Building a Successful Digital Strategy

March 28, 2013

Steve Cummins will share his approach to the development of a digital marketing strategy at BMA-NJ’s second annual B2B Marketing Summit on April 9. His presentation, titled “The First 90 Days: How to Start a Digital Marketing Strategy,” will focus on lessons he learned at Panasonic and then re-learned when he joined Dittman Incentive Marketing as director-digital marketing earlier this year. “I’m currently at the end of my first 90 days, so you could say I’m living my presentation,” he writes.

Buzz: What do marketers need to accomplish in the first 90 days?

Steve Cummins: The first 90 days should be a combination of three elements. Understand the existing digital footprint, including website ranking and social network profiles. Decide on the best mix of digital platforms to achieve business goals. And educate key stakeholders, including management and colleagues, on the importance and utility of digital and how it can have impact relative to business [goals.]

Buzz: What are the core elements that marketers need to put in place?

Cummins: First, identify the primary digital platforms that will be the hub of the strategy, based on your initial analysis of customer behavior. You may choose to set up a blog as the primary vehicle, supported by Twitter, YouTube and Foursquare, and forgo a presence on Facebook if that's not central to your audience. Go where your customers go.

Define a set of metrics, including a solid benchmark against competitors in the industry and a way to easily track progress. Several good quality tools are available off the shelf to help with this. 

Ensure that internal resources are available to support the strategy. The implementation and maintenance of a solid digital strategy is time-consuming. Don't be afraid to look around the organization and find non-marketers to help. Anyone who is engaged with social media in their personal life may be a valuable ally in creating and maintaining the digital channels, and [they] also can act as a digital champion in other parts of the company.

Buzz: How did you build your track record and gain the support of your organization?

Cummins:  It's critical to set short-term achievable goals that are relevant to the stakeholder—and equally important to avoid window-dressing. A target to reach 1,000 Twitter followers may look good, but it doesn't connect to a useful business result. Target something tangible, such as a number of leads into the sales funnel or an increase in the redemption of an online offer. If you can demonstrate some quick wins, it gives you credibility to broaden the scope of the strategy.

Education and awareness are key. Show your sales team how to manage a LinkedIn profile. Run some lunch-and-learns on search engine optimization. Share articles on digital marketing with your colleagues, and highlight success stories. Once people understand that it's not all smoke and mirrors, they tend to take it more seriously.

Buzz: What advice do you offer business marketers who are developing their own digital marketing strategies, especially during that initial phase?

Cummins: There are so many options available when you first look at a digital strategy. Narrow your areas of focus. Start by managing one or two digital elements and then expand. And don't be swayed by consumer marketing trends. Facebook may be huge for B2C, but for many workplaces, Facebook is still blocked, so it's unlikely to be the best place to reach the purchasing manager or HR executive.

Finally—dare I say it—go to a BMA meeting and talk to your peers. You'll be amazed what you can learn from others who are going through the same growing pains.


"Building a Successful Digital Strategy." BMA Buzz. 3/28/13.