Principles Strategy

My digital marketing principles

These principles are a work in progress. I’m trying to work out what I think about when it comes to digital marketing. That means that the reasoning behind them will not always be fluent and that this page will never be finished.

Long term over the short term. Always.

I have a serious problem with short term thinking and acting. It will always keep you hopping from fire to fire as your tactics will stop working sooner than you think. 

The only reason to chose short term tactics is to enable you to work on long term goals. You need to build credibility. You need to sell what you have in stock to build revenue to buy more. Reasons like these are the only ones that I would priorities over long term gains. 

Short term tactics are hard to quit. They are more addictive than cigarettes. Stakeholders are too reluctant to give them up. Even when a switch in focus would be far more profitable.

When everyone zigs: You zag!

This is what most companies get wrong. They see everyone jump on one fad, and then conclude that they too must have it. This is faulty reasoning. The objective of marketing is to distinguish yourself from the competition: copying them is the exact opposite of what you ought to do.

Take the digital marketing sector as an example. It would seem to me that the easiest way to distinguish yourself as a digital agency these days is to proclaim yourself to be not data-driven

This does mean that you would need to present a credible alternative. It’s not enough to be the opposite. You need to show how your solution is better.

Digital marketing focuses too much on numbers

Data is a problem in our sector. Everything we do is easy to measure, and easy to visualise. This abundance of data allows us to think that simply gathering more of it will solve all of our problems. Big data. Small data. Algorithms. Micro conversions. List size. Quality and relevance scores.

The problem is that the people we need to reach aren’t acting as those averages we calculate. There hasn’t been a single person in the history of the internet that saw 2.4 pages during their visit. Not one who added 1.7 products to their cart. 

All this data skews our perception of reality and conveniently allows us to forget that we are dealing with people. Human beings aren’t easy to measure. We aren’t taking our decisions rationally: we take them emotionally. More on non-data-driven marketing.

Hard truth: Nobody wants to buy your stuff. They don’t care.

Despite that abundance of data, we don’t focus enough on what people want. As the old saying goes: People don’t want a half a cm drill. They want a half a cm hole in the wall. 

That’s why I’m a big believer in empathy maps. They allow us to build on all that data and connect it on a human level. To identify what pain points someone is trying to correct, and what gains we can offer them. 

Stop being clever: Focus on the basics

We think of ourselves as oh so clever, and yet we hardly ever think. We’re always on the lookout for the latest Facebook gizmo, the new Google Ads headline with 30 instead of 25 characters that we don’t think about the basics.

Our main focus ought to be: Inspiring someone who needs our products or services to take action. Consistently. With or without fads.

I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I rarely get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.

Jeff Bezos

Price is less important than value

Price is never the obstacle we think it is if the story to justify it — the value — is good enough. As human beings we know that something can be very expensive in price, and very cheap in value at the same time. 

Lowering prices is an easy way to increase value. But is that the right way? It eats at your margins and enters you in a race to the bottom. I’ve found that fixing the perceived value is a better way. It keeps margins up and allows people to tell themselves a story on why they deserve your product.

But Tim, that’s just a lot of boloney. Everyone looks at price at some time. If that’s the case: why is Apple selling a phone with last years Android features for 1.700 Euro? It’s because the value they sell greatly outweighs the price. Steer clear of the commodity trap. 

Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do

Let’s start with deciding what not to do, which is just as important as deciding what to do. If you’re a luxury brand there is no reason for you to do discounts. If you’re a reseller of products you didn’t create: don’t sell on Bol or Amazon. 

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