“We learn from history that we learn nothing from history” George Bernard Shaw.
This recession will end, hopefully sooner than later. But we must be realistic and recognize that the cyclical nature of economies will bring along another downturn before we know it. It is a certainty. However, the knowledge that history repeats itself does not mean we will act any differently to prepare ourselves for the inevitable future.
A Solid Five Year Plan Needed To Start Five Years Ago
One of those infamous questions asked of entry level candidates starting a career is “Where do you want to be five years from now?” It gets answered many ways. Some handle the question well while others flub around with what they hope is an appropriate answer. Others simply don’t know, not having thought it through. The smarter ones usually have a goal in mind and have mapped out a plan to achieve it.
But what if that question was directed to your marketing efforts? Where will it be in five years? My guess is many wish they had asked (and answered) that question five years ago, especially as it relates to digital.
Where Do You Stand?
Although we are smack in the middle of economic turmoil, digital is still a bright spot in terms of growth in marketing. But the issue remains that many have failed to scratch the surface of its true potential. As such, it is time to ask some hard questions and assess the stage you are at.
The list of below is posed in terms of where you might be today if you had begun to address things long enough ago to have already made a difference. In others words, how much better off would you be if you started to tackle the following over the past few years?:
- Has broad digital knowledge been established with investments in human capital, hiring and ongoing education?
- Are digital efforts aligned against best practices and creating your own reliable benchmarks?
- Have basic opportunities like email, search and landing pages been exercised? Have they advanced?
- Has the creation of compelling content taken place and been updated on a consistent basis?
- Has site usability and utility improved over time?
- Has optimization of campaign efforts and site performance been undertaken?
- Where is the right fit in terms of balancing push versus pull marketing?
- Has social media played a part in listening to and developing a dialogue with customers?
- Has permission been captured to contact customers and prospects in the future?
- Have customer profiles and preferences been recorded?
- What insights and advances are being applied through analytics?
Many items are listed here. It is not a test, more of a reality check. The good news is that if you have made headway with even a few of these items you are doing better than most. Although it is kind of sad that we consider it good news when only a few of these items are checked off.
It’s Always Easier Save What Has Been Proven To Work
The harsh reality in a faltering economy is that cutbacks come down the line effecting people, projects and programs. There are tough decisions in terms of what goes and what stays. But it does not need to be that way. Mindsets geared to constant experimentation, testing and measuring outcomes when times are flush already have answers to these questions. They have proved what works and what does not. They are prepared and are likely able to preserve marketing dollars and talent.
Asset Building And Wealth Management
These are not concepts isolated to the financial world. A strong and meaningful brand is a strategic asset. It takes a lot of effort and time to build, grow and maintain. Done right, it pays substantial dividends over time.
Digital success is no different. The simple fact is that the vast majority of consumers are online and that is where the bulk of the brand experience is being delivered these days. And, it is only getting bigger and more important. As such, digital requires the same attention to vision, constant evolution and nurturing as does traditional brand marketing and management.
However, this means that now more than ever we need to be cognizant of our digital efforts. We need to avoid grasping at tactics in search of a quick fix. There are no get rich quick schemes here. It is all about sustainability and investing in select areas that will pay back over the long term. So go create that five year plan and start knocking-off the items that align against it.
No Digital Regrets? You May Be Lying To Yourself
Hindsight is always 20/20. So, be honest about regrets for not having done things when you had the chance. It’s okay to admit it because we all have them. It may be a small test, an idea for new content, changing and testing one variable, or perhaps taking a risk that would be much harder to get away with right now.
Whatever the case, imagine where you might be today if you had and use it as a reminder of why it is important to stay the course for the future. It is required to navigate the path ahead. As rosy as thing look, there is always danger waiting in the wings.
Living through history we have the knowledge that it will repeats itself but have yet to develop the wisdom to deal with it appropriately. Always be prepared.