November 09, 2009 - Comments Off on Internet marketing: A leap of faith or a bridge too far?

Internet marketing: A leap of faith or a bridge too far?

… or your most efficient and effective route to market??

As an independent business advisor and also Chair at Bloom I get a privileged ‘both sides’ perspective of the use and potential of the Internet. For many enterprises it still remains a black art/hole and I am truly mystified sometimes by the lack of understanding and ‘dabbling’ client side about the use, dynamics and potential of the internet as a major route to market and business development tool for increasing market share. For me, I guess, properly embracing the Internet boils down to the following issues:

 

a) Developing the confidence to overcome the fear of change often associated with engagement with the Internet

b) Understanding that engaging with the Internet is a dynamic domain and requires commitment, change and learning

c) Appreciation of the ‘click to capture’ inter-dependence of web design, development and SEO/PPC campaigns and the need to get them all right in an appropriate balance (together with traditional marketing campaigns)

d) Appreciating that SEO is a war with your competition and professional strategic and ‘real-time’ tactical campaign management is vital for a sustainable ‘win’.

e) Appreciating the emergence of social media ‘intangibles’ on reputation and brand management and hence your future business development

f) Appreciating that technology and techniques are often leading edge and are changing rapidly; agencies need to be driving this leading edge and the partners need to be flexible in adapting to this change

g) Appreciating that when the dynamic works, the increased traffic must be supported by internal ‘front office’ capacity to convert on line demand

h) Performance analytics from digital ‘pull’ campaigns must be reported in a format that creates tangible feedback for client understanding, response (decision making) and confidence

i) Too many ‘garage’ operators confusing the ‘picture’ and debasing the potential and real RoI for such investment.

However, the situation is changing fast with the Internet now beginning to dominate client marketing spend. The challenge is therefore now not one of ‘why or should we spend’ but ‘what and where we spend’. Working in partnership with a professional agency that understands the dynamics of the whole picture and assists with your decision making is therefore the only way to survive and build sustainability.

‘Dabbling’ is therefore no longer an option as both agency and client must embrace their partnership with professionalism and commitment in a win – win venture. Particularly now when the opportunity exists to invest in grabbing market share from hesitant competitors.

To overcome these obstacles and embrace the challenge and opportunities presented by the internet, my suggested ‘top 10 tips’ for a client-side approach to this engagement are as follows:

1. Have a clearly defined strategic marketing plan which includes the use of the Internet as a major (new?) route to market. This must clearly state your market position objectives, brand value statements and strategic objectives.

2. Develop a balanced traditional and digital sales and marketing plan with appropriately balanced budget allocation

3. Allocate a competent senior digital campaign champion to avoid conflict of interest or internal power struggles

4. Research prospective agencies online before requesting a pitch. In my experience, too often time and effort is wasted on the pitch process and confusion reigns. Better to get your ‘ideal’ agency profile defined, do your back-ground research properly and invite 1 or 2 in to pitch. Then move to point 5 et al. …. Be demanding but open minded!

5. Select and engage with a professional agency as a business partner based upon:
a. All round capability on creative, technical, strategic and commercial skills for Web Design & Development, Internet Marketing and Statistical Reporting

b. Provenance, client testimonials and professionalism

c. Ability & willingness to provide an unfair share of mind to your campaign

d. Confidence to project ideas and add value to your decision making process

e. Flexibility to work with existing professional partners

f. Chemistry & culture

g. RoI …. NOT cost! …. You want to WIN not simply save money.

6. Establish the professional rules of engagement and reporting format and process in conjunction with your selected partner

7. Establish both campaign objectives and internal resources to manage anticipated increased demand

8. Be prepared for and maintain flexibility for change

9. Depending upon your revenue and growth ambitions, be prepared to negotiate a payment on results SEO fee with your agency

10. Be prepared to engage your agency as part of your decision making forum with expert input on digital techniques and be aggressive and determined for a win -win