Posts on CMO

14 Digital Imperatives for 2014

Posted on 01/01/2014

Slide1Welcome to 2014! This is the year to go “all-in” with digital marketing both as a marketing executive and for your company. As the saying goes, you can’t learn to swim if you don’t get in the water so let’s dive in.

Here are 14 things to do in 2014 – some are for your personal brand as it reflects on your company and some are for your company overall:

  • 1. Claim some LinkedIn Limelight. LinkedIn is your virtual resume, your professional credential and a key part of your personal brand that reflects directly on your company. Spiff it up, add presentations, recommendations, etc. to showcase your amazing talents.
  • 2. Go SEO yourself. Google your name and various combinations of your name, title and company. What do you find? Is this the brand you want others to see? Your search results plus your LinkedIn profile are your digital calling card as an executive so time to craft a good showing.
  • 3. Give a Tweet about Twitter.  Set up your personal profile, add some lists and get active. Really, there are no more excuse on this one.
  • 4. Get Some Digital Cred. Just like you check your credit score regularly (if not, that’s another resolution list), check your digital influence score with sites like Klout, Kred and others. They are directional but often used as screens by media and analysts for credibility.
  • 5. Measure, Monitor, Modify. Take a look at your company’s metrics and related monitoring processes and modify as needed for your current business landscape and goals. If this gets out of sync, you’re set up for a potential customer service or other digital disaster.
  • 6. Do a Social Media Check-up.  Social media trends, best practices and related laws move quickly and your policies should be updated frequently. Make sure you have good legal support here too, especially if your company operates in multiple countries. Need help? Read Cheryl Burgess and Mark Burgess’ book The Social Employee – it’s a great book.
  • 7. Clean out the Content Closet. When was the last time you did a sweeping archive of your corporate website? Many companies have years of old content, microsites and other orphaned landing pages clogging up user experience and search results. domain name tech info . Time to archive.
  • 8. Build Communities… for Real. Every CMO or marketing executive worries about press, analyst, media coverage, etc. Do you manage these influential people as a community? Do you engage them or react to them? Digital marketing can help you build more meaningful and collaborative relationships here. For inspiration, read Ted Rubin and Kathryn Rose’s book Return on Relationship
  • 9. Break Bread with your CIO. Get out of the office on a regular basis and go have a meal. Talk. Discuss strategy and trends. Get past the mutual functional frustrations and create some joint-wins. Best case you’ll have some fantastic results in 2014. Worst case you’ll have several good meals, so basically you can’t lose.
  • 10. Smile and Engage. Pick an executive professional network or charitable organization (why not both?) you love and jump in. Go to the events. Talk to people. Follow on social media. Be inspired. Be helpful. Make a difference.
  • 11. Clear the Mental Cobwebs. Go to at least one event this year, or better yet two, that forces you to talk to people you don’t know and to think about things in new ways. Some great events to try are: SXSW, iStrategy, LeWeb
  • 12. Squirm and Grow. Pilot a few new channels, new media formats or new storytelling styles with your branded content. Video, mobile, Snapchat… take a look at the broad landscape of opportunity. Yes, this will make your company squirm but trying new things, thoughtfully and strategically, makes a brand healthier. Just make sure you have goals up front, monitoring in place and a deliberate way to incorporate insights back in to your brand strategy.
  • 13. Read Online and Share. If for some reason you don’t already own an iPad or Kindle go buy one. Download the apps for your favorite publications or create a web folder of Daily Reads with links to some great sites. Read and share what you like on Twitter (see #3 above). It’s easy, just click on the Twitter share icon and you’re done. You can often share on LinkedIn too.
  • 14. Inspire Your Team. A team is only as good as its leader enables it to be. So be grateful for the people who make your company great; set big, bold goals then get out of the way and let them do their magic; be a champion for new learning; foster talent for today and tomorrow. You can follow some inspirational people online as well. Try @LollyDaskal and @MeghanMBiro on Twitter and on LinkedIn you can follow all sorts of thought leaders from Richard Branson to Deepak Chopra.

Here’s to a great 2014!  #14for2014

Decisiveness is the Cure for Data Overload

Posted on 12/02/2013

binary data Executives today are bombarded with data… big data, small data, trend reports, real-time monitoring… there is no escape.  Increasingly you hear people say things like “the data says…” or “the data concludes that…” Data is very helpful in making decisions but data cannot make the decision for you. We should not attribute human characteristics to data – data is numbers and numbers don’t talk or draw conclusions, people do. Are we losing the ability to make decisions rapidly and decisively by over-relying on data?

Being decisive has always been a critical executive skill and today a CMO needs to be decisive like never before. CMOs are getting more comfortable with the barrage of data coming their way but this new state of data overload requires shifts in how we make decisions. You need to decide what you need to know to make your decision so you can clear out the clutter. You have to ask yourself (and train your organization to do the same):

 

What is critical to know to make this decision?

What is helpful to know, but not required to make this decision?

What clouds the picture and should be ignored?

Where is the information you need?

Who can help with insights on the data or decision itself? 

Having a good network makes being decisive easier. You likely know someone who has faced a similar decision and who can give you his or her point of view. I love to ask these people what are the three things they wish someone had told them before they made this decision. The answers are insightful and insights that you won’t find in the data itself. In the avalanche of digital information, don’t ignore one of the most tried and true ways to clear your head and make a decision – go talk to people.

Of course sometimes you have to go with gut feel and make a decision because you’re either out of time to collect the critical information or the cost to get that information outweighs the benefit of delaying an answer. Knowing where you made necessary trade-offs in critical information will let you know where you may need to watch for fallout afterwards. Your network can help you here as well with where to look for potential issues or hidden benefits.

Being decisive takes practice so challenge yourself to be decisive on a few things each and every day. Leverage your network to help and pay it forward to help others. The peace of mind of decisiveness is much better than the stress of indecisiveness both for you and your organization.

Meet the Ultimate Digital Team

Posted on 10/02/2013

madman-mathman

I love my day job running the digital organization for a large and well respected brand, Accenture. Often I’m asked about the changing role of the CMO and the rise of the new kid on the C-suite block, the Chief Digital Officer or CDO. This usually leads to a conversation on what skills make up a good digital organization. Today, you need a very different set of talent versus a few years ago.. You need a mix of generations, of men and women, of different life experiences and languages. You need people who see the world from any number of different points of view and who wake up every day curious as to what the world can and will do next. Beyond that, for a great digital team you need:

The Creative Mastermind: People who can dream up all kinds of ideas, but mostly who can dream up amazing and engaging experiences. Whether you are reaching consumers or businesses is irrelevant – you’re reaching people. These folks don’t just think outside the box, they won’t be bound by even the existence of the box.

The Data Guru: These people are happiest living in the big sand box of big data. Nothing gets them more jazzed than terabytes of data to elegantly organize in agile, fast databases accessed through the romance language of data, the query.

The Foundational Analyst: They are the data guru’s best friends. These people who don’t just see a bunch of numbers, but rather see trends, see spots where there should be trends but aren’t. They are always asking “what would happen if we sliced the data like this…”

The Integration Maven: If the creative mastermind dreams up amazing possibilities, the integration mavens sew together these dreams into pragmatic, compelling real world experiences. They artfully create ways to surround an audience with information, conversation and a reason to continually engage.

The Amplification Ninja: They are the day-traders of data, the ones who can see the small and large opportunities flying by in the world of real-time analytics and immediately engage to grow your results. They are very good at amplification plans, but don’t expect them to only go by the plan. Their secret sauce is knowing when and how to tweak plans in real time; to look for the opportunities and go for it.

The Big Thinker: These individuals have the gift of making the seemingly impossible possible. They live out on the edge of what will be next, shaping new ideas, programs, channels, experiences, partnerships, you name it. Big Thinkers are your masterminds of market differentiation.

The Conversationalist: The human voice of your brand, the emotional connectors, the story-tellers, the empathizers… conversationalists bring to life the story of your company, products, customers and employees and most importantly they share these stories and look for new ones as well.

The Travel Guide: Able to create multitudes of unique journeys in a single campaign, your travel guides let your customers feel like they are getting unique, personally relevant engagement without breaking the marketing bank. They know how to build, scale and tailor programs and campaigns to deliver on results that feed the big data beast.

If you lead a marketing organization and especially if your mix is heavily digital, you need a new blend of creative and quantitative skills – you need the mad-men plus math-men dream team. If you can find these skills mixed with the other characteristics mentioned above you’ll not only create fantastic results, you’re guaranteed to learn a lot and have a bunch of fun along the way.

You Are the Captain of Your Digital Destiny

Posted on 07/07/2013

At least a few times a week; someone asks me how to outsource his or her digital footprint. I find these conversations hilarious. Imagine sending someone else to a cocktail party to act and engage as you? Or what if you sent someone else to impersonate you in a major business negotiation without telling the other parties? Most people find these ideas absurd because outsourcing yourself does not work in real life and it does not work in your digital life either.

Outsourcing yourself in the digital world gives the appearance that you:

–  Have no real personality so why would anyone want to connect with you anyway

–  Are not very bright so you have to rely on others for the intelligent things to say or clever comebacks so again, why would someone connect with you

–  Are exceedingly high maintenance and no one likes to hang with a diva / divo for very long 

Odds are you are not an international superstar so it is time to make peace with the fact that building a great digital footprint is important to your current and future success.  And like all things critical to your success, it means you have to dive in and make it happen. Yes, you do in fact have to be the captain of your digital destiny.

Work on getting the basics right. I wrote a post titled SEO Yourself that is a good, general digital plan. For your social media presence you should aim for the following as general rules of thumb:

Name It and Claim It:

LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook should be your foundational profiles. Fill in your profiles completely and then for Facebook decide if you want that to be more personally social or broadly social and set your privacy settings accordingly. Add other channels that are fun or important to your goals such as Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Vine, YouTube and so on.

No One Likes a Real or Digital Snob:

Do not be LinkedIn snob and require people to enter your email address to send an invite to connect with you. If you do, you’ll look like you’re not serious and only have a profile “for show”. Ditto with having an “about me” profile description on any social media channel that is written in the third person. Unless you are channeling your inner Bob Dole and refer to yourself in the third person in real life, speak in first person in all your social profiles.

Connect with Yourself to Connect with Others:

Cross-link your profiles so people can find you more easily and learn about you without always having to bounce out for a Google search. Use the same picture on your core social media sites and make sure the photo is of you and looks like you.  A photo on a social media site should enable someone to recognize you at an event and have a meaningful conversation with you so please no dog or baby photos as profile pics. Hire a professional photographer and look like a real, put together person.

To Be Interesting, Be Interested:

A senior executive at a major global corporation once said to me “Katrina, I think to be interesting you must first be interested, do you agree?” Of course I did and had not heard something so crucial be worded so succinctly – it is now one of my favorite quotes. So be interested – read, follow people, learn. As Diane Sawyer says… wake up curious every day. Then think, comment, engage, let your ideas and personality come through and you will be interesting as a result.

Creating a great digital footprint for yourself is both fun and crucial. So dive in and make it happen. Look for mentors and tools to help and be the captain of your digital destiny.  See you online!

 

 

100% of Plans Are Wrong

Posted on 06/08/2013

Yes it’s true. 100% of the plans you make whether at work, planning your career or anything else are wrong. Why? Because no one can foresee the future with 100% accuracy and since all plans are forward looking they are always wrong. The question is how wrong and how right and how will you know which is which?

I was fortunate to learn this lesson very early in my career. I was working at GE on a very large project that would land in front of the CEO (Jack Welch at the time). After a few 80 hour weeks, my manager and I were going through the last review prior to sending it up the chain. We went through it and all seemed good. Then I’ll never forget what my manager did next. He pushed the project summary back across the table at me and said “Katrina, what is the one thing you know is always true about every plan?” Being entirely too tired for riddles, I said I wasn’t sure and was frankly a little too tired to guess well. My manager replied “They are all wrong – every single one.” Snapshot the first moment in my career that I nearly burst into tears – I’d worked my you-know-what off for weeks and now the plan is WRONG?!?

Keeping my calm, I asked what exactly was wrong. The answer was this – “Nothing is wrong with the plan itself. But plans are forward looking and no one can predict the future with 100% certainty. Some of the most successful business endeavors occur because people are watching in real time; keeping an eye on the market, on customers, on the competition, on the world. So tell me how you will provide a radar to the world in this plan and what are the sign posts that will trigger a shift in the plan and then you can call the plan both complete and well done.”

So I did and the plan went up the chain to very positive feedback and impact. And I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my career. You only know what you know in this moment. The world is not a static place. So if you don’t have a radar to adjust to the world around you, prepare yourself to either achieve success through luck or make your own good fortune by moving in tandem with and sometimes ahead of the world around you.

Yes the radar matters. It matters a lot. A good radar is a mix of data analytics, qualitative experience, related experience from other industries, sectors or customer segments and good old fashioned gut-feel. This combination has served me very well over my career – it is some of that rare, timeless advice. I’m very thankful to my manager at the time at GE as he taught me this and many other things about business on a global scale.

So the next time you’re building a plan remember that it is wrong, not because you don’t know what you’re doing, but because all plans are wrong. So build your radar and don’t rest on your laurels. Enjoy the success that results – it will be amazing!

You’re Never At the First Meeting

Posted on 04/14/2013

You’re never at the first meeting.

You’re never at the second meeting.

You’re rarely at the third meeting.

In fact, you may not be at several more meetings.

Then, if all these previous meetings go well, you are invited to meet with a potential customer. How can this be? Because your potential customers are meeting your company, brand, products, other clients and even your employees digitally long before they actually meet you in person.

Consider these statistics from Explore B2B:

93% of B2B purchases begin with an Internet search.

Sales reps used to get involved with a prospect about 30% of the way through the sales process. Now the sales rep gets involved when the prospect is 70% through the sales process.

And these statistics from SiriusDecisions which found that most C-level executives rely on general perceptions and influence of others (essentially word-of-mouth, usually delivered digitally) the vast majority of the time in validating purchase decisions. In fact, the combination of brand perceptions without previous brand experience; customer references and testimonials; and internal or external colleagues opinions account for the following amount of influence in the purchase process:

CFOs   67%    Chief Financial Officers

CSOs   64%    Chief Sales Officers

CEOs   54%    Chief Executive Officers

CMOs  50%    Chief Marketing Officers

CIOs    47%    Chief Information Officers / Chief Technology Officers CTOs

It should be noted that CIOs and CMOs seemed least likely to try a vendor they had not used before, hence the lower impact of non-brand generated influence.

The simple math shows that all brands need to actively manage their digital presence, engage in digital conversations to understand and steer influence or perceptions and recognize that they are dealing with far more informed prospects than ever before.

This is a big challenge for CMOs who often receive the brunt of the impact from this shift. CMOs need a solid relationship with their CIO so that monitoring, measurement and engagement technologies can be put in place. CMOs also need a new mix of talent in their organizations as the traditional push-marketing or advertising has been replaced by conversational marketing and engagement over time but build positive influence. The ripple effects in brand positioning, messaging and campaign design are huge. This also means CMOs need to be aware that influence plays a larger role in how their peers, and their boss, will interpret the effectiveness of a CMO’s strategy than perhaps the CMO realized.

CMOs in fact have to place the digital presence of their company, brand and products at the forefront of their marketing strategy. This is the only way to make sure those first series of meetings do in fact go well so you get invited to a real meeting down the line.

So You Say You’re A Chief Digital Officer…

Posted on 03/09/2013

I recently attended a first-of-its-kind conference for Chief Digital Officers. It was a very worthwhile event and if they do another, I will definitely attend and recommend it to others as well. This post includes some observations I made during the event. I hope you enjoy it. 

So what is a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) anyway?

While a rare few hold the actual CDO title, many of us have roles that are essentially that – being the strategists, stewards, champions, educators and just-get-it-done leaders of all that is digital in business. It was an enlightening and funny conversation around the room as to what exactly each of our jobs entailed.

The mix of focus in the CDO roles of those attending was quite varied, but seemed to align with the progression of digital understanding and adoption of the company where each of us worked. All the companies represented were over the initial fear of digital and at least recognized the need to adapt. From there it was a wide open array of what the job was and how well the company embraced and empowered the CDO as a change agent.

Who are these rare creatures, CDOs, and where are they?

From research by David Mathison of @BeTheMedia and Chadick Ellig, 54% of CDOs are 40-49 years old and 80% of them are men. Most commonly cited qualities of a CDO include: strategic, committed, do-er, relationship-builder, leader, entrepreneurial, and innovative. Essentially the most successful CDOs were mentally elastic – thinking big picture, operational execution and building relationships inside their company and outside to get things done.

Not surprisingly most CDOs are on the east coast with a center of gravity around NYC and the west coast, primarily in various hubs of California. Since much of US business is coastal and the need for people with a technology understanding in the CDO job, the locations made sense. 90% of CDOs were hired into their role in the last 2-5 years and trends show that over 25% of enterprises will have a CDO by 2015. Similar to the rapid growth of CMOs, the CDO role seems poised to be the next executive career path opportunity for people and companies looking to take a leadership position in their industry.

Critical Skills and Challenges Faced by CDOs:

Many of the panel speakers alluded to both the skills they found critical for success as a CDO and the biggest challenges faced in the role.  Needless to say these are connected. The biggest challenges faced by those in the CDO role included:

  • Culture Change – all across their organizations. Often cited as an ongoing endeavor.
  • Constant Education – helping people inside and outside their organization understand the digital realm and opportunities. A big part of this involved understanding where various people were in their understanding and comfort level with digital, then helping them take steps or leaps forward.
  • Effectiveness – demonstrating meaningful impact or effectiveness in the role. This was viewed as a challenge as many companies thought they wanted more change, only to realize they weren’t quite ready for all that. Being effective in role meant creating new performance indicators that were often a blend of hardcore metrics and milestones involving change management.
  • Change Management – being disruptive while staying true to the roots of the company or brand. Since many CDOs were new to the company they joined as a CDO, understanding decision-making and appetite for change was critical to success. For in-house hires, they understood the decision making process but often faced some “why on earth would you want this job?!?” thinking and push back on their strategies and plans.

Critical skills mentioned by the various panelists centered on things needed to overcome these challenges effectively, efficiently and in a way that sill allowed them to enjoy their jobs. Loosely summarized these skills came down to:

  • Diplomacy
  • A good BS filter
  • Adaptability to deal with a whole variety of people, situations and personalities throughout a day
  • Love of the business they were in. Being great at digital requires a deep appreciation for what makes the company great overall and bringing that to light through digital opportunities.
  • Comfort with technology, data and qualitative information all at the same time. Many CDOs seem to be very left-brain / right-brain balanced people and thrive in situations that let them use that talent.

 

That’s the high level view of a day that was packed with great information, interesting people and fantastic networking. Many thanks to David Mathison, Janice Ellig, Thomson Reuters for hosting the event and Deanna Zandt and the Lux Digital team for the digital coverage.

 

Happy New Year and May All Your Pins Come True!

Posted on 12/30/2012

It’s nearly 2013 and time for my annual ritual of making my vision board for the coming year. I love doing this. It helps me crystalize my goals and sanity check values. A vision board is a visualization of what you would like to be, do, have, feel or accomplish in the coming year.

Never being one for the arts and crafts version (too messy, paper everywhere and I’m limited by the magazines on hand), I’ve always done a digital board. I’d fire up PowerPoint and snip away on a variety of websites to build my board.

This year I decided to try making my vision board on Pinterest. I created a private board (sorry, no super secret scoop on me here) and went to work. Overall, I really enjoyed it and it works very well. Give it a try for yourself. Here’s some tips to get you rolling:

  • Decide if you want to make a public board or a secret board. Secret boards are only visible to you; regular boards are viewable and searchable by anyone. This is entirely a personal choice, but decide when you set up your board because you can’t change it later. On your board page, if you scroll down, you’ll see the place to add secret boards.
  • Download the Pinterest plugin before you start. If you haven’t already, download the plugin which allows you to pin from any site. Many sites do have a Pin It button, but not all do so the plugin makes it very easy to pin the image you want.
  • Use the image search function in Google or Bing.  This is very helpful to find images related to emotions or states of being. Want to stay in your Zen zone this year? Or would you like to take a fantastic vacation to an exotic location? You’ll find some great images that are easy to pin by searching on key words and clicking the image results option.
  • Bookmark interesting sites you find along the way. One of the best things about making a Pinterest vision board is you end up with bookmarks to great information or inspiring sites as you go. All useful as you go on the journey of making your vision a reality.
  • Pin personal pictures or items easily. Pinterest has a function that allows you to upload a Pin from your computer. This is great if you want to add a photo of your family, friends or vacation spot or anything else that is important to you.
  • Add comments to yourself on why this pin is important to your vision. I love that Pinterest allows you to essentially add notes to yourself for each pin. As an example, I pinned a great photo related to being in a state of gratitude. I added a vision note to myself for the pin that said “Be always in a state of gratitude for life’s amazing blessings” as a reminder for why the photo struck me and how it related to my vision for living in a state of gratitude each day.
  • Your Pinterest vision board is always with you. A Pinterest vision board can go with you anywhere – to work, out and about, at home, anywhere you are.  So I can bring up my vision board on my phone, iPad, PC or anything connected to the Internet to check in on my progress or refresh my memory of my vision or adjust my board as needed.

This was a fun and enlightening project and I hope you will enjoy it as well. Please share your Pinterest vision board tips and tricks here too. If you’d like to follow other topics by me on Pinterest, you can find me at Katrina Klier.

Happy New Year and may all your Pins come true!

Hash Tag Hijacking… Say No to Black Hat Tactics

Posted on 10/22/2012

I was at PubCon last week which is a very good show. It’s a geeks’ geek show about SEO and social media and a great place to network for new ideas. That said, one presentation really took me aback. A representative of an agency (name intentionally left out) did a “best practice” type presentation on hash tag hijacking. I was appalled.

For those of you unfamiliar with some of the black hat social media tactics, hash tag hijacking is like a repeated photo-bomb on a twitter hash tag, usually associated with a company or brand event. In the example presented, the agency represented a company that competed with one of Salesforce.com’s products. Salesforce was having an event and of course, being very active in social media, the company had set up some hash tags so people could follow along in person or virtually. Hash tags for events are a common and very good tactic. The agency in  question built a white paper on why their client’s product was better than Salesforce’s with a side by side comparison then proceeded to highly promote the download of the whitepaper by leveraging the hash tag from the event essentially hijacking the purpose and audience connected with the hash tag.

Did they get lots of impressions – yes.

Did they potentially get a lot of downloads – possibly yes.

Did they create a positive and lasting brand connection – doubtful.

Did the agency alienate some prospective clients – absolutely, me included.

Many forget that in social media the world is watching… always. There is no place to hide so HOW you engage is as important as WHAT you engage about. I’m a big advocate for organic social media growth because social media is about engagement, connections and conversations which are not quick hit things. If you want to buy impressions use more traditional media like TV, print or banner ads, not social media.

True there is a lot of debate about the time required to build organic growth in social media and the trade off of the stickiness of organic growth (usually stickier) vs the hit and miss of other tactics. If you want 10,000 Twitter followers very quickly, there are tools and services to do that but it’s a body count, not a quality community result. Like growth hormones in meat, you get nice fat chickens in a few days but the long term health effects of eating that chicken are not good. Black hat social media is the artificial growth hormone of communities and they won’t stay healthy very long. Do you really want your brand associated with that?

As a CMO and CEO it’s important to understand these tactics so you can ask good questions of your agencies and not end up in a situation you’ll later regret. Also, you’ll want to include guidance about hash tag hijacking in your employee social media policies so no one (with all good intentions for sure – people are proud of the products / services they make) decides to have some “fun” at the expense of your broader branding strategy.

So skip the hash tag hijack and earn your connections the old fashion way – by building value and connection. Your connections may be fewer in number, but they will be huge advocates for your brand and over time be some of your best customer recruiters possible.

Remember, the world is watching… always. Make sure you leave behind the brand impression you want.

CMO, How Does Your Digital Garden Grow?

Posted on 09/28/2012

Having typically inherited a brand with existing marketing efforts, building a digital footprint and then growing it is new territory for most CMOs. Let’s use an analogy for how to build a digital center of excellence in an existing company. The analogy is gardening. Yes, gardening because it has many of the same elements of growth and sustainability as digital marketing.

Here’s what you need for an excellent digital garden.

Soil: The business environment you operate in

Soil is the marketing elements and fundamentals plus the internal perception about them. You inherited a website that may be depleted of vital nutrients in the form of stale content or low repeat visitors. You may have rocks to dig out in the form of executives not fully on board with a push to digital. Or you may have some clay to break up in the form of skeptics who with a little more information can become a vital part of your digital soil. Take stock, note the nutrients you need to build a rich digital soil. Make a plan, work the plan.

Sunshine: The brand perception or range of actions you want to drive via digital

Sunshine varies by time of year, just like a brand perception changes through sales seasonality and product cycles. You need to understand the sunshine you are working with and how much sunshine your audiences want/need so you can plant content accordingly. Are you trying to really turn the tide and improve your brand value, then you need a lot of sunshine or a mix of broad and then audience-specifically deep digital engagement. Again, take stock and be specific. Digital allows you to mix a range of activities through very targeted efforts so use that to an advantage.

Plants: The content

Most people’s favorite part of gardening is selecting and planting the plants themselves. This is how your garden comes to life. Content is the planting of your digital garden. To have a year-round digital garden you need an editorial calendar that spans the seasons and is audience specific. Leave the air cover marketing to TV and perhaps the home page of your website. This is about being on the ground since air cover only works if it is tethered to something of value people can grab on to. That TV ad for beautiful roses doesn’t mean you can clip them now for a bouquet. So, what types of content and in what structure resonate most with your audience? Do they want roses to smell and give as a gift aka content to read and share?  Or vegetables to eat aka downloadable content and resources? Perhaps they want both. Do the research, test, plan, execute, taste/measure, iterate.

Water: Marketing your digital presence

Water brings nourishment to plants much like the promotion of your digital efforts brings visitors, viewers, fans and advocates to your digital content. So Tweeting that your new thought leadership article is available for download brings water to those who may be thirsty for this information. Water often and in proportion to what the content needs. The delivery is also important – do you need a sprinkler like Twitter? Or a watering can like Facebook? Or a drip system like email, RSS and newsletter subscribers? Not all plants need the same amount of water just like all content doesn’t need the same type of promotion. Test, measure, tweak and help your plants / content grow.

Tending: Weeding out the bad and adding more of the good.

Yes, you’ll need to pull some weeds in your digital garden. Weeds in the form of negative feedback to manage with a little weed spray or plants that are being unruly and need to be pulled like content that isn’t performing as needed. You’ll also need to turn the soil a bit by keeping your internal stakeholders informed and measuring the nutrient level through a variety of metrics so your digital garden stays healthy and enjoyable for your audiences.

You can add digital gravitas to any brand, just like you can plant a garden. You just need to understand the soil, sunshine, plants, water and how to tend your garden so your audiences can enjoy it over and over. Happy gardening!