I recently had the opportunity to attend the first-ever Canadian Internet Marketing Conference as a guest speaker on a Business-to-Business (B2B) panel. It was great to be at an event with a broad view of the world of digital marketing, as opposed to the often narrowly-focused world of social media marketing.
Mixing and mingling with the brightest and best in digital marketing was heady stuff and I came away with fresh insights and new perspectives. Attending the conference also reaffirmed my conviction that, at heart, all marketing is a people-to-people practice where courtesy, mutual respect and authentic communications rule the day.
So what were the big takeaways? Five themes emerged consistently over the two-day span of the event, and that these five points apply not only to our digital and social media strategies, but to our offline engagement as well.
Know your market;
Businesses and organizations must spend time researching and understanding their audiences and defining their ideal customers in order to “fish where the fish are”. Digital platforms are ideal for stakeholder listening and conversations whether via social media posts and comments, blog engagement or online surveys. The old marketing adage ‘go where the traffic is’ still holds true.
Build a cohesive brand
Building a great brand is all about cohesion. Customers and clients must resonate with the brand in order to come to know, like, and trust it. Focus and consistency across all touch points – on your website, blog, Facebook page, business cards, brochures, or in person – is critical to brand awareness and making a real connection with customers.
Tell an effective story
The Internet makes it possible for anyone to tell a story. Consumers are looking for brands that tell their story in an effective way. Human stories that carry emotional impact or that enlighten, inform and entertain make our hearts beat a little faster. Create compelling stories and tell them consistently. Include your customers in the story. Encourage them to generate and post their experiences with your brand.
Integrate your tactics
Third-party credibility still rules, and having your product, service or cause featured or validated in mainstream media is well worth the time and money invested. Integration of traditional, grassroots and interactive strategies that include a savvy combination of public relations, social media, and strong SEO and digital ad campaigns are proving to have the most impact. While the print world isn’t disappearing just yet, it is changing dramatically. Find creative, interactive ways to use print.
During the B2B panel, I posed the question: What are people for? Do we reduce people to consumers, fans and followers or are we in the game for something bigger? In the B2B world we’re generally looking at a long-term relationship with our clients, and with their businesses.
Digital platforms can provide an entry point for your brand, product or service but the relationship is going to grow and blossom offline. For my money, relationships are everything. Good old-school face-to-face meetings and personal follow-through are still the most powerful tools in your marketing toolkit.
Photo: The Chicks: Karina Cebuliak, Vicki McLeod Credit: Braden Paul Photography