The marketing landscape changes every day. Marketing has already changed into digital during the last ten years. Traditional forms like printed advertisements and brochures are still used, but the shift in companies’ budgets is mainly moved toward digital solutions.
Digitalization is penetrating the industry and the market fast. This we can see mainly in form of different tools (software applications) that companies can use to enable, support or enhance their digital marketing. For a marketing agency, this is a demanding environment to operate in, since you need to admit that nobody can be a jack of all trades. Agencies need to focus and select some tools to concentrate on. Thus, the change into more and more digital creates new value chains and transforms the old ones. New synergies arise, when marketing and communication agencies create alliances to support their customers in various fields, using a wide array of tools and expertise to do marketing.
In the past, people gathered together around the campfire, whereas today, those who have similar interests find each other in web forums, communities and user groups in the social media regardless of time and place. The sense of community is based on strong content that ties similar people together. When a company is creating a sense of community, it is important to understand what brings customers to the company and what keeps them as loyal customers.
I claim that the basic business in the field of marketing has still remained about the same: The question is to understand where customers are and how to attract them. It is true that customers are moving in digital channels and we most probably need new skills and resources to find customers. With new skills and resources, I mean for example employees that understand the newest marketing tools, applications and other software programs, can understand and analyze data sets and, the most importantly, can apply their knowledge very fast into the changing business landscapes of their customers.
The value of marketing agencies is mainly evaluated on the basis how well they can understand the needs of potential customers and attract and interest them. This should lead into desire to buy the client’s offering, and finally into action, a purchase. Customer groups may be fragmented into very small and diverse customer profiles, which may be difficult to understand and anticipate. The marketers have to come up with various new ways to find where customers move.
Strategic nature of digital & digital (strategic) maturity of firm
There are substantial opportunities in new markets, new customers, new value propositions and new business models with digital for marketing agencies. Utilizing the experience of active customers in digital service design is a key concept and avenue for creating communality through digital marketing. The design process of service design can be split into parts, such as understanding, pondering, developing, screening, explaining and implementing. Shredding the digital service design into smaller pieces helps to take over and execute things, as everything does not have to be done at once.
Marketing and communications business is highly engaged with digital tools and technologies. The digital marketing and service design process starts with customer-oriented thinking and continues to find growth and boost sales. Digital marketing tools such as emails, paid advertisements and search engine capability, blogs and web platforms generate potential for growth hacking. Here, the use of data is strategic but often not business crucial for the agency itself, since it is most likely owned by a client. However, the capability to monetize this data is crucial.
Growth hacking is a trendy word in marketing. As a marketing entrepreneur, I must constantly invent new ways to find the places that customers use. To summarize, here is a “To-do list” for myself:
- Understand where your customers and their customers are. Do you encounter them in the real world or in the virtual world? Forget your opinions and preferences regarding certain channels or internet forums, be open to new opportunities.
- Identify and show the customer journey. Put yourself in the customers’ role and think about what they are looking for, what kind of information they would like to receive and what kind of affirmations are required.
- Direct the activity into the correct media channel, make visitors into active contacts and convert this into sales.
- Pay attention to customer loyalty and customer-oriented marketing.
- Constantly analyze and improve things.
After all, marketing is about influencing people’s behavior and decision-making – not only about whether the planned number of blogs and Instagram posts were published this week and how many likes they attracted. Marketing is only efficient if it really influences the actual target audience. And in the end, if it brings the company money. There are dozens of successful marketing methods and indicators of success, from which marketers must choose the ones that are most important for them and their business. The marketing strategy and operational tactics should be specifically based on the strategy and vision of the client company.
Dr Minttu Lampinen has studied economics in Stanford University and is specialized in digital marketing. Her responsibilities have included e.g. leading international expert teams, concepting and launching new services globally and setting up innovative digital marketing processes. She works as a principal lecturer in HAMK.