Friday, 21 August 2009

Rule #1: The king stay the king

Before something goes live on our website, someone within our organization has to give his final OK. In case of small changes, I can give the go-ahead myself; for more important things the OK has to come from above. But in my opinion there is just 1 relevant opinion on what you publish on your web, and that is the opinion of your customer.

It’s such a simple rule and it sounds like an obvious one. Your client is king. But for companies this is very easy to forget, also on the web. We as a company, we think product, we think competition, we think brand awareness and brand values, we think top-of mind. But we sometimes tend to forget it’s our client we need to keep in mind. And like I said in my previous post: marketing is like a game of chess and the client is king. Always. You get the king, you make the sale.

One of my heroes and content management expert, Gerry McGovern, always says ‘You are not your customer’. And right he is. Our websites are something that is used by our customers and that at any time should serve the interest of our customer.

So is the best website for your client also the best website for you company?

Good question, not an easy one to answer. In my opinion the best website for your client is indeed the best website for your brand. And this since there should not be such thing as ‘a best website for your brand’.
There are a lot of reasons for this. The most obvious reason of this might be control. Who’s in control on the web? Your client is in control on the web, not your company.
You can publish websites and banners as much as you want. If you don’t talk your customer’s talk, you wont get him to your website. Or he wont stay: he’s only 1 click away from leaving your site. The ‘Back’ button and the ‘Close Window’ cross are always there, just one click away. Keep that in mind. Is what you are doing relevant for your customer? Will he visit your website? Will he want to visit your site, also if you don’t pay him to do so? (By paying, I mean – getting paid visits via banners, prize draws, e-mailing). Will he stay or just leave right away?
Are you talking the language of your client on the internet? Are you relevant for your customer? He decides, he’s the king. It might sound trivial; it’s not.

In my previous post I put a picture of a scene of The Wire. In that scene chess is used as a metaphor to a drug dealers crew. A friend of mine replied that The Wire can be seen as metaphor for life – so also for on-line marketing.
If you’re on Spotify – listen here to what D’Angelo Barksdale has to say about the king in a chess game. The king stay tha king.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

If marketing were a game of chess, is the Internet a pawn, a rook or a queen?

Let’s say marketing is like a game of chess. To get your marketing right, you have an army of pieces: you have a queen, a couple of rooks, 2 bishops, 2 knights and some pawns. I'll explain you what these pieces mean.

The queen is your strongest piece. She can move around quickly, she can go almost anywhere, she get’s things done. Depending on what business you’re in or what company you are, your queen can mean different things. For some companies, the queen is Television Advertising. For a car-company television drives traffic to the dealerships. We know that. In our case, television can be seen as our marketing queen. For other companies, the queen can be the Pricing. Ryanair comes in mind. For McDonald’s, their marketing queen is probably Location. Obviously your Product can be your marketing queen. It’s the marketing tool that makes you strong, that differentiates you. It’s how you make your sale. To get an idea of what the marketing queen in your company is, have a look at the marketing budget, it will give you a pretty good indication.

A piece like the knight can be very useful. It can jump over other pieces and attacks in a not conventional line (the ‘7’ form – a move the queen can’t make). This sounds to me a bit like organizing an event for your company. You market your company in a non-conventional way, and it can get your message where other marketing tools can’t get. The problem with the knight is that it moves rather slow, and you need a different mindset to use it right. An event is normally for a pretty limited audience, and it tends to work on a longer time-scale.

Pieces like the bishop and the rook can mean different things in your marketing strategy: promotions, print advertising, packaging. What do they stand for in your marketing mix?

Pawns aren’t very powerful pieces. They can move just one way, and they are very vulnerable. But when the pawns reach the other side of the board, they get promoted and they turn into any other more powerful piece.
Internet was once a pawn. In a decade or so, it crossed the chess-board all the way to the other side. Internet isn’t a pawn anymore. Depending on which company you are, internet has turned into your marketing queen (your main tool), or it has become a rook (direct result for money with AdWords) or a knight (some surprising virals and actions in social media). For some companies, the pawn called ‘internet’ is still crossing the board. I’m sure that pawn will get to the other side and will get promoted to a more important piece.

And the king? I think the client is the king, and you want to get the king. When you have the king, the sale is made, the service is sold. The client is king, and he’s even more king on the web.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

My mission: design a strategy

What actually convinced me to start this blog was my manager who asked me to give a ‘new angle’ to our on-line strategy.

Don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but I work in on-line marketing for an automotive company in Spain. I deal a bit with everything, but most of my time I take care of content management and search. When I say ‘I deal a bit with everything’, I actually mean ‘I sometimes get lost in everything we do or try to do’. As an example I’ll try to explain how we organize our web-activities and you’ll see right away how you can get lost sometimes:

We currently run our web activities between a couple of departments in our organization. We have 3 agencies helping out: media, creative and digital. Our corporate site is hosted and developed in our European headquarters in Brussels, who get their work split between a marketing department and an IT unit. We do translations and local adaptations here in Spain, and we run and develop some local sites and applications from here, through our digital agency which gets support from our systems department for hosting.

Anybody still following?

Now if that quick introduction to how we run our web-operations went a bit too fast, then I completely understand. It’s not straight-forward at all, and many times this leads to confusion, misunderstanding, inefficient work. It just does and I’m sorry about this.

Organization is just 1 example of how difficult this job can be. I don’t believe that it’s actually a problematic issue for our company – everybody knows what to do and does a great job. Don’t get my wrong when I used this example. The point I want to make is that I (or anybody for that matter) can get lost some times.

So when my boss asked me to give a new angle to the overall on-line strategy, I started thinking. I got lost quite easily. So then I started writing things down a list – I ended up with an endless list of ‘important’ and ‘strategic’ topics. I tried drawing some structures, ideas, models. I didn’t get very far, it felt like I needed at least 1 more dimension: drawing in 2D just couldn’t express all what we are doing or what needs to be done. It had to be at least in 3D or even 4D!

So then this idea came: let me write it all down in a blog. Reading blogs have been helping me so much these years in finding answers to problems, and has inspired me very much … maybe writing one can make me organize everything that working internet means for me. In this blog I can organize what we’ve been doing, what I have seen around, people who have influenced me. Things I like, things I don’t like (and why). Things we should do, things we shouldn’t do. Things we try out and what the result is.

There it is: a means to an end. I write this blog to work on our on-line strategy. And in the long term I hope it will help me to learn, to test and to improve.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Let's get this party starting

There are 2 reasons why I write this blog.

First one is the obvious one. The one reason why maybe all blogs exist. A bit like keeping your CV updated, let's say.

The second reason is to learn. I work as an internet marketer and I like what I do. I hope that writing this blog will help me get better at doing what I do.

Of course there are other reasons. Maybe you like what I write, or maybe you learnt something. That would be great, but the 2 reasons mentioned above will do for me right now.

My name is Stefaan. This is my blog.