Digital marketing is changing fundamental business practices. Yet perception of these changes is not always accurate. The digital communication era clearly shows how participation and success in digital communication is a critical success factor. But do CxOs really grasp key factors in digital business? Clear understanding of starting efforts (writing, publishing, networking, the work itself), initial results (impressions, leads, sales, influence) and the impact on the people and organization (learning, skills, practice) is a good place to start. In the past, business leaders considered this knowledge “theory” or “academic” background. University students learned (and drilled) marketing concepts, they didn’t actually practiced business communication (i.e. through case studies). That was the pre-digital era. Unfortunately we don’t have enough theory and academic tools yet, so digital marketing theory ends up in blogs and social media blurbs (essentially headlines without details). This means, We need to learn on the job and from non-academic sources. My long read posts fill a gap in learning the concepts (theory).
Full-Stack Marketing* Starting Efforts
Starting anything new and succeeding depends on personal ability. This individual trait is true for people and companies. There are many guides, books and blogs on how to start. From seeing many people start and succeed, the most critical factor seem to be simply doing it and continuing. My experience (over 20 years) specific to digital business (also technology work) can be summed up by:
- Starting out even in blogging (writing & publishing) can take days or weeks or months.
- Novices (newbies) are awkward, slow, lack confident, feel stupid, are confused by complexity, large scale and quality standards.
- Don’t let your pride, inexperience, fear of failure, past education, immediate environment (school, work, home) stop you from continuing while you struggle.
- The first few tries could be failures. But you will gain experience and know more about yourself and what you can or can’t do. You don’t have to do what you can’t do.
My observations may seem general to starting anything new. Yet Full-Stack Marketing is unique. Usually you are starting from some basic knowledge, either in a specialty (one tool), or in a few areas (i.e. funnel), this is not the case in other new efforts (either personal or professional). Usually you already know your target market, audience and maybe products. Almost every element in a Full-Stack (analytics, content, PPC, SEO) you can outsource or hire someone. The tools are readily available and many are free to try (freemium). This is also true for dieting, exercising and playing music, yet these require full effort (or commitment). You usually have to diet all day long and exercise every day. Full-Stack Marketing you can start with partial coverage and later fill in the gaps. Much like anything worth doing which may be hard, starting with a goal, keeping the effort going and changing your mindset and habits takes work.
* Full-Stack Marketing is used in this context, this is true for digital marketing and technology as well.
Initial Results: Not What I Expected?
Beginning digital marketing does not assures good results. Full-Stack Marketing is simply combining techniques and tools together. With open access to digital marketers, outsiders sometimes mistake their ability to publish offers with profitable results. This leads to over inflated expectations. Before expecting stellar results, take into account not only competitor’s offers, but your ability to reach potential customers. Your offer and your credibility, is it competitive enough? Is a buyer ready to act based only on what you offer? The ability to convince customers to act is the first challenge you will face, others will challenge expansion and result optimizations.
Many different factors will affect your ability to succeed in influencing and then selling. Some factors you may not even know until you start reaching people and see their response. Other factors will become critical once you start. Also once you start, marketing becomes an operation with constant writing, publishing and promotion. Once you establish a level of impression and conversion you will need to improve results. This may mean adding formats, tools and even business models. These factors will eventually give you real world results. I bring the “after the start” factors here because they may help you realize what not to expect when you start. If you just take away from this point the unknown factors to success, that will be useful. If you start thinking and learning about your potential customers, your digital market landscape, the competing products, you will take away the core point of initial inflated expectation.
Impact on People, Company, Customers and Investors
Much like the first two points, this one has both a bright side and a dark one. The bright side comes from marketing using today’s tools, methods and results. This means each individual is working with mainstream professional skills and has today’s digital marketing knowledge. Working in today’s landscape gives immediate results and connects the vast pool of available information and networking with your management and staff. For organizations catching up (going through digital transformation) there is no better motivation to focus on their work. If you are well into digital work, more effort with Full-Stack Marketing is another step forward. The dark side for management and staff is abandoning the weak ones. It’s true for companies, executives and staff. It’s true for processes, tools, results and products. When you are not using today’s work standards there is a sluggish feel to marketing’s flow. The ones holding back either know they are behind the times, or need to be told. The ones “putting up” with weaker laggards need to see organizational progress. Unfortunately the digitization of today’s business is a necessity.