Digital marketing is a subject that most companies have very little grasp of. We are all told about how powerful it is and business leaders know they must make it happen. The problem is many business owners or leaders know very little about digital marketing. They simply are not a digital leader.

They know they should do it. They see it working for others but they do not know how to make it work for their business. They’ve trIt becomes hard to talk about it or admit. And thus the dirty little secret is born.

The problem is it that for many business owners it is just not a skill that has been developed. Even in many marketing people, unless they have invested time, energy and money into learning it, then it is just too big a subject to casually master. Many companies digital marketing is then run without the skills, commitment and leadership to do it well. This leads to mistakes, expense and a lack of results. More confidence is lost.

Companies back off for fear of getting it wrong again. They see it working for others but for them, it is one big stressful headache. In this state, success is never going to come. So, what do companies need to do to achieve digital marketing and social media success? To get over their dirty little secret?

Businesses that think digital have a strong digital leader

In the CapGemini ‘Digital Advantage Report’ it highlights how digitally successful businesses all have strong a digital leader and a digital culture across the team. This impacts tools, systems and people. It’s not rocket science really. It is about making your company as effective and efficient as possible. That doesn’t solve the problem of how to make it happen though.

If the person at the top does not understand the game that is being played then how can they possibly hope to recruit right and make sure the activity is going in the right direction? Someone who doesn’t like football, can’t manage a successful football team.

It is not acceptable to say “I don’t understand – I’ll leave it to someone else”. As important as it is to understand a balance sheet, the core tenants and benefits of digital marketing need to be understood by business leaders.

And, just because you get an Agency in to do it for you, doesn’t mean you are supporting the business. How do you know if they are even doing a good job? What happens if you want to bring it in-house one day? Or worse, you want to sell your business and these core skills and systems are not present?

You have to get a Digital Leader on board.

A lack of digital marketing skills is hurting your business

Digital strategy, skills and marketing needs commitment at all levels. You have to ensure that your key staff all understand the potential of digital marketing and what it is going to take to make it happen. I like to call these your Digital Champions. Hopefully you have plenty. You may find you have few.

Most people don’t even use Powerpoint, Excel or their own mobile phone properly! Digital marketing is not something you can pick up as you go along. Bizarrely many people responsible for digital marketing are given the job because they just happened to be the Marketing Manager for the past 10 years. Or worse, given social media responsibilities because they are young and seem to spend a lot of time on Twitter.

It would be scary to consider that a Doctor got his job because he liked talking about medicine and was quite good at putting a plaster on. These people are highly trained and get results because they know what they are doing.

Just because someone knows how to do a search on Google does not mean they understand search engine optimisation. Social media is not free and email marketing is not an easy way to send special offers to customers. You have to get it right.

So why is it the expectation that unskilled or junior staff will effectively plan and implement a digital marketing strategy that is aligned with your company’s goals and objectives?

Unless these people are highly motivated to self-learn and continuously develop their digital marketing skills, they will never get the results that are possible. But even then, how long will their development take and what mistakes will they make along the way?

The dangerous downward spiral of not being a digital business

“Employed the wrong people, chosen Agencies that achieved nothing, wasted money on tools and ads. I’m not doing that again!”

If this sounds familiar, it is really dangerous. The blog, social media, new technologies were all introduced with great enthusiasm but because it didn’t work it quietly stops getting used. Some people are relived. Others are confused. It is not positive. It creates a downward momentum.

Anyone in the team who uses social media and wants to be in a business that thinks digital is going to get frustrated and move to a competitor that does too. Industry talent thinks the same and won’t join. It becomes harder to recruit and retain quality staff.

Your prospects, referrals and customers see less of you and more of your competitors online. They lose confidence and you lose sales.

The owners and leaders of the business become more and more stressed about what is happening – particularly as they observe competitors thriving. It is costing too much money though and is a distraction. Instead of evolving and growing more competent, cutbacks are made.

If only they could make the digital marketing work – but they are not going to risk that again. The dirty little secret has now entered a deeper stage of denial.

How to cure your dirty little digital marketing secret

You probably know all the above and I have just made you even more anxious and jumpy. Don’t worry. Companies are waking up to the need to solve this problem which is creating demand. Geeks and techies are creating ever more simple products and services that do amazing things and an increasing number of skilled people are available. Just so long – on both counts – that you pick the right ones.

Strong Digital Marketing LeaderAnd here lies the problem. If you knew how to do that you would have done it already. I am about to give you a rundown of what you need to do. This is not unique and you may have read it before. The question is how do you make it happen? I can help you fix this problem.

In various walks of life, particularly at the higher ends of performance and excellence, people hire specialists. Whether that is a coach, a mentor, a partner, an associate, successful people recognise their strengths and delegate their weakness. This is why I work the way I do and why Live And Social’s services are structured the way they are. It’s about getting the right plan, people and support. I will be your Digital Leader.

So long as you have the drive and commitment to work smarter and be digitally fit then, your business can make the change. I started to detail each and everyone of them but this blog post was getting insanely long. So here is a summary which I shall expand on later..

  • Hire a digital leader – if you don’t have the experience, budget or structure to hire one full time then get a Digital Business Strategist or Digital Coach into start with.
  • Carry out a digital skills audit – find out who you have in your team. You want to identify anyone who already knows the business. You may find they are already using tools and systems to help them in their work
  • Create a digital strategy that is aligned with your business goals and objectives – it might sound crazily obvious but so often people ask why their blog and social media is not working, only to find out what they are doing offers almost nothing of value to their target audience. It needs to drive sales, reduce costs, make staff more effective. It needs to give your business a new buzz.
  • Review your systems and tools – how many do you have? Do they talk to each other? Can you create sensible reports and metrics to assess success? Technology moves so fast. You need to keep up, as that is so much easier than catching up. You may not have the people in place to review those systems which is why you need the Digital Leader on the case.
  • Focus on your customers – digital marketing is really not about clever ads or fancy promotions. It is about giving your target audience exactly what they need to achieve their goals and decide to work with you. When you think of it like this, the goal becomes having really powerful conversations.
  • Create content – aren’t we all sick of being told to create content?! If we could just get on with our work it would be such a relief! The problem is the internet does not work like that, and most people start their buying process online. If you do not have content you are not in the race. Simple. Creating it though is not. Get yourself a clear plan and support to make it happen. Do not outsource your content creation. You are only paying for expertise that is likely less than that of the experts you already employ. Instead outsource your content editing, production and optimisation. The good news is that good content pieces are assets in your business. They are not simply an expense
  • Create powerful marketing systems – your website and online activity should be thought of as a member of your team. Get it right and they will work 24hrs a day, 365 days a year, converting visitors into leads, and leads into customers. Using online advertising, leveraging your content and engaging with your online audience these systems become money machines. I’m not saying it is simple but this is how you realise the true power of digital marketing and being a digital business.
  • Train and Incentivise your team – a digital advantage is not created just in the marketing team. You need people across the business supporting it. Whether that is writing a blog post or championing a new project management team, everyone needs to be involved. The best way to make this happen is consistent training, assessment and of course, incentives.
  • Measure and evolve – the true power of digital marketing is in the reporting. In simple Inbound Marketing terms, give someone a good enough reason to give you their contact details and you can track that person through your site, monitoring what they look at and for how long, you can then inform your sales team and get them to close the deal. The more you know about one customer, the more you can use to win others. The Business Information you collect becomes a powerful competitive advantage. You can track basically everything and then use this to make business decisions. Get it right and it’s like putting your business on turbo power.

To know and not to do, is not to know

The challenge for any business leader is no different at the end of this blog post than at the start. You need time, skills and resource to make digital marketing work in a growing business. I can’t say it any more simply than this. Be the leader that leads and delegates effectively. Get a Digital Leader in your business. Bring the right skills into your business. Get the right tools and use them right. Then get the right specialist support so your people can do what they need to do, whilst still focusing on the business. This is how you turn your digital marketing stress – your dirty little secret – into digital business success.