With 2014 now firmly underway, there is no doubt that digital and social media along with mobile technologies remain at the top of the agenda of many marketing leaders. They are seen as critical paths for expanding their addressable market reach and growing the business.
While there is no doubt that digital marketing tools can boost the public awareness of a company and of its offers, while offering clients a personalized and interactive way of engaging with their brands, to achieve measurable business results, digital tools must be part of a company’s broader, well-thought out marketing strategy. Otherwise, it’s like spending money to generate more noise in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Successful companies offer real value to their clients
To be successful, any company must first have a product and service offering real value to its clients. This value may take the form of greater convenience and security (e.g. a file backup and sharing service), enhanced work productivity (e.g. a group collaboration tools), personal entertainment (e.g. a music streaming service) or new work capabilities (e.g. reliable, high-speed access to broadband network).
Companies whose offers lack clear-cut, field-proven value in view of other market alternatives (think Netbooks vs. tablets) will find it difficult to generate value for their business, in the way of sales, profit and customer equity over the long-term. In this case they’d be better off revisiting their client propositions to make them more compelling to customers.
Digital channels are the latest way for connecting with clients
With a proven customer value proposition in hand, today’s companies have an increasing number of channels to chose from for getting to market. However, it’s important to note that each particular channel is better suited for some purposes than others. Before a business or marketing leader invests in a range of digital channels, they should figure out what they really want to achieve. Do they want to boost awareness of their firm or offerings? Are they hoping to identify potential clients in order to generate additional sales? Do they want to improve the experiences for their existing customers? Depending on their exact business goals, a company’s marketing leader may chose a set of channels including digital – online, social media or mobile – and traditional – print ads, call centre or physical stores – in order to deliver the value their clients expect.
The right channel mix is driven primarily by matching channels to customers’ behaviour
Today’s firms have an increasing number of channels to choose from. Ultimately, when it comes to finding the right mix what matters most is having a deep understanding of their customer behaviour and expectations when it comes to dealing with their company. In particular, in a B2B setting this means understanding the group of people involved in the B2B buying decision, the different stages in their decision-making process and what they each expect when doing business with a company? For example, while learning about a 3D printer can be done using online material, a prospective business buyer may require a live demonstration and an interactive discussion with a commercial representative on the possible leasing options, in order to make a decision. In addition, their company’s operations or technical staff may expect initial assistance for learning to use and maintain the device, as well periodic advice in maximizing its utility throughout its lifetime. Such value-added activities may be achieved using a combination of live demonstrations, online tutorials, remote access to experts and sporadic, on-site visits from consultants.
In the end each company must develop the right channel mix – combining both digital and traditional channels – considering their target customers’ expectations over their full life-cycle against the associated costs of serving those needs, within the context of its strategy, channel partners and competitive environment.
Companies that achieve the right mix will be able to deliver real value to customers, while profitably growing their business and generating increased client equity.
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