Before You Begin: Simple Digital Marketing series

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On Friday, when I got back from the doctor’s, he told me to just take a day off and rest in bed. So first I did what I always do when I’m put on bed rest– catch up on my own marketing projects once I’m sure all my client projects are going well.

Blog posts, images, slide decks, product development, that sort of thing.

(We’ll come back to that shortly, it’s relevant to our discussion.)

Rome inspired an explanation of digital marketing strategy vs tactics

True downtime is fantastic sometime though. I decided to fully commit to the idea of resting in bed and rewatch the HBO series Rome. And because this is how my mind works, everything relates back to life lessons, marketing or both.

HBO's Rome

Image credit

In this fictionalized account of Julius Caesar vs Pompey, in the short term, Caesar is victorious against his immediate competitors for the love and glory of Rome, Pompey and his faction.

Image credit:

Image credit:

In the HBO depiction, Caesar’s victory can be attributed to his careful planning and fluid strategy. Pompey, on the other hand, while he definitely plotted, he did so with short term goals in mind and in a much more reactionary, tactical fashion.

This had me thinking about why I was stuck on the blog post to follow, the one I announced at the end of my last one.

The plan was to release my simplest plan for digital marketing, aimed at people who need a simple, clear blueprint for starting or re-igniting their digital marketing plan, in the blog.

The reason I am stuck is because I am loathe to offer tactics that aren’t backed by strategy, and every strategy is different.

I know you’ve heard that a thousand times, so here’s what it means on the ground.


The importance of how strategy shapes tactics from my work life

I’m a writer.

Image credit: Flickr user ravages

Image credit: Flickr user ravages’m a writer.

There are people who ARE writers. Add there are people who are skilled at writing or like to write.

For me, it’s the first camp. I write so that I can breathe. Which works out because in the digital age you must create a lot of content, and it all starts in the words.

There are lots of ways to market my business that are better, tactically speaking, than creating text heavy communications.

It’s seriously falling out of vogue, unless you’re one of these long-winded types who can go on for 1600 words or so.

(Yep. Guilty.)

I have explored these other options and continue to expand into those areas where it makes sense.

Some things that tactically make sense may be trumped by strategic advantages.

But I am not a visual person, to the point that I won’t watch videos if I can get the same information in an article. I’m also camera shy and without a real computer for another month or so.

(A Chromebook plus an iPad Air equals almost one regular laptop, but until there’s decent video screen capture on one of these devices, I can’t live without.)

Add in my on again off again health issues, multimedia is not at the top of my list of ways to market, though it IS on that list.

But I can pump out a well researched, article of 2000 words with fun images in a few hours. 2 is my record with the help of voice recognition.

I’ve won awards for my writing throughout my life and it works for me in multiple forms to help me get both subscribers and sales.

In short, strategically speaking, writing is a strength. Yes I need to shift to a more visual marketing strategy to keep from getting left behind. But knowing how strong I am in that area informs what I do today and how I will proceed going forward.

What’s my point?

Sometimes the most effective digital marketing tactic isn’t the best digital marketing idea for you or your company strategically.

The converse is often true as well.

Speaking of strategy, let’s get back to Rome

Image credit:

Image credit:

One reason I loved re-watching Rome is because from time to time they talk about battle strategy, another topic of fascination for me that I dabble in.

In Caesar’s final battle with Pompey’s army, he calmly rallied his troops to what most believed to be certain death. Another high ranking officer asked him why they were fighting instead of surrendering, with scared men and little hope.

TACTICALLY, surrender was the best option.  But Caesar was a strategist. He believed that being in this position was to their advantage, saying: “We win or we die. Pompey’s soldier’s have other options.”

He was right, at least in the show. With nothing left to lose, his army was victorious when all other tactical evaluations would tell you that Pompey’s triumph was certain and inevitable.

Where in your business could you come from behind and claim victory?

Strategic marketing takes time but not planning can cost you

Remember earlier when I said I was taking some time out to beef up my own content arsenal once I was done perfecting client work? It’s something you have to plan into your schedule and it does take time.

It’s difficult to market yourself while you run a business, especially if it’s marketing other people’s companies.

You still have to do it, unless you aren’t trying to at least maintain the current status of your business. Otherwise the loss of one big client, one product launch failure, one customer service incident gone wrong, one single mistake, one contract ending, or just regular churn can bring down your entire company.

That’s no way to live.

If you are constantly marketing and bringing in new business while you retain existing business, you grow if the rate of new business coming in exceeds old business ending.

That alone is a great reason to take the time to start a digital marketing plan, one that’s compatible with your overall marketing strategy, and fits in well with your digital marketing strategy.

You have some time to figure all this out

You don’t have to have all of this figured out overnight, or even before you finish the process we’ll be starting together. But in the next section I’ve compiled a shortlist of items you can look at before proceeding- if you can’t get to them all now, be sure to peruse them before you fully execute the plan I’ll be showing you.

I know I keep harping on it, but I’m trying to keep you from a world of regret. If you don’t at least consider strategy now, at the end of this you’ll likely end up saying to yourself some version of:

Aw man! X would have made us more money if we had thought of doing Y.”

Digital marketing plan resources

Moz has a great online marketing section, and in it is a chart of digital marketing options. It will give you an idea of the top digital marketing tactics that exist and how much time and money it takes to execute them, relatively speaking.

One of my favorite posts from the year from Lee Odden will help you understand if your current plan is just a bunch of tactics strung together or an actual strategy:

This guest post on Mashable gives you an airplane view of the digital marketing questions you should be asking yourself in order to form a feasible strategy.

Last year Bud Caddell uploaded a really easy to understand deck on digital strategy to Slideshare. Don’t just flip through it, answer the questions posed for your business. It’s as close as you’ll get to a crash course for free in under 100 pages.

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