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Marketing In A Digital World: 5 Best Practices To Balance Market Differentiation With Common Sense

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Marketing in a Digital World
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it."  -- Warren Buffet                 

Companies today will do just about anything to stand apart from the competition. That fact, coupled with new technologies that enable businesses to reach out to large audiences with the mere touch of a button, presents both opportunity and risk.

With today’s digital marketing tools, businesses can roll out new ideas and offerings faster than ever before. Similar to a high-powered luxury car, these technologies supply the speed and power needed to drive sales and brand awareness. Yet, their ability to support almost instant acceleration requires careful management. The goal is to elevate your brand while ensuring that your company’s reputation doesn’t crash and burn in the process.

Given the sheer number of commercial solicitations that are now delivered online, no doubt you’ve seen at least one email, advertisement or other marketing tactic that caused you to raise an eyebrow and question its approach. While it’s relatively easy to send out digital campaigns, it’s just as easy to lose sight of common sense in the rush to differentiate.

You would never put someone behind the wheel of a high-powered vehicle without proper training, safety features and navigation in place. Modern marketing is no different. To stay the ahead of the competition and in the good graces of your customers, the following best practices are essential to your digital marketing strategy:

  1. Build in checks & balances. Having the proper organizational structure and internal processes in place is key to the oversight of digital campaigns. Find the balance between the need for review and micro-management, which can bring both creativity and delivery to a halt. Clearly define who is authorized to publish and speak on your company’s behalf. Make sure those individuals have at least one editor who reviews the work before it’s published. If it’s a major initiative, bounce ideas off of key stakeholders in other departments, valued customers or targeted focus groups to expand the range of feedback.
  2. Do a ‘blush’ check. Apply the 3-party test – If you wouldn’t feel comfortable sending the materials to your CEO, neighbor or grandmother with your name on it, it probably needs additional revisions. Always screen campaigns with these questions in mind: “Is this a true representation of our brand? Is this what our brand aspires to?”
  3. Take a world view. With today’s technologies, there are no boundaries. It’s just as easy to send something across the street as it is around the world. In the creation of any campaign, always think outside of your geographic and cultural boundaries. Be sensitive to how certain words or images may be interpreted by others.
  4. Dig past the numbers. Don’t evaluate effectiveness based solely on the numbers. What’s behind those top open rates and social sharing metrics? Understand the ‘why’ behind the sharing. Engagement metrics are helpful, but only if the results are contributing to what you were trying to achieve. What was the original goal, and are the behaviors and emotional responses what you hoped for with regard to that goal?
  5. Take corrective action. If you do send out something that strikes a sour note, follow up immediately to acknowledge, apologize and remedy the situation. A bad experience can be turned around with the right response, but timing is key. Beyond that, learn from your mistakes. Revisit your processes and adjust them accordingly.

Digital marketing tools give companies the power to reach out to targeted audiences in new and unique ways. Taking creative risks is one way to stand apart from the competition, and should be encouraged. But be sure to build in proper controls, along with a dose of common sense, to get the greatest return on your efforts.

Mark Roberts ShoreTel Chief Marketing Officer Mark Roberts has more than 20 years of technology sales, marketing and product management experience. As ShoreTel’s CMO, he leads the company’s marketing strategy, product marketing, demand generation, branding and external communications efforts.