I received a phone call from one of my clients recently, unrelated to the website development project we were wrapping up the information architecture documentation for. My client is the Chief Marketing Officer of a product retailer and she wanted to know, if I were her, what kind of background I would look for in a new hire to head up the digital marketing efforts at her company? She admitted to me that there was no one currently on her staff who updated their current website's content, or directed the content strategy of the various blogs and social media handles that her team had acquired over the years. Despite many of the technologies and platforms associated with digital marketing that have existed for over a decade, her company has maintained their marketing efforts of running print and event-based campaigns, unchanged in their approach, for many years. Her team simply did not have the capacity or the knowledge-base to make the, "obvious leap into the digital space."

An Evolving Digital Space

As an Account Director at a digital marketing agency, I'm frequently confronted with this situation. My clients often understand that there is definite value in digital marketing, and will therefore engage agencies like Blue Fountain Media for a limited term to learn the ropes before looking to hire one person to handle the associated responsibilities in-house. For my clients who are just beginning their exploration of the digital space, the idea that digital marketing only consists of content creators and designers, and that only one person would be needed to run effective digital marketing campaigns is a completely understandable misconception. The role of the marketing generalist, like me or my CMO client, has changed significantly with the proliferation of new information-sharing technologies and the internet of things. The drastic increase in the amount of easily accessible information brought about the formation of new rules to govern how to organize that information online. New disciplines were created to think through, form, and improve upon best practices that give rise to the rules governing data sets. The marketing generalist is no longer simply conceptualizing the story for a scattershot campaign seeking a broad audience and passing over to a design team to execute. A team of experts is now responsible for the strategy development and implementation of the ideal multi-channel approach for any given campaign idea.

More Than Just a Website

Building a website is only a piece of the pie - and a website is useless if you don't do anything with it. Identifying what will resonate with a target audience is one thing, but how do you target this audience? How large should this audience be and where are they located? These are questions that should be answered before embarking on any marketing project. For many companies, finding and employing the correct balance of skills for internal team members to handle these tasks is simply not economically viable or savvy. Once you successfully connect with a target audience, what comes next? To answer that question, think of a time in your life when you moved to a new place where you did not know a single person. How much of your time, effort and capital was spent on forming your new social group? Were any resources ever wasted in this process? From the perspective bought with hindsight, could you ever quantify how much of those lost resources could have been saved if the first people that you met were a team of experts on this place - showing you, based on your personality traits, resources, goals and needs, the best course of actions to take to form your ideal social group? Digital marketing is similar to this process, just executed on a larger scale. Behind every audience demographic is a community of living, breathing, human connections waiting to occur. It's possible to form lasting relationships with many of these people, but these connections aren't made in one conversation.

Strengthening Your Digital Presence

When asked by my client, the CMO of a company confronted with the dual challenges of driving brand awareness and limited resources, what is the most effective way to enter the digital space - for me, it's a no-brainer. Engage with an agency partner that takes the time to get to know all of the peculiar ins-and-outs of your business and has the talent and technical knowledge to help you achieve your business and brand goals. If your future plans involve growing your customer base, can you afford not to? What are some of the ways your business broke into the digital space? How did you build a team to support your digital marketing efforts? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @BFMweb.

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