I am not a 100% sure what makes small-medium business marketing managers/owners shut down the idea of investing and dedicating resources into digital efforts. Over a somewhat short, albeit exciting career in integrated marketing I have come across a number of decision makers who have simply refused to get involved (whether small or fully integrated) with the digital world. The dreaded words of “it is not part of our budget”, “we haven’t done it up until now and we are doing fine” or my personal favourite “It’s not high on the priority list”.
If you are currently in a position of dealing with someone who does not believe in all of the brand-related goodness that is available with digital branding, this post aims to give you a helping hand in making progress. By progress I mean the ability to effectively convince your gatekeeper into embracing these brand building tools and guiding the future of marketing plans into a complete, successful strategy for long-term business success. A post that I, myself would have welcomed and used with opens arms if it were available.
Here are a couple of scenarios that you may come across, and effective ways to deal with them:
Scenario 1 – Too Late To Start Now
We haven’t jumped on the trend when it just started, it is too late for us to get involved now since “everyone” is using social media.
How To Respond:
Who is everyone? Explain how it is never too late to use great business tools. Use data figures (such as these) to point out how the shift in customer and brand interaction (whether B2B or B2C) has been shifting towards digital and mobile mediums. Having a presence in ALL places, both offline and online, ensures branding at all customer touch points.
Hint: Find a couple of examples of other local businesses using social media successfully – present the performance to your manager. There is nothing more encouraging than seeing similar examples directly within the area doing well.
Scenario 2 – Budget Allocation
It is not part of our budget.
How To Respond:
Describe how certain tactics do not require an edit to the budget – if you are the marketing person (or have one), your salary is part of the budget. Come up with a plan that you can measure, create a content update schedule or calendar and show how nothing more than some time dedication and planning can lead to first digital baby-steps.
Hint: Make sure you are detailed with your content calendar. Show what type of content will be shared/created, where and how. Include a way to measure the success of the effort (for example: if its a blog post you are writing, how many people have seen it and went on to the company website).
Scenario 3 – Not High On The Priority List
There are more “important” things to get done than spend time on social media and tweeting customers.
How To Respond:
This is a tough argument, particularly if your business has not been active in social media and relies heavily on traditional advertising. If you have competitors which are active digitally, it would be best to show how they outperform your organization in certain areas…such as ranking higher for local search results on a specific keyword, they have more reviews on Google+ local map listings, have lots of comments on their blog, etc.
These can all be indicators of competitors having an upper hand and visually representing the urgency of becoming active online. Staying on top of latest marketing and engagement trends can ensure that you do not fall behind competition and remain competitive. What could be more important than staying competitive?!
Hint: As mentioned in the above response, find your competitors rankings for SEO, social media interaction with customers, etc…any way you can show how your business is losing its competitiveness. If you are unable to find such information – outline the possibility of losing out on potential views or customers visiting your website.
For example: if 350 search for “local organic vegetables” in your area (assuming you sell these goods) and your website or content does not rank within the first page – the business is missing out on a huge small business SEO opportunity that it may not even be aware of. Remember, connecting data to performance is key to winning over a stubborn manager.
Scenario 4 – We Are Doing Just Fine Without Internet Marketing
We haven’t focused on online marketing up until now and our business is doing just fine, there is no need to change what has been working all this time.
How To Respond:
This is somewhat related to Scenario 3 – point out that yes, currently the business is doing well with traditional marketing efforts but who is to say it cannot do better if it introduced digital marketing? This is where you could do some research to show missed opportunities or room for potential increase in business performance if specific digital efforts are introduced. Which business owner or manager wouldn’t like to do better than what they expected?
Hint: Connecting the efforts that have been done “up until now” with digital efforts is key here. There does not need to be a significant shift in marketing – just introduce digital tactics into what is already being done to create a more integrated approach for better overall performance. You are simply taking “what works” and digitizing it to be slightly better optimized. The best shifts in culture are gradual ones!
Scenario 5 – It Is Not Relevant To Our Industry
We are a B2B company, we need to focus on directly reaching customers. Digital marketing is not a good strategy for our industry, direct sales calls and trade shows work more effectively in reaching decision makers.
How To Respond:
Digital branding can work for any type of business, regardless of how technical or targeted it may be. Point out that digital marketing does not have to mean just tweeting and sending Facebook posts. Sales people can accompany their calls or trade shows efforts by sending potential customers to the website where they can find helpful case studies. Put up customer reviews or recommendations and previous project successes that the lead can browse through before the sales person follows up.
This will keep the brand in the potential customers mind and give them confidence without having to be convinced just by a sales rep. If done right, these cases studies and application examples will get the customers calling in themselves, ready to start a conversation…which is what every sales department dreams of!
Hint: Gather examples of case studies or potential application “guidelines” from around the web – put together a template of the tool you decide to use, and a way to get it seen by your target audience. Ensuring that these documents are highly informative, easy to read and helpful to both the potential customer and sales rep will help you get one step closer to changing your managers mind when it comes to digital marketing.
The scenarios presented here are limited in number, there are plenty more situations that arise for branding professionals in their efforts to develop a truly successful marketing strategy. While these responses provide a good starting guide, much research and planning needs to go into each response in order for the decision maker to be convinced. It is not a one-time conversation, but a persistent effort to make the shift.
Hopefully this post can help you get over the hump, leave a comment below if you found success using any of these responses or would like to share your own experience in dealing with digital naysayers.