Marketing goes digital, are you ready?


"May you live in interesting times". This Chinese curse seems to ring true today, as much as when I heard it 25 years ago from my then mentor and boss.

All of us as Marketers find ourselves in a state of flux, straddling the traditional and digital methods and hoping that this balancing act will allow us to reach our target audience and produce the high quality leads our sales teams count on us for. Marketing leaders spend time learning, educating, inspiring and ultimately cajoling those in their organization to adopt new methods. While we consider our next steps, buying behavior has accelerated its shift to the social web.

Consider the recent research:

New research from ITSMA and Pierre Audoin Consulting (PAC) shows that 55% of U.S. IT buyers use social media to gather information and communicate with colleagues during the purchase process. That’s a 50% increase over 2008, when just 37% of buyers said they used social media.

Similar findings cited at Social Media Today, referring to B2B buyers

  • 78% started with informal info gathering
  • 59% engaged with peers who addressed the challenge
  • 48% followed industry conversations on topic
  • 44% conducted anonymous research of a select group of vendors
  • 41% followed discussions to learn more about topic
  • 37% posted questions on social networking sites looking for suggestions/feedback
  • More than 20% connected directly with potential solution providers via social networking channels

No matter where you look and what you read, Marketing must move to digital. The majority of our customers are seeking information on-line, and then validating their purchase decisions on the social web.

So we find ourselves as marketers on the precipice of change, straddling the traditional and the digital chasm.

  • Our tenured marketing team members possess a wide spectrum of skills and interest in this relatively new for of marketing.
  • The paradigms of "pushing" information out, asking for a registration, receiving some small percentage of responses and declaring victory is quickly coming to an end.
  • While a growing percentage of customers are going digital, many have not and remain skeptical of purchase decisions based on a digital relationship.

Do you lay awake at night with these questions (admittedly I do)?

  • How fast do we adopt new methods, and what should drive that adoption?
  • To what extent is Social Media integrated in to current campaigns, and at what point does it become the campaign?
  • If the buyers and influencers vary in their use and trust of Social Media, how much to we vary our marketing methods?

Managing marketing organizations in these interesting times requires 3 things:

  • First and foremost, an unwaivering belief that we must change or become obsolete. This belief must propel the organization forward without alienating people in the process.
  • Acceptance that your organization will always be a spectrum of interest, passion and capabilities for what's new.
  • A gauge that acceptable progress is being made. The gauge will be different for each organizational culture. I tend to use "indicators" within my organization that give me confidence we are moving forward at the pace we need to.

These are the types of topics I find myself working through and would be very interested to hear other issues that marketers are facing as well.


About Author

Deb Orton

Senior Marketing Director

Senior Marketing Director responsible for US focused Field Marketing campaign teams.

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