Do you approach Digital Marketing tactically or strategically?

A lot of the work that we do at Marketing Tom Media involves helping clients create Digital Marketing Strategies - either through advising them on training or sitting down with them and working out the detail of the actual strategy. So often I see clients being tempted by some some new, exciting application and want to sign up for it and apply it straight away. You've seen a competitor has a blog and another a Twitter account and feel that in order to keep up with them that you should do so to.

Well, hang fire!

Some of these tools may, or often may not, fit in with the digital marketing or social media strategies of these organisations but may not for yours. A couple of days' back Seth Godin wrote an article - when tactics drown out strategy - and said:

Most of us are afraid of strategy, because we don't feel confident outlining one unless we're sure it's going to work. And the 'work' part is all tactical, so we focus on that. (Tactics are easy to outline, because we say, "I'm going to post this." If we post it, we succeed. Strategy is scary to outline, because we describe results, not actions, and that means opportunity for failure.)

He further goes on to say that:

"Building a permission asset so we can grow our influence with our best customers over time" is a strategy. Using email, twitter or RSS along with newsletters, contests and a human voice are all tactics. In my experience, people get obsessed about tactical detail before they embrace a strategy... and as a result, when a tactic fails, they begin to question the strategy that they never really embraced in the first place.

We often have this discussion on the courses that we run, be they CIM courses or 1-day workshops. Students often say that they saw a great offer by Google (a free Adwords voucher), use their credit and say it never worked for them. Or they hear that MailChimp is being used by all and sundry but it doesn't work for them. Might it just be that they tactical approach is wrong possibly because they haven't properly considered their strategy.

When students do a course like the CAM Diploma in Digital Marketing or a level 4 or 6 CIM course with us, they are often presented with a methodology like SOSTAC which gives them a framework for developing successful digital marketing plans. This is what SOSTAC stands for:

  • Situation Analysis
  • Objectives
  • Strategy
  • Tactics <-----
  • Action
  • Control

These frameworks are important as they give you and your colleagues direction (objectives) based on what is happening with your organisation at this moment (situation analysis), let you consider the right audience and channels to market (strategy), help consider the correct tactical tools and offer a mechanism for measurement of your activities (control). Notice where tactics sit - position 4 out of 6 in this framework! But time and time again we see people begin their Digital Marketing activities at this point. So, next time you see an article on Mashable about some new Web 2.0 application or a report from the Guardian about the top social media tools for business, pause and ask yourself whether it fits into your overall digital marketing strategy. If you don't have a digital marketing strategy, you know what you have to do!

Related Courses
CIM Qualifications (These courses cover both strategic and digital marketing issues).

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