Digital Transformaion. How Far Should Your Company Go?

Digital Transformaion. How far does your company need to go? And why should small digital marketing companies be concerned with digital transformation for their clients? A bit lofty for our usual clients you may ask. 

Actually, no. 

The requirements for running social media and digital marketing programs involve resources throughout the company. During planning we talk to clients about how to manage digital workflows within the company culture as well as with leadership. Without a leadership vision for a digital organization the company won’t come along. And without full participation, digital initiatives are superficial, just more channels managed by the marketing department. 

Why should companies make the digital transformation? 

Midmarket companies have an opportunity to carve niches and strengthen positions, and to counter the hulking budgets of Fortune 500 competition. Digital transformation can pull a business away from the crushing forces of commoditization, competition and irrelevance. 

As companies consider the digital imperative, they are beginning to pave the way for change. There has been a  shift in budgets, from technology to digital marketing…at least some of it. Although midmarket companies are more likely to have directors and VPs of marketing, large company CMO’s are getting more budget than CIO’s in some cases.

Challenges

Leaders must really understand that digital is more than new channels of communication or data: becoming a digital organization calls for rewiring the way the whole company thinks and acts. As a marketing company, we are particularly interested in how our clients learn to change the way both marketing and technology are put to work, and how marketing and technology work together. Getting it right means huge opportunities for midmarket companies. Failing to become a digital organization will be slow decline and death. 

What is "getting it right?" 

Unlike marketing 20 years ago, having the perfect plan isn’t necessary. Its’ impossible. Getting it right means embracing business initiatives at the leadership level and running an agile plan that learns and improves over time.  

New vocabulary

Language is the primal tool for leading change. When it comes to marketing no other functional area has more native language. So it’s time to learn some new terms. But first we need to forget some old terms—It’s going to take practice! Here as some language re-learns: 

From advertising to interaction

Digital is the new ecosystem that replaces advertising with interaction. Advertising, promoting, creating visibility, generating impressions (how’s that for metric?). Increasingly these are all terms for activity that is just making noise. And on moderate or limited budgets, it’s never enough noise to get noticed. 

From selling, to helping solve

People hate being sold, but love to buy. It’s impossible to sell anything to a consumers who are empowered with data. While non-digital companies continue to use various tricks from generations of sales wizardry, the digital companies that succeed are the ones who build trust by providing value, sometimes long before—and sometimes without hope of—a sale. They learn to see other opportunities and models, to play a new game. 

From marketing channel to community

The advertising minded marketer views social media and digital media as new channels through which to pump marketing content and paid advertising. These programs serve up undesired content to users hoping to cause distraction. Other examples are offering content but then presenting lengthy forms to “capture” information to be used for more selling. Engaged digital companies see the opportunity to find valuable customers, understand their ever-changing needs, and find ways to help them solve problems. When this type of activity is seen in the digital public it becomes a powerful trust-builder. (note to paid the paid digital marketers: we get that there is a time & place for that, but here we’re trying to point out the unique value of earned digital)

From “managing” messages and “driving” motivation, to inspiring trust. 

What happens when marketing gives up some of the control of the brand and lets its audiences help shape the message? For one, third party endorsement and event just neutral mentions create credibly. It’s so powerful that some say ‘Brands’ may be less important than ‘Interaction’ as the game-changing advantage. 

New capability

New language is just lip service without new capabilities to deliver on the promise. These are some of the competencies will begin springing up in companies as they execute digital strategies:

To empower the digital organization, leadership will need to share the vision, enroll people and trust them (with the assistance of policies and practices) to be brand ambassadors in the theater of digital interaction. Employees in various departments are the best experts on the company's products and customers. A digital culture will be increasingly critical to bringing the brand experience to life. 

Customer-first ecosystem focus drives the interaction plan. This includes a disciplined search process to find and focus in on the most valuable customers (and other stakeholders) as well as their workstreams, the relevant conversations they engage, to solve the problems a company can help solve. 

As it has in the technology sector, agile planning will replace traditional top-down planning processes. Agile process breaks apart a large strategy into small, manageable chunks, measuring progress along the way and making adjustments based on new information.

Analytics are crucial to digital business, as much in the marketing department as business intelligence in the boardroom http://bit.ly/ZZx6Eh. From big data (a CIO thing) to big customer insight (a CMO thing) http://bit.ly/ZT965I

Jack Ma, founder and CEO of Alibaba shares his secret to phenomenal success: “Forget about the competition, just focus on your customers.” All of the above capabilities roll up into powerful suite of tools to better understand and serve customers. If money is the yardstick of success, who better to model than Jack Ma?