Shai Masot
Shai Masot צילום: יח"צ

The current global crisis has caused businesses around the world to reimagine how to conduct their work, how they find and reach out to customers, and how best to communicate with them, and developing a business plan to reach those goals. Lots of businesses and mostly small size, private shops and small factories, found themselves without the ability to connect with their clients. These types of businesses need to develop a swift digital strategy.

This strategy needs to cover all the customer’s journey from the marketing stage up to the delivery of goods and services.

1. Strategic Planning – Create a roadmap

The first step to a digital transformation is to assess the business current strategy using a couple of different strategic planning models. Each of these models can be used to determine what your product is all about and what the current market may dictate for how you do business. These brainstorming models will help determine why your product is better than the competition’s, who your customer is, and what the best means to get the goods to the customer may be.

SWOT

One model available is the SWOT strategy, or Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The SWOT tool Create a four square matrix for the planning for your specific business in the current situation. In the first square label it Strengths. What is it that you do well as a company? What resources are available to you? What are your perceived strengths by the customer? Label the second box Weaknesses. Ask yourself; What are areas in which we can improve? What resources are needed that are not available now? What are our perceived weaknesses? In the 3rd box think about your Opportunities. What trends are happening now that could be taken advantage of in the market? What identified strengths can be turned into opportunities? Finally, work to identify the Threats to your business. What is out there that can harm you? What is your competition doing? What threats do your weaknesses expose you to in the marketplace?

PEST

The PEST (Political, Economic, Social, and Technological analysis tool measures the market viability, its potential for growth or decline. It will allow the business to determine its current position, the potential for growth, and the direction the business will need to go in order to be successful, especially in this new digital world. Again create a four square matrix. The first square will be used to determine the Political factors in the market. Some of the questions may be; What are the current economic or environmental issues my business is facing? What legislation or government policies at home or abroad will need to be addressed? What trade issues are there? Will the business be affected by wars, conflicts, or pandemics? Secondly, identify the Economic Factors. What home and international trends are affecting the economy? What taxation laws or marketing cycles are identified? Will interest rates or exchange rates affect the business? What is driving the customer given the current state of economy? The third box will be for the Social factors. What are the current lifestyle trends? Who are the social media influencers? What demographics will you target and what are their attitudes and opinions? What advertising or publicity is needed? Are there ethics issues involved? Finally, identify the Technological issues facing the business. What competing technological advances do you face? What is the digital capacity of the business? What IT or AI needs are needed?

These types of strategic planning models will help the business do some deep research to identify what they do best and ways in which to improve. Then the data collection and digging in in regards to product and consumer can begin.

2. Target Audience – Learn your audience

The second step in any marketing campaign is to identify and target your audience and understand how to out reach and retain each particular customer. As we said current changes have shifted business from a traditional “hard sell” market of goods and services to “social marketing” or the sharing of relevant information to the right group of people.

You will have to define your target audience by gender, age group, incomes, values and interest, all so you can define the right strategies for the specific audience. Surveys of existing customer bases is a good start and will give specific information about the social sites used, content the customer reads, blogs read and which podcasts subscribed. In addition, conduct a competitor audience analysis based on the models that were suggested on the first step.

These will all allow you to narrow your target and find the niche on which to focus.
Some online sites are available to find and narrow your audience including Facebook Ads Manager. It uses a wide range of demographic data for this type of search. You will be able to create a “look-a-like” audience, applying filters as necessary to set up a business page using this data.

Find and follow established influencers on Instagram and Twitter to find those in your niche to add to your follower base. Twitter can be used to find and reach customers based on geography, gender, keywords, interests, and influencers followed. Using ads.twitter.com will give access to this type of audience information. Pew Research gives data on the type of usage by groups for types of platforms used and provides marketing charts. This data is restricted to the US only so global data is not included. Entrepreneur John Lee Dumas suggests creating a fictional personal avatar which reflects your “ideal customer”. This will clearly define your product and its consumer.

Do this often enough and your targeted audience will take notice of you and your business.

3. Engage - Communicating with Your Clients

So now that your audience is defined, choosing how is the best way to communicate with your audience and potential clients. Typical methodologies of email and messages will likely be used, but don’t be afraid to venture out into a new way of communicating. The softer social marketing will use preferred social sites and be “personalized” to your customer. The use of Survey Monkey and Google Forms can be used to determine how your customer base likes to best communicate. The use of free webinars, visual marketing tools, blogs, personal stories are options for communication. Don’t forget to use phone capabilities, available or personalized Apps, Chats or online meeting sites like Zoom or Google Hangout, In order to work efficiently, you need to determine which channels of communication work best for your consumer and the capabilities of your business and build the HR support for those specific needs.

4. Set Operation plan - Delivery of the Goods

Delivery of your brand, goods, or services can be augmented from typical sites and systems currently available. Use the communication tool mentioned above, but don’t be afraid to venture into new territory. Turn on the video-go live. Using face-to-face voice and video connects you to your client in a personal way and give a genuine connection to them. Use Virtual 360 tours of your brick and mortar site or your product. Upload your videos or live promos to your business pages. Create “customizeable options” so your client can personalize their product choice. This will make for a more immersive experience. Today’s customer is well informed and they do more research on their own. Go beyond the norm and venture into virtual reality options. The enhanced experience of virtual reality is being used by companies like North Face so they give an immersive experience and play to the emotional base of their consumers. Virtual reality gives the consumer “try before you buy” option.

5. Digital Infrastructure - Automate the Prosses

There are several online tools available that make this transition actionable. The best of these have many features that will help a business reach out to customers and manage marketing. They can assist with deployment of the platform, customer analytics, automated publishing, content management, conversion tracking, customer targeting, keyword filtering, and multi-account management. Most offer free trials in order to determine if the platform best fits your business. The top five platforms include Sprout Social, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Falcon.IO, Sociamonials, and Agile CRM. All are cloud based and some have the ability to deploy through mobile applications. Always remember that technology should serve your needs. You need to build the structure in a way that will save human resources and be automated as much as possible.

6. Outreach - Marketing Plan

Now that you’ve done your research it’s time to put in all into action by creating a marketing plan. One of the places is known a s a PPC. This marketing strategy is important if the business is new or in a competitive market. It is a “paid” search tool which helps capture new customers and immediate traffic and sales. It works well with any budget and allows the business owner easily tracked and measurable data for quicker results. It also uses a “retargeting” strategy that directs ads to specific audiences.

A Search Engine Optimization, or SEO strategy, is an organic digital strategy used as consumers are searching for products and services. This strategy relies on a complex algorithm used by Google and other search engines for ranking your site. Digital spiders look for over 200 ranking factors for placement of your site in rank order. Responsive sites that are more user friendly, have more content, and multimedia tend to do best with SEO marketing.

Ad campaigns need to ramp up effectiveness in this new digital market. The consumer is looking for an emotional connection to the product. Strategies that employ imaginative messaging and design, using creative delivery will optimize your brand. The best designs foster interest and curiosity in the viewer. It’s visceral and elicits and unquestionable emotional response. The first impression elicited by this type of campaign will solidify your product and brand.

Moving beyond brick and mortar and face-to-face will require hard work and effort. The digital marketplace of today is more personal than ever. The customer is better educated and looking for a special relationship with your company and product. Knowing your audience niche is the first step. Making sure you have the means set up to attract and communicate with your audience is critical. Customers are searching for ways to connect in this digital world. Our challenge is crafting our business to reflect and enhance that connectivity.

About Shai Masot (Learn More)

Shai Masot provides digital solutions to assist companies with their marketing operations. He has an M.A. in political and digital marketing and is a former senior political officer at the Israeli Embassy in London & VP Marketing Solutions at Imprint.

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