Defining Strategy: an Interactive Road map
Organizations can realize meaningful competitive advantage by developing formal digital strategies that support key business and marketing objectives. By proactively designing, measuring and optimizing these digital strategies and programs, maximum return on dollars invested can be achieved.
Organizational investments on Internet-oriented marketing and sales initiatives over the past 15 years have increased from virtually nothing in the mid-90s to millions of dollars annually. Today, digital activities run the gamut from multi-functional websites, search and email marketing, banner advertising, web-enabled multimedia, and, of course, social media.
This seismic increase in spending is not without good reason: digital marketing works – for new customer acquisition, lead generation, and brand building. However, given the speed at which the interactive marketplace has evolved, it should come as no surprise that many organizations now find themselves with sprawling, disjointed digital marketing operations that lack a central vision and useful measurement systems. ~ Connie Amidei, Chief Digital Strategist, AmiTec Consulting.
As a result, organizational leaders find themselves struggling to devise, measure, monitor and optimize the performance of these scatter shot interactive programs – which now have the full attention of the entire team. And subsequent digital strategy and budget planning discussions are often overly reactive and disorderly, lacking a structured framework and methodology to guide the process.
The Building Blocks of Digital Strategy
While the digital medium provides leaders wit h a dizzying array of exciting new tools and techniques, it hasn’t fundamentally changed the way most organizations do business. As such, digital strategies need to be considered within the context of an organization’s top-line objectives.
Discovery. Establish a sound understanding of the organization’s underlying strategies and personality, including: unique value proposition, industry nuances, target audiences, sources of competitive advantage
Competitive Analysis. Evaluate the organization’s digital operations vis-à-vis the competitive landscape. Specify competitor strategies and spending levels. Identify relevant secondary research and conduct primary research. Determine industry best practices and applicable best-in-class tactics being employed in other sectors.
Recommendations. Deliver specific concepts that can be employed to support organizational objectives and which can be measured. These can include: innovative techniques for deployment, and integration opportunities, budget re-allocation, and organizational adjustments. Establish measurement frameworks, and digital goals and objectives.
Each phase of this methodology, while interdependent with the others, can be pursued in parallel in order to streamline the process and be completed quickly. Core tenets of this approach are a 360° perspective of the issues, the combination of quantitative and qualitative inputs, and specific recommendations that can be measured and optimized over time.
AmiTec Consulting Group works with clients to pursue digital transformation initiatives that result in new revenues, competitive advantage, and more efficient operations. Please contact Connie Amidei, Chief Digital Strategist at AmiTec Digital. Connie@amitecdigital.com or at 352.281.2681.
Have you started building and growing your online presence beyond a basic website? Did you know that your online presence today affects your credibility, reputation, professional relevance and referral power?
Perhaps you’ve been hesitant to do more because of compliance fears or perhaps you just aren’t sure where to begin. New digital tools, social networks and mobile devices in just a few short years have completely changed the way we live and work. All that change can be overwhelming, and it’s moving at the speed of light.
We’ve entered an era where anyone can build a personal-media platform. If you don’t attempt to adapt and embrace this “new media” revolution with your own online presence, you are putting your business at risk. The risk of sitting on the sidelines today is greater than the risk of moving forward.
In order to forge ahead successfully, you need a process. It’s not the new tools that will make you successful, it’s the process you implement to leverage those tools. When you have a process in place, all of a sudden, things aren’t so complicated anymore. Sound familiar? This is exactly what you do for your clients when you help them develop a clear financial plan and implement an investment strategy that is targeted to their goals. It’s all about the process and we can help. Connie Amidei, Chief Digital Strategist, AmiTec Consulting
The most logical place to start is to develop a plan. Think about your goals, budget and the resources that might be required to go digital. Consider which online marketing channels make sense for your business, as well as the education or training you might need to get up to speed with building your online presence. Most importantly, creating a powerful online presence will require a consistent investment of time to build traction initially and to continue that momentum on a daily basis. Now is a good time to evaluate which marketing activities aren’t working and reinvest your resources into building long-term digital equity that will pay off for years to come.
Today it’s easier than ever to self-publish online. Through blogging technology, you can publish text-based articles, videos, audio podcasts, images and presentations on your own website, as well as on social-media channels, in order to expand your visibility and credibility. Work to build a robust library of unique, personable and high-quality content that is accessible and relevant to your target markets 24/7 on your website. This will make it easier for you to be found by your target markets in search engines, on social-media sites and even in e-mail inboxes (for those who “opt-in” to your database). Don’t underestimate the power of publishing as the foundation of your digital strategy.
It is no secret that we are bombarded with information today. People have enough information. What they really want is knowledge. They want someone to sort through all that information and lead them to make good decisions. Part of creating a successful online presence is sharing the right knowledge (content) with the right people (members of your target markets). Ideally, a decent proportion of what you share online comes from content that you develop, but you can also build significant clout online by sharing content from other influencers and reputable websites or blogs. Activating your online presence through a consistent and systematic social-media-sharing strategy will help you expand your following and stay top-of-mind with your community.
You can invest in an amazing online presence and have outstanding content, but without a community, you won’t generate opportunities that can forward your personal and professional success. Focus on building your community online through search engines (web traffic), social media (networking) and your e-mail database. It is your community that ultimately will enable you to cultivate trusted connections who can become advocates for your business, referral sources, promotional partners and new clients. Invest in both the depth and breadth of your network.
As you cultivate your community via your online presence and activities, you will open up the door to engagement opportunities with others. This is professional networking as we know it in the traditional sense, but it’s online, easy and can accelerate relationship development. Building the community first gives you access and permission to engage with the members from within. It also allows you to gather intelligence about the individuals with whom you are connected. Engaging in influential networking activities based on personal knowledge about someone’s personal or work life is incredibly powerful. It can create an immediate warm relationship!
Optimizing your online presence is a continuing activity. Online marketing programs cannot be put on autopilot. The landscape changes rapidly and therefore you will need to be constantly updating and optimizing your online presence. Think about all the new features and updates you hear about from social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Just as you optimize client portfolios for risk/reward, you will want to do the same for your digital portfolio to make sure it’s working for you in the best way possible.
Luckily, some amazing and powerful digital tools are available that can give you great insight into how your digital strategy is working [such as Google Analytics]. A good number of these tools are free or low-cost. With digital tracking and marketing tools, you can gather data from your activities and re-balance your strategy from time to time as you learn what works well for you. You will need some time to gather that data and make sense of the results. However, it is quite powerful to be able to measure marketing performance, which is something that has never been available in the past.
Following this seven-step process will help you navigate the digital landscape and build a powerful online presence. Keep in mind that the results of your efforts will not be visible at first, but don’t worry — results will come over time. Think of your online presence as a long-term growth stock. If you consistently work to build it the right way, you will have a valuable asset in the end.
According to Connie Amidei, Chief Digital Strategist at AmiTec Digital, developing an effective digital strategy starts with planning and assessment. Your digital marketing strategies should focus on creating valuable content, while remaining consistent with your branding message and committing to interacting on social-sharing platforms.
Define Your Story All good campaigns have core messages. What is the story you are trying to tell, and more importantly, why should your audience care? Most nonprofits inherently have an emotional story to share, so it’s vital to figure out how it connects to the lives of the donors you are trying to reach. And, finally, know exactly how your story will elicit a response from your audience.
Platforms and Engagement Once you have your story you’ll want to think about how you will spread it. In other words, what social media networks will you use to engage and interact with your audience? To determine which mediums will be most effective in your digital strategy, you first have to consider who is most likely to be moved by your story and want to help your cause.
Consider this group of people in terms of age, lifestyle and geographic location. Which social platforms do they favor and what type of technology do they use to gain access to the Web? The more you know, the better able you’ll be to reach them.
Measure and Evaluate Success means constantly measuring and evaluating results. One way to help determine the effectiveness of your digital campaign is to use social listening tools such as Radian6 and TweetReach to gain insights into how your audience is interacting with your message. A little time spent on evaluation will save money and headaches down the road, and ensure every campaign gets the returns anticipated.
Mobile Options for Nonprofits There is a huge demand for mobile services from consumers and it isn’t solely directed at for-profits. Nonprofits must focus on incorporating mobile-friendly strategies into their marketing and fundraising campaigns. Technologies like SMS and text donations, mobile websites and apps allow nonprofits to extend their reach as well as their cause.
I have a consulting firm. It does great work. It’s a fun place to work. Growth, revenue, and new business wins are nothing more than a by-product of those two facts. Our approach to new business might seem a bit unconventional, but my team has asked me to share it anyway.
Don’t do it for the money.
I don’t know of a single creative person I respect who gets out of bed every morning to earn a paycheck. When things get tough, and that is the default mode in this business, particularly at this time, “the money” isn’t going to pull you through. Better to make a reasonable fee working on something you genuinely have passion for than to make tons on something you wouldn’t shed a tear over if it fell off the planet.
Don’t do it for the creative opportunity, either.
Sounds blasphemous coming from the owner of a creative firm, I know.
We’ve all done it, chasing work simply because it’s a “creative opportunity” is dangerous business. Those magic quoted words have a way of rendering all other ills invisible. Connie Amidei, Chief Digital Strategist
An exciting product and an innovative brand cannot begin to compensate for a passionless, clueless or flat-out lazy marketer.
Do it for the people.
The brand, category and product do not matter. The people across the table do. We need to feel a client’s passion and energy. We know that after they finish the meeting with us, they still have to run through the halls of their headquarters championing the work and fighting off critics. We cannot succeed without that ingredient. When deadlines feel overwhelming and production falls short of expectations, it helps to remember you are doing this because you believe in and care about the people you’re working for.
Chemistry and Client Vetting
Potential clients stroll into our offices for chemistry checks thinking they are doing all the checking. On the other side of the table, we are asking ourselves, Do we like these people enough to go into battle for them. Do we think their business model is sustainable? Have they made other changes in the organization necessary for success? Are they at all in denial? Do they understand what marketing can and cannot do? Is there going to be a key decision maker who is not present? The result is having the option to choose your clients.
Be so honest about their business, their thinking, and their assumptions that you put them back on their heels. A good client will appreciate the challenge providing it’s done in a thoughtful, earnest way. With a potentially awesome client, you will work toward a better solution quicker. A bad one will slip into inauthentic behaviors and stick their fingers back in their ears. This a critical juncture for choosing quality clients. Pay attention.
One Last Thing.
There is no substitute for brilliant strategic insights and result driven creative ideas. However, that is the easy part. Identifying people who will understand and appreciate it all is the challenge. Connie Amidei, Chief Digital Strategist
Connie has served as lead consultant and online strategist for over 450 interactive web development projects over the last 9 years, and continues to push the envelope with innovative ways to brand, market and promote organizations online.
Net Gain for Obama
President’s Online Supporters Pivotal to Pushing his Agenda
President Barack Obama’s top asset in promoting his agenda is not his Cabinet secretaries or aides, but rather his online network.
Obama’s political email list tops 13 million names, a digital force that the White House can tap to push for his legislation, tamp down critics or bolster popular support. It is also a way for Obama to reach into every state, every city and every neighborhood.
A study released last month found that a quarter of Obama voters said they would continue to work online to support the new administration. The nonpartisan Pew Internet and American Life Project also found 62 percent of Obama’s voters said they would ask others o support Obama’s policies.
Welcome to the Democrats’ new permanent campaign, one planned online and executed on Main Street.
“INTERNET: Legions of supporters can be rallied at the click of a mouse”
With a well thought out mobilization strategy in place, the White House will marshal hundreds of thousands of phone calls within hours if it looks as if the president were losing a policy battle. With the click of a keyboard, Obama’s aides could ask supporters to flood the phone lines of Congress, making it untenable to ignore the clamor.
Obama’s unmatched database gives his administration a clear advantage over its Republican rivals, who have seen decades of data mining overcome in a matter of months.
During past election cycles, campaign Web sites were little more than digital versions of their campaign pamphlets. During the last few elections, campaign strategists have turned to the Internet as a way to reach more voters, typically, the uninvolved or youth, and their donations. Now, Obama’s team is turning that strategy into governance.
Howard Dean’s primary campaign in 2004 brought together massive first time online support and donors, but that did not translate to real world votes. Similarly, John Edwards tried to mobilize his supporters in the name of national services ahead of his second presidential campaign; those single-issue voters wee not thee, however, when Activist Edwards became Candidate Edwards.
Obama, though, he has been the most successful so far. Obama’s online supporters raised over $500 million for him, created 2 million online profiles at MyBarackObama.com used his database to make phone calls during the campaign’s final days.
According to the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, 59 percent of all voters took part in the campaign online, whether it was sending e0mail, reading political blogs or researching candidates. Obama clearly had the advantage.
The Pew survey asked 2,254 adults about their internet usage and politics from Nov.20 to Dec 4. The margin of error in the overall sample is plus or minus 2 percentage points. Among the 1,591 Internet users, the margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
It has been a careful dance between Obama and his supporters. His aides have avoided bulk email and have tailored each message to its intended audience. For instance, Latinos and Hispanics who supported Obama received an email announcing Linda Sanchez would be co chair of Obama’s inauguration committee.
It is the only way to break though bulk emails that load voters inboxes, consultants say.
“I think we have seen them think critically about every single email that they send”, said Connie Amidei, an Internet Strategy Consultant who worked with Obama’s online campaign.
For decades, politicians have sought ways to harness public sentiment to outflank troublesome opponents, news organizations and rival interest groups. Obama’s network is a powerful weapon. Progressive organizations have joined the constituency management effort. MoveOn.org sent an email to some of its 4.2 million supporters asking them to get involved.
Obama’s strategy could send phone lines crashing within minutes of a declared protest. Similarly, the instant communication of the Internet and cellular phone text messages could end it just by typing one word: “Stop.”
That power gives Obama’s online advisers, the netroots a potentially bigger role than many of his cabinet picks and major hires in pushing through his agenda.
Since the election, millions of Obama voters have visited his transition Web site http://www.change.gov to discuss ways in which they can support strategies for change according to Pew. The day after the inauguration, Obama’s transitional site disappeared and replaced by launching his interactive presidential presence http://www.whitehouse.gov where his campaign for change continues to engage millions of new users daily.
What is it and should you care?
Web 2.0? More than just another buzzword…
Web 2.0 is one of those phrases which we’re hearing a lot about currently. Everybody is excited about it but do they really know what it is?
So what is it?
In the simplest terms it is the phrase being applied to ‘the second coming’ of the internet. Dot-com investors are partying like its 1999 and a number of pioneering online services are very much keeping that party exciting, getting everybody talking about the internet once more and its increasing relevance to our lives.
Well, web 2.0 is a bit of a catchall, which covers a broad range of new online services, user-generated content, communities and social networking tools. The most popular are sites such as Blogger, Flickr, MySpace, YouTube and Wikipedia and the Godfather of web 2.0 – Google. The phrase also refers to the creation of far greater levels of interactivity, not just between users, or between users and the internet but between complementary online services through mash-ups and web services.
So this is all consumer stuff – photo sharing and the like?
That’s where a lot of the energy is coming from and the services doing the early running have absolutely been focused on driving and exploiting end-user trends. However, the idea that the web is ‘where it’s at’ is not lost on big business. For example, web 2.0 covers ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) – companies are being told they no longer have to buy software but instead should access applications online. Many people aren’t yet ready to embrace that move but investors and advocates of SaaS are certainly convinced.
Where did the name come from?
The 2.0 name is a clear allusion to the naming convention of software updates – this is the internet version 2.0, get it? – which is slightly ironic given the revolution taking place in software as a service is not good news for traditional client/server software.
Why is that?
Well, to quote Marc Benioff, CEO of salesforce.com: “All of the action is in services. Web 2.0 is where the action is.” His company has embraced this move whole-heartedly, providing a portal for all manner of web 2.0 applications aimed at the enterprise – including online word processors and spreadsheets, (nobody said web 2.0 had to be limited to interesting, fun applications).
We are convinced that Web 2.0 should be a major consideration for businesses.
But should I care?
Absolutely! Two or three years ago there was a feeling that innovation online had failed to emerge from the doldrums of the dot-com boom and bust cycle and had hit something of a dead end but now innovation is arguably at its most frenetic level ever.
Never underestimate the effect the internet can have on our lives, now all we need is a browser and a broadband connection and there’s very little we can’t do.
Isn’t there a danger that mistakes will be repeated? We have been here before, haven’t we?
We certainly have seen an internet boom before and history has shown us that bust follows boom but there is some bedrock here. Of course, there are question marks over how YouTube will make money, for example – because great ideas and even popularity don’t pay the bills – and the next stage for the investors will be monetizing the excitement that surrounds web 2.0. Not every service, which launches under that banner, will survive but a great many will, probably though acquisition in many cases.
Acquisition by whom?
Well Google for starters; the internet giant is absolutely at the heart of web 2.0 and the ability to bring many of these services together to create vast interlinked content offerings will certainly appeal. For the enterprise and end-user, Google already offers a number of Office-style applications as a hosted offering. The company is also readying the finished version of its hosted email Exchange-offering.
The more, dare we say ‘interesting’ web 2.0 content will also appeal to Google as it puts ever more flesh on its content bones.
This Blog strives to provide you with valuable insight and practical tools for success.
We will offer an inside look at Web 2.0 Principles and Best Practices and lay out the answers—the why, what, who, and how of Web 2.0. Our dialog will serve as an indispensable resource for technology decision-makers—executives, product strategists, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders—who are ready to compete and prosper in today’s Web 2.0 world.
Web 2.0 is here today—and yet its vast, disruptive impact is just beginning. More than just the latest technology buzzword, it’s a transformative force that’s propelling companies across all industries towards a new way of doing business characterized by user participation, openness, and network effects.
What does Web 2.0 mean to your company and products? What are the risks and opportunities? What are the proven strategies for successfully capitalizing on these changes?
We will explore core patterns that are keys to understanding and navigating the Web 2.0 era and provide tools for hands-on self-assessment.
Our goal is to provide you with valuable insight and practical tools for success.