Strategic Digital Marketing – Why doing things right isn’t the same as doing the right things

photo-1470225620780-dba8ba36b7-1For small businesses, digital marketing has a seductive draw. Its ability to reach thousands, if not millions, of people for a seemingly low price is indeed an excellent opportunity for businesses on a tight budget. However, not all digital marketing initiatives are made equal. What works for one business does not necessarily translate into success for everyone else. So how do you know which initiatives would be the best use of your resources?

The trick is prioritizing the right things, and not doing things right

Abraham Maslow famously once said,  ‘the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail’. Being able to do something well does not mean that it is the right solution for everything. And thus, many people take the bottom-up approach, considering ‘what are things I do well and how’ before ‘how can I apply it to the business’. Instead, flipping this around gives you a more strategic approach.

First thinking through the things that would matter for the business ensures you are constrained to the things that would provide positive value. Next, you should rank them in order of (estimated) expected value of each activity. Now, you can go down the list of activities to see which ones you do well and undertake those. This approach ensures you are optimizing for activities at least have a good chance of bringing in the most returns for your investment.

How it applies to digital marketing for small businesses

When it comes to digital marketing this approach is absolutely relevant. Just like how a local coffee shop might be better off focusing on social media and local listings as compared to taking a lead generation campaign. Sure, nurturing leads could theoretically work, but is far from the lowest hanging fruit. For a start, you could look at how your business is generated, and what the barriers to generating more business are. Know your product is great, but customer loyalty is lacking? A social media campaign might be the way to go.  Or are there too many competing options? You may want to cut through the clutter on the local listings sites like Yelp with ads.

It still means you’ve got to do it right

Just doing the right things, however, is no guarantee that it would be a smashing success. You’ll still have to put in the hard work. After all, in the Art of War, Sun Tzu famously wrote “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before the defeat”.

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