Earlier this week I attended my industry’s leading event, the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting. At this conference, the senior vice president of global retail CRM and brand marketing of Sony Corporation of America, Susan Jurevics, drove home the point that in this digital and social media age, we are all now digital marketers.
She didn't just mean people in the industry—people like me, who do marketing for a living. In truth, every other area of a company—from product development to human resources to planning and logistics—needs to think about and understand digital marketing. Because people at any position in a company, in any kind of industry, can influence that company's presence and brand impression.
So what does this mean to a fast-growing, Inc.-like company? And what can you do to be better prepared for this kind of future?
1. Act Like a Student
These are accelerated times, and they are not slowing down. The best marketers act like perpetual students: They seek new information, stay current with new technologies and trends and keenly observe the world around them. Don’t expect to be a good marketer by living in a cave and conducting business as usual: You will fail, and you bring your company down along with you.
2. Push Your Marketing Teams
In order to avoid the status quo, you must constantly seek to innovate, change and improve—and you should be expecting your marketing teams (both in-house staff and partners) to do the same. Challenge them to bring you new ideas that are both relevant and rational—but also encourage them to push back when you present inappropriate or poorly justified ones.
I’m all for long-term third-party relationships, but if you don’t think your current vendors can step it up, now’s the time to be looking elsewhere.
3. Look for Complementary Partnerships
It’s nearly impossible to do it all these days or to innovate fast enough. In order to take fast and full advantage of new marketing opportunities and technologies, take a look around at businesses that complement your own, and see if or how you can work together. Even competitors can cooperate in ways that advance both companies at the same time.
4. Develop & Implement a Social Media Policy
If you don’t think your employees are using social media on company time, you’re fooling yourself. Since it’s likely to happen, better to manage their use and protect the company by developing and deploying a sound social media policy.
The policy should address things like when and how employees can use social media, what they can and cannot share about the company, and the consequences if they violate the policy.
Need guidance? Check out Intel's very thorough and publicly accessible social media policy.
5. Proceed With Caution
Just because there are so many rapid advancements in marketing tactics and technology—mobile, video, social, gaming data collection (and management and analysis), artificial intelligence, and augmented reality, just to name a few—doesn't mean you should be pursuing them all ... or that all are appropriate for your business. Many of these endeavors require large investments of dollars or time (or both).
In becoming the “everyman digital marketer,” you have to balance speed of adoption with what’s best for your business. Those who like to take risks also have to be willing to make a few mistakes along the way. But those who do nothing will get left in the dust. Either way, it’s bound to be a wild ride!