Monday, January 14, 2008

B-to-B Online and Interactive Marketing - Cutting Through the Hype

Online advertising, social networking, search engine marketing (SEM), Internet broadcasting, wikis, Web 2.0 … what do these terms mean for your marketing strategy? How do you harness the power of this new medium without straying from your current strategy? The new and constantly changing digital marketplace represents great opportunity for your marketing organization and your company; however, many tech marketers are off to some operational false starts in this area. I recently completed a study of the online and interactive marketing area and related processes of 15+ tech marketing leaders. This included in-depth interviews with marketers as well as spending a full day with ~20 leading tech marketers discussing these issues as part of an IDC Marketing Operations Board meeting. Here is some key insight and guidance based upon this research:

  • Consolidate online and interactive marketing efforts from a process, infrastructure, and governance perspective, yet continue collaborating with business units (BUs) and the field (e.g., integrated marketing councils). The resulting benefits will include greater branding and messaging consistency and improved efficiency and effectiveness across your marketing organization, enabling you to do more with less.
  • Incorporate online and interactive marketing efforts as part of broader awareness-building and demand-generation strategies, but think "engagement" and longer-term relationship building — not just generating a lead.
  • Don't hesitate to experiment; build it into your plan. Changes are happening fast in the digital marketplace, and those companies that are able to quickly identify and harness the benefits of the best technologies and applications will be first to achieve competitive differentiation. After all, shouldn't technology companies be first to demonstrate thought leadership in this space?
  • Marketing must partner and collaborate with IT, something that marketing hasn't historically been good at. Leverage your strong marketing operations team and other process people in the organization to develop a longer-term IT strategy for the marketing organization, and team with IT to provide the foundation for a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.
  • Don't abandon your more traditional marketing knowledge and experience! Just as in the real world, you can build it online, but that doesn't mean that they'll come.

Feel free to email me at mgerard@idc.com if you'd like some additional information about this study or post any questions/comments directly to this blog.

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