By Sharon A.M. MacLean who invites your comments following this blog. You can also find more modern marketing strategies for business here.
There’s confusion in the new social office. And the boss thinks all SEO is spam.
Employers are assigning new responsibilities for online marketing to professionals not trained in social media…to sales representatives who hate writing content…and to younger administrators expected to know how to make friends in the networks because of their age.
There’s more to keeping up with pithy comments in the online world. The real quest is to determine beforehand which channels suit you best, set up relevant tracking sytems, and influence conversations that already are talking about your brand. Did anyone hear the word “strategy”?
Here’s 4 key questions to ask yourself:
- Have you answered the “why” of your communications?
- How much do you know about your audiences?
- Are you being realistic about the ability to manage strategic initiatives?
- What are realistic expectations for what you hope to accomplish?
Once you’ve answered the above questions, concentrate on these next 4 areas.
- Appraisal: Evaluate core communications for clarity and consistency across each channel you’ve researched. Of course, communicating by email is not the same as posting or networking on Twitter and LinkedIn. Be prepared to change styles for each platform.
- Capacity: Determine resources such as knowledge of leadership, staff and partners to to reach for success.
- Delivery cycle: Integrate online activities with offline happenings. I often discover that my clients have been hosting or attending offline events that are not coordinated with their online activities. These are missed opportunities.
- Leadership: Confirm that leadership is on board with strategies and the delivery cycle to ensure the plan has support.
Which level of skill applies to you?
There are 5 levels of performance where each level represents higher categories of know-how.
Level One: Ad Hoc – Un-coordinated, unassigned, no resources
An ad hoc communications practice is not coordinated, assigned or organized; no resources are allocated for results. Success is based on the competence and efforts of the business owner and one or two staff. Yet, these informal and often seemingly chaotic practices can be quite successful. The questions become:
- How much more successful might you be if you were intentional in planning, coordinating and managing strategic communications?
- Could you be more cost effective, provide more quality and quantity with intentional practices over time among staff, partners, sectors and supporters?
Level Two: Planned – Deliberate/managed, resources allocated, assigned responsibilities
The practice is planned and deliberate as opposed to being spontaneous, reactive or on an “as needed” basis. Resources are allocated to the practice, responsibilities are assigned, and the process is managed. Activities do not occur regularly, however, and may still be performed by one or two individuals.
Level Three: Identified process – Regularly performed
Level three practices are a routine part of the “fabric.” The business has determined their ideal ways to approach formal communications; practices are well known and coordinated within the business and among partners, sectors and supporters.
Level Four: Evaluated – Progress tracked
Communications results are evaluated. Measures of performance and progress are collected and analyzed. Often a quantitative understanding of success is known and tracked, and the business has a better ability to predict or estimate outcomes.
Level Five: Optimized – Continuous improvement
Distinctions between levels one and two are based on the degree to which a company is reactive and disorganized (level one) versus purposeful and proactive (level two). At level three, the practice is performed regularly, consistently across channels, and has been performed enough that the organization has gained a certain level of proficiency at it.
At level four, the business has committed to tracking communications to better understand how to improve performance. The business is monitoring the quality of the practice. Level five demonstrates an even higher level of commitment to the practice as the company is committed to improving performance over time.
These 5 levels describe how prepared your company is to deliver on a communications marketing plan. It may be that you need to revisit the basics or take a refresher course.
SEO, by the way, means search engine optimization.The practice improves search engine rankings for content to help you find new customers faster.
Lifelong communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine for over 21 years for business people. She is certified in Integrated Online Strategies from the University of San Francisco and the Instant Customer Mastery Certified Professional Program