Here’s a list of tactics I think should be attended to before new monies are invested in digital marketing. Let’s call these three macro tactics the Thrifty Trinity, and they are what I would tackle before making excuses that you can’t build the business without an investment. CFOs aren’t making investments these days, indeed, that 2009 budget you’re waiting to kick in next month? Assume it is going to shrink.
1. SEO: I am not a fan of agency/consultant based SEO and ascribe to the Calacanis heretical view that if you need to perform SEO as an overt tactic then you’re doing something wrong. But SEO is the other side of the paid search coin — proof of the cliche that a penny saved through a higher organic ranking is a penny that can be spent elsewhere in the SEM portfolio of search terms. With paid search over 25% – to as high as 50% — of many digital media plans, SEO is cost effective tactic — strike that, SEO is like breathing, do it right and you thrive — that requires general greater attention from production and content, good technical implementation, and an overall awareness from PR to blogs that clear, concise writing, credible links, and a manic desire to elevate one’s rank. Just keep in mind — everything starts with a search. So start your dour marketing there. Just think like a customer, start searching like one, and see where your organization returns. Read Hunt and Moran. Avoid consultants.
2. Social: Get Google Reader, figure out how to subscribe to RSS feeds of searches on your primary brand terms (e.g. “Chevrolet” “Chevy” “Impala” etc.), a couple C-level executive names, and start reading what people say about you. Avail yourself of the torrent of free advice on how to engage an angry customer and make it your mission to make one happy. Repeat over and over. Don’t advertise on Facebook because you think it is au courant. Don’t pay a blogger for coverage. Open your own blog. Make it your blog. Talk about your dinner. What you are reading. Get comfortable with it. It’s a good career move and when the time comes to get involved with corporate blogging, you’ll know what you’re talking about. Don’t let your external PR agency dictate the terms to you. Don’t pay attention to social media monitoring services. You can’t afford either.
3. Plan: if you have a media budget then sit down, take a hard look at a single dollar. Let’s call this “your next marketing dollar.” Now take a hard look at your media plan, your operation budget, and ask yourself — how can I make this dollar sing for its supper? What portion of it needs to go into paid search? What portion in display/banners? Should I be playing in affiliate marketing programs? What is my goal? What is the success event I want that dollar to drive and how am I going to make every penny in that dollar prove its contribution to that goal?
Next: a quick reading list