Three common digital-marketer dilemmas, and how to face them

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Increasingly, digital marketers face targets over which their control can alternatively be absolute, or inexistent. They are left to answer to a set of KPIs, but those KPIs are set atop an intricate pyramid of organizational interdependence. For things to happen, other things also need to happen. Or not happen. Both internally and externally. Here are the three most common dilemmas digital marketers face, with suggestions on how to navigate them in the new year.


Wrong message; wrong audience


You’re saying the wrong things, or you’re saying them to the wrong people. Initial brand exercises are done, message matrixes drawn up, personas created, and a lot of assumptions wrap it all together. This is especially common in start-ups that haven’t had the chance to put ideas to the test. Beginner’s luck exists, but it shouldn’t be relied upon.

Similarly, an organisation may know its product enough to have already learnt of its audience, and have proven success with it. But products and audiences change, becoming misaligned with time. This is how it happens: what a company understands of its audience stops being true, and, consequently, their messaging no longer hits the mark. Tone deafness ensues. This may go under the radar initially, but not forever, and enough of an off-beat message will incite a strong reaction.

For digital marketers, this challenge must first be resolved internally. A marketer’s instinct may not be valued for much at the decision-making table; you can make the prognosis, but it’s cold, hard numbers that will ultimately convince. Community feedback should be continuous. It does not necessarily need to be based on a product, either. Feedback can be directly or indirectly related to the company or brand; their social or their website. It is a conversation had in messages, polls, and metrics, and is a window into who your audience is that should be kept open.


The product hasn’t yet arrived, but your KPI targets have


In our last blog piece, we discussed the disparities between product and product marketing. An idea is sold of a product or a technology, and value is pinned to possibility. Consequently, initial marketing efforts are centred upon promoting this possibility; marketing clears the space for a product to land.

This is often a Catch 22, however: the lack of a product inhibits the ability to market the idea behind the product. If there’s no basis to work from, then the task becomes to capture the audience’s imagination. A realistic strategy acknowledges that the time before the product release is one of foundation building, tantamount to the collection of firewood; you’re preparing for results, but cannot yet expect them. You’re building for future growth, the success of which manifests over many months, even years. Often, marketers are expected to deliver early efforts; long-term strategies can be hard sells precisely because they require an act of faith, a block-by-block building of something that cannot be easily measured.

There are tools to navigate this. Brand sentiment analysis will allow you to monitor the changing response to your brand or product. Reactions, media mentions, impressions. These can all indicate the success of pre-product marketing. Outside of that, the key is to set expectations, and remain part of the conversation when KPIs are being specified.


Audiences are savvier

Strategies are made yearly for a reason. Audiences change. Technologies change. What is surprising and wonderful one day is tedious and unwelcome the next. Consumers are becoming more ad adverse; they’re adding solutions to block them at their source. They’re ignoring them. And while ads can help sell products, they can also damage brands.

The places they consume content are always changing, as well as the types of content that are being consumed. Not all brands can find equal success on, say, TikTok. There’s a demographic to consider, and then there’s how a type of content reflects on the brand. The platform and the form of content must be revised with each new strategy. What works for another will not necessarily work for you; and it’s important to consider the evolution of your brand – the direction you’re headed in, the ideal audience you’re wanting to reach – whilst making these decisions. Short-form doesn’t work for all, and neither does long-form. The form must only reflect identity, to be cohesive and consistent. Change as necessary, but in gentle movements. Anything abrupt will be felt.

Audiences know the tricks. Marketing and branding, once a mystery to most, is something we’re acutely aware of. We’re practitioners of them from an early age. Many can see when a company is compromising their identity for new audiences, and naturally can feel spurned or rejected. Or, simply, they no longer recognise the brand or product, and their engagement drops off.

Audience savviness is far-reaching, and it must be recognised during strategy creation. If you’re going to make a change, know the risks.

Luckily, digital marketers are also growing savvier. More agile, and more responsive to the vagaries of their audiences. For help avoiding these dilemmas, or on creating new impactful strategies, please contact us today.

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