Why Everyone Needs A Digital Media Strategy

by Alex Stetson

Whether you are selling umbrellas out of your home or medical equipment to every major hospital in the country, the failure of some businesses and the success of others relates directly to a company’s ability to adapt to a web-based world. It’s not presumptive to suggest that without a comprehensive digital strategy all businesses face an uphill battle. Harnessing the advantages of this tech tidal wave while understanding why and how it is superior to the way your business used to function, could be difference between bankruptcy and booming business.

Traditionally, companies followed a systematic, one-dimensional approach to establish a marketing campaign. This has been referred to by some authors as directional innovation and refers to the incremental changes to an existing strategy. Put simply, until the web came along ad agencies followed a typical path to delivering a strategy. First they developed a creative strategy to brand and position a company and then they located a media outlet with which to distribute the campaign. In the age of the web this approach is fundamentally backwards. The old approach assumes to many things. It assumes that the creative approach will work and that their choice of media channels will succeed. There are too many variables at play that can ultimately be detrimental to the paying client. What’s really scary is that this approach gives the client no other option than to trust in, and rely on, several intermediary agencies and proxy companies to promote their business and measure the outcome.

In the old world of advertising direct relationships between the client and the media channels are non-existent.   Marketing companies develop relationships with public media outlets, and traditionally receive a cut of the funds a client pays to advertise their business.  In this model, businesses must trust that the media source chosen by a marketing company is the best possible way to publicize their services or product. The business man is essentially at the mercy of the marketing man, since he selects the media source that will offer the largest profit cut, instead of the source that might best benefit the client’s sales objective. These relationships established between marketing firms and media outlets complicate this business model, and can ultimately compromise the client’s best interest.

The media sources in this traditional methodology are strictly one-way outlets—print and television ads, billboards, and the like. These forms of media don’t reveal whether a marketing technique is actually effective or just a waste of company cash.  Though the business can measure the number of sales that occurred when the campaign was launched, there is no way to confirm that one necessarily caused the other.  One-way media outlets can estimate the degree of exposure a particular campaign receives, but can’t measure how much of it actually influenced consumer sales.  This lack of data lets marketing and advertising agencies evade responsibility for failed campaigns.  What’s worse, the client’s financial loss is still always the marketing and advertising agency’s gain.

Today, the emergence of digital media companies offers clients recourse; new technology has disrupted the traditionally linear relationship between the client, marketing agency, advertising firm, and media outlet.  Two-way media has changed the face of consumer marketing, contributing new resources that have restructured the balance of power between each of the traditional players.  As a result, the current business model is now a dynamic, overlapping web with digital media rapidly coalescing at its core.
To put it simply, the internet has had a serious impact on how companies approach marketing today.  In an age where the web is more highly trafficked than any non-virtual location, older media sources such as print, billboards, and even television ads are becoming increasingly obsolete.  We turn to the internet for shopping, research, business and socializing; it’s no great surprise that advertising in this arena will achieve the most exposure for your business.

Beyond the sheer volume of the consumer audience that exists on the web, digital media companies have the technology and know-how to provide clients with extremely valuable information about how effectively your campaign has attracted consumers, who these consumers are, and if this attention has directly resulted in an increase in sales.  Digital media companies not only impart this invaluable consumer data to businesses, but are also held accountable for the measurable outcome of their services on product sales and consumer response.

The services and skills of individuals working in digital media are in increasingly high demand; marketing agencies are struggling to maintain clients as digital media companies are becoming full-service agencies, streamlining the traditional marketing process to a one-stop shop for clients.  Companies still relying on the traditional marketing process cannot sustain the pace established by competitors working under the digitalized system, who are developing closer relationships with other companies and online media sources, resulting in increased efficiency in terms of the speed of each transaction and the overall market outcome.  It’s been projected that by 2010, company expenditures on 2-way media sources will be at an all time high, (while one-way media will experience serious budget cuts,) with digital media leading the way at a one hundred percent increase in funding.

Within the past few years, social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In have become a cultural phenomenon; online networks have provided a wealth of information to companies regarding consumer preferences and feedback.  Essentially, the opportunity for businesses to interact so closely with consumers has provided a window for companies to find out what consumers want and then give it to them.  Social networking sites give consumers an interactive forum to discuss products and voice opinions, stimulating a self sustaining form of product promotion on a whole new scale. Studies have revealed that product referral and reliability is by far more important to consumers than advertising appeal; social networking has fostered a virtual environment that has given consumers a locale to discuss likes and dislikes. For companies, this chatter is all good, (even a portion of the consumer dialogue is negative,) because it continually provides them with a wealth of knowledge regarding how to improve products to encourage consumer brand loyalty and sustained enterprise.

Opposed to the old model wherein an advertising agency devises a slogan, digital media companies can create customize product branding that is rooted in analytic data gathered from each specific client; they collect information that ensures that the placement and branding of each product is aligned with a distinct target audience.  The popularity of certain brandings with specific consumers as well as the desirability of certain products with a particular audience—all of this information, gathered and interpreted via media gurus, is what has located digital media at the core of current and future business models.  An entire new spectrum of improvement is at work as analytics are attained and marketing techniques are concurrently revised; this allows companies to continue to hone in on precisely the best way to maximize product exposure and sales.

About Alex Stetson

Alex heads up Fresh Tilled Soil’s marketing efforts both on and off the web; she's dedicated to building and growing Fresh Tilled Soil's brand experience...