Most C-suite executives are familiar with the terms Online Presence/Brand, Search Engine Optimization/Marketing (SEO or SEM), and Content Marketing. They may not be intimate with the specific tactics employed under these headings, but they have no doubt read of their importance and want them included in the corporate marketing strategy. However, once the executives learn more about the lengthy process and gradual build on return, they sometimes shy away.
That’s because many company executives are like shareholders of public companies, they’re thirsty for quick gain. They expect ROI (totally understandable) and they want it now (not so much). I understand their concern. They are the ones who have to authorize the marketing budget, and they are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the corporation’s financial health. What they fail to realize is that the business—consumer dynamic has changed and that sacrificing the long game for a short gain can be fatal.
Short-term promotions with the goal of producing immediate sales remain an integral part of a comprehensive campaign, but consumers have greater expectations now. They want much more information: background about products, services and the people delivering them. Buyers expect a range of anecdotal information as well, so a Google search is a prerequisite to any significant purchase. What type of people work for your company, are there shared values or common interests? What are others saying about your company and what it offers? The buying/selling process has always been built on relationships; people tend to buy from people they like or have some affinity with. The difference now is that virtual relationship can form without your knowledge, so it is imperative that organizations have all the “touch points” and messaging necessary to quickly establish a friendly, open and positive relationship.
This represents a fundamental shift in marketing strategy. Relationships have always been a cornerstone, but it used to be the corporations determining how that relationship developed by spoon-feeding a specific formula to the market. The Internet has not only provided new tools and accessibility — it has truly emancipated the consumer. Today any consumer with an Internet connection can research, query, comment, opine, refer, start a dialogue… each consumer has a discernible voice as part of the buying collective. And corporations are expected to hear that voice and respond, they are expected to be involved in the digital conversation.
Corporate mission and vision statements alone no longer cut it. Your audience doesn’t want to listen to a monologue, nor are they interested in corporate-speak. They want the same thing you expect from your friends: honesty, reliability, accessibility, information — essentially you should be there when they need them and ready to say the fight thing at the right time. Using SEO with a comprehensive content marketing strategy will establish an online presence to offer that kind of virtual support. It is a very effective means of reaching out to potential clients, and being receptive to those who reach out to you; and has become a requirement for building sustainable growth. Rather than a quick fix, this is an ongoing strategy that takes several months to ramp up, but rewards you with long-term and ongoing results.
The whole point to investing in marketing is to attain growth: stronger brand, greater market share, higher sales, larger profit. Executives naturally favour limited risk with quick return and those who haven’t realized the marketing dynamic shift may not appreciate the need to satisfy the public’s demand for engagement. Sustainable growth requires a foundation. That foundation is built on relationships which should now include an active (and continuously evolving) network of communication points.