly say your digital marketers understand what you need.

The next failing of a CEO or business owner (not you I am sure!) is deciding for the digital marketers what budget they will be given to achieve the goals you have set. You can only dictate one. Is it budget or outcomes? Simply demanding certain outcomes for certain inputs won’t make them happen and you certainly won’t get ownership or buy-in that way. However, if this is a discussion, your digital marketers will buy into the results expected. They will have ownership and responsibility for the results which is what you ideally want.

Once your marketers tell you they will achieve ‘x’ for the budget of ‘y’, they own that responsibility. If the numbers don’t stack up, that is fine. You don’t do whatever it is that doesn’t stack up. At least you know early that things are not going to work.

Asking ‘How do our digital marketing activities line up to our business objectives and sales process’ helps to focus your mind and theirs. It is probably the first time your digital marketers have had to think about how their work is contributing to a bigger thing. This could well shift the focus of what is done with your digital marketing budget.

Before asking that question, it is perfectly feasible for the digital marketers to generate great outcomes such as increases in search rankings, follower growth, more time spent on your website by users etc. These in themselves are all great results. Whether they are great outcomes for your business though is whether they are aligned to your business objectives and that could be very different.

If you are looking to build long-term value around your brand rather than cash in quickly on immediate sales, you may have more focus on awareness, online reputation etc. If you don’t see yourself as building a long term business or brand and have a short term opportunity to hit a market, then all of that brand building will be worthless to you. we talk about that more in my 2nd Question.

If you need to reach 50 new customers per quarter to maintain a buyer discount rate that makes your offering more viable or even remain a ‘partner’ or ‘re-seller’ status, then cost of acquisition may be less crucial and number of sales may be vital. Conversely if you have no pressure to sell a certain number of units, but your initial profitability is low (with a high longer term value), then cost of acquisition may be key to staying in business.

Your specific scenario will be unique, but hopefully the last couple of paragraphs have given a couple of examples as to why this is so important. If you send someone off in the wrong direction, they could do an awesome job, but it’s still not helping!

Are you in a position where you know you should have a clear set of objectives that are tangible and can be tied into with things like digital marketing, but you haven’t got them yet? Or, are you clear as to your objectives but not sure how to work with your digital team and bridge the gap? I would like to help you to implement my 5 Questions into your organisation. Just complete the form below…

 

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