Are you building a company? or just designing another digital product? Have you seen strong professional digital marketing working on your product? What kind of results will digital marketing deliver? How do you interact and work with digital marketers? Can you learn from existing marketers and try to do what they are doing? How will digital marketing compare to traditional marketing (trade shows, direct sales, direct mail/marketing automation, etc.)? How long will it take to convert to digital? Can you train your traditional marketers into digital roles?
All these questions are simple to answer. Any digital “full-stack” marketers (generalist) should be able to discuss each of these topics in context of your own business. You should also try to come up with a quick plan and even test a few early steps (i.e. write a blog post with a technical or business manager).
Do you need to unify your people? or have a bunch of prima-donas (divas) running around?
This is a sensitive topic in many organizations, but there are always people in an organization with more privilege. Maybe there are considered more valuable because of their position or seniority. Maybe be they are looked at more favorably by management. Whatever the reason in any group there are equals and “more equals”. This situation may be a problem in your organization. Digital marketers can help by showing the work of each contributor. Tracking projects with clear management guidelines and goals is also a useful technique. The new development in digital work is the ability to see results quickly and see exact measure (Clicks, Conversion, Funnels). This makes digital era workers more aware of their position withing the group.
Do you need to get information flowing from inside the company to prospective buyers?
This topic is always a critical issue with new products. The engineers and programmers want to reveal the least of their technology. They fear direct competition from companies with more resources and stronger (better) staff. While management and marketing want to show off as much as possible. This is to allure buyers and scare off the same direct competitors the engineers worried about. The dilemma of what to reveal and how much detail is needed to sell quickly and easily is a management headache. One solution is to start slow and gradually build audience. To reveal product use and application details, but not to show the technology “under the hood”. This is a traditional technology marketing approach: use cases, case studies, application notes and most of all “features and benefits”. If you need examples take a look at each digital marketing sub-era [link to new page here]. In the early blogging era Ariana Huffington and Google served as leading examples of the format. In the Facebook & Twitter (social media) Brittany Furlan and Donald Trump serve as good examples of the format.
How is your digital marketing and operations? Are you building a digital workforce?
Companies with strong digital workers are able to use everything in today’s digital arsenal. They are also ready for changes and new development. When mobile devices became the most used information source in B2C many companies were not ready. Also many managers did not see the urgency to move websites and data (i.e. product information) to mobile formats. This gave smaller competitors a way to replace the bigger companies’ in the eyes of new clients. Essentially this is what happened twice in the last five years to companies I was working with. Both times the sites became useless to most new customers. In some business sectors where new clients are the life blood of the company, dramatic change in user preferences and behavior are critical to the company’s business. Even when one company created a mobile app for Android and iOS (iPhone) new customers were not able to access most of the information which was created over ten years was essentially lost (financial institution with a page for every trading asset in multiple exchanges).
How is your staff supporting a digital management? How are you making business decisions?
One difficult issue in today’s corporate digital progress is moving all middle management forward (into digital work). Most middle managers are usually in their 40s and 50s with twenty years’ of experience. They are also entrenched in the skills and tools from before the digital era (i.e. internet content and communication). If direct management of business and technical workers is not working with internet skills, the company will stay with their traditional ability. Some companies simply try to bring younger middle-management. They bring in people with digital work knowledge. Sometimes this helps upper management. Sometimes the staff they manage learns and adapts. Yet replacing middle management is a risky proposition. With new management traditional company values are replaced with new ones. This could mean that products change. This could also mean customers and market knowledge is lost. Most companies are not able to adapt to changes in product and customer knowledge. This is the fear upper management has when replacing middle management.
Are you preparing for the future? Are you thinking ahead?
Is your technical and business workers complacent about progress? Do you have a way to make sure that they are motivated about their digital skills? What is your staff developing in their digital capability? Startups have an opportunity to start their organization with strong digital capability (and culture). If you have a new product or need to compete with a strong existing market suppliers, digital capability will give you many options in the future. Starting with a complete digital marketing flow gives a startup both results and an image. If you want to show technical mastery, show your product as the top in the market, digital marketing is the best way to go (probably better than one-on-one sales, trade shows and manual technical sales).
Digital Communication Is Critical Component to Today’s Startups
There are lots of ideas on how to use the digital worker today. Many products and even more advice that you can ever consume: application examples (use cases), technology papers (white papers), old customer testimonies (case studies) and more blogs than anyone can read in a lifetime. But that does not mean you have to understand everything to make this critical decision. We all need to do what is right for us at the right time. One critical factor is how we use digital communication inside and outside the startup. This happens with people who are both capable and experienced. It also happens with one person who is able to work with domain experts (people who know a market sector or product well) are able to work together well.