Steph’s stories – The challenge of digital marketing

Hello, again. Please don’t be put off by the blog title; I promise not to be a negative Nancy!

Many people turn to digital marketing’s biggest influencers for advice at times. Whether it’s blogs, news articles, webinars, hangouts or whatnot I can get a little… deflated reading some of it.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of great information out there but I sometimes come away thinking that all marketing activity should continuously provide fruitful, far-reaching and measurable results.

Reality check: that’s not always the case.

Working at the coalface of tourism marketing, I get to experience first hand the highs and lows of marketing strategy so today I’d like to share with you some of the most common challenges I face in my role.

You might identify with all of them or just a couple (in the perfect world, none at all!) but I think it’s good to share. You never know, I might solve a couple of your challenges too!

The pressure to measure success

“Measurement is fabulous . . . unless you’re busy measuring what’s easy to measure as opposed to what’s important.” – Seth Godin

It’s been drummed into us by many marketing gurus that ‘if you can’t measure it, it’s not worth doing’. Please don’t fret about it, because it simply isn’t true.

Whilst it’s super important to measure your return on investment, there are many equally valuable aspects of your marketing activity that you can’t put a value on. For example, the delight someone gets when you ask them to guest blog, the smile on someone’s face from the funny pictures you’ve shared on Facebook, the pleasure someone feels winning your competition. 

The ‘soft’ results that improve your brand reputation and awareness are just as important as hard-sell marketing activities, so cherish them, never underestimate them.

That isn’t to say that you should abandon any attempt to measure the results of your digital campaigns. Google, social media analytics and scheduling tools all provide important data to help you measure the impact of your marketing activities.

Notice I use the word ‘impact’, rather than ‘success’. That’s for a reason. Some campaigns aren’t successful but all have impact. For example, a perceived failed campaign is a valuable learning tool to improve your marketing campaigns next time. 

Competition                                                                     

We’ve all been there. That feeling of utter deflation and gut-wrenching fear when a competitor pops up (seemingly out of thin air) with a near-identical product or service to your own.

All those days and hours slaving away building a brand your customers love, an engaged social media following, an insightful blog suddenly seem wasted. Not so.

See this not as a threat, but as an opportunity. You’ve done it well all this time, now you’ll do it better than your competitor. The main thing to bear in mind? You’ll have to do it differently from now on. 

It can be extremely stressful, trying to devise new and engaging ways of appealing to your market without compromising your brand values or sacrificing your loyal ambassadors, but it isn’t all bad news.

Competition is an opportunity to acquire new digital skills that your customers can benefit from. Acquiring digital skills will help your business move forward and retain the competitive edge.

Is it time to try Instagram? Maybe experiment with Facebook Live? How about email marketing?

Many of these skills can be picked up for free or for very little cost, all you need is the desire to try something new and to gauge how your audience reacts.

Time to get tough!

There are pluses and minuses to having an online presence. I probably don’t need to remind you about the positives but one of the negatives is that some people inevitably won’t respond positively to your brand.

Unhappy with a purchase, poor customer service, a bad meal, even being ignored on social media are all reasons people take to social media to vent at businesses.

Gone are the days of a snotty letter or phonecall. Social media exists in the here-and-now so if you’re a disgruntled customer it’s the easiest and most damning way to shame and, hopefully, get a resolution. 

Like any form of social media negative responses come in a variety of guises. Negative posts, pictures, videos, comments, reviews, tweets and private messages can really take the wind out of your sails, even if every other comment you receive that day is filled with praise.

It’s here that you, not your business needs a thick skin. If I can give you one really important piece of advice for dealing with negative comments, it’s this: don’t take it personally.

It’s difficult; after all, your business is your baby and naturally close to your heart. Having a planned approach to dealing with negative (and positive) comments, one that your whole organisation can follow, is key. For instance:

  • create a library of stock responses and use them for all comments;
  • deal with problems in a timely and polite fashion;
  • know when to deal and when to escalate;
  • be prepared to admit if you have made a mistake;
  • say sorry and make up for your error if you can.

Having a step-by-step method for dealing with negative comments and complaints will remove the personal aspect and enforce your professional brand image. A win-win, wouldn’t you say?

Parting thought

What advice would you give to a small business starting out on a digital adventure?

Like any job, digital can be tough and sometimes it’s difficult to define the return on our own investment – us. However, acknowledging that fact can be empowering, especially if we share our story with others in the same boat.

If you’re struggling with your own set of digital challenges and would like some help overcoming them, why not get in touch and we’ll chat it out over your poison of choice? 

Image courtesy of © Crown copyright (2011) Visit Wales, all rights reserved

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