This January I have spent a great deal of time networking and meeting new and familiar faces within my digital and marketing community whilst I work to raise their awareness of who I am and what my expertise are. As a result of these conversations I have come to realise that there is a real divide surrounding the question, ‘Why are businesses implementing digital technologies and marketing strategies?’ In one camp I find that many businesses simply feel that they must have a digital campaign in order to keep up, they feel that they simply have to blog and/or tweet because everyone else does! In the other camp, where I reside are those who realise that like all good marketing campaigns success is measured in deliverables, ‘Can I see a real benefit to my business that has been created as a direct result of this activity?’
It seems obvious to me that if a business is going to invest money, or even just time planning, implementing and delivering a digital campaign it should be clear at the outset why they are embarking on the activity and what they hope to achieve from it. Real returns on investment can be created if the aims of your campaign are closely linked to the overall objectives of your business. However it is important to consider the kind of business you have and tailor your ambitions accordingly. For example large household brands such as Dell may use digital technologies such as Twitter to foster relationships with large communities of potential customers, bolstering brand awareness and increasing sales, but how can we translate this kind of success to a smaller business?
I heard a great anecdote at Manchester Social Media Surgery (http://socialmediamanchester.net/group/socialmediasurgery) a couple of weeks ago, where the panel/audience discussion turned to the use of social media in political campaigns. It seems that on the face of things Social Media was deemed essential to the party political campaigns that were in full swing during the run up to the general election, but how did these activities really affect the results of the vote? From the discussion held during the Manchester Surgery I gleaned that whilst on the surface it appeared that these political digital campaigns didn’t really appear to have any tangible impact, i.e. Twitter doesn’t appear to have persuaded anyone to change their voting allegiance! However, success can be measured where the campaigns were more focused in their objectives. As I understand it political parties have a wealth of information available at their fingertips and this enables them to assess the likely political preference of any voting constituency based on their demographics, i.e. average household income, what car they drive, number of kids etc, etc. However not all of these potential voters will take the time to visit their poling station on Election Day. The digital campaigns that were aimed at getting those voters out of the house and into the polling station really did appear to work. Using social media to foster relationships with the voting community and engaging with them prior to the election placed the campaigner in a position of trust and authority with their constituents, which could then be leveraged to persuade those individuals to make the effort to place their vote on the day.
In conclusion the key to any digital technology implemented is that it deliver tangible returns on investment. When working with businesses I find that it is imperative to understand their overall business objectives and then agree with them the specific aims for the current project. One of the most important parts of this client discovery process is to work with them to agree how the success of the project will be measured against the aims set and what results would be deemed a sucess. It is important to set realistic targets and then, if at all possible exceed these expectations! This approach to implementing digital campaigns with your clients should help you to build ongoing, effective and fruitful relationships with plenty of return business. :-)
I would be interested to hear your thoughts and how you implement digital campaigns, please feel free to post your comments here, or alternatively you can ask me in person - I will be on the panel at next months Social Media Surgery in Manchester on the 8th Feb, see you there!?