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March 11, 2014

IABC Indy's Digital Marketing Town Hall

March 11, 2014

A few weeks back I sat on a “Digital Marketing Town Hall” panel produced by the Indianapolis chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) with fellow marketing whizzes Brian Wyrick (Raidious) and Nathan Zarse (Xiik).

Nathan Zarse
Nathan Zarse

Dan Fahrner
Dan Fahrner

Brian Wyrick
Brian Wyrick

It was a complete treat mainly due to the engaged audience, which was a mix of folks just getting started and also several specialists in the digital realm. Great questions were asked, good times had, and cookies were eaten. However, by the time we wrapped up I felt we were still just peeling the first layer off of the digital onion. This blog post is meant to serve as both a recap and an opportunity to include answers to questions that were not asked.

Below you’ll find some of the questions with paraphrased answers. If you attended the event and didn’t get to ask a question, please ask it here!

1. Digital marketing has become a broad area that evolves daily. What are some of the latest trends you’re seeing in digital technology that are most relevant for communicators?

Both Brian Wyrick and I had a similar revelation in answering this question. As of late we’ve seen clients come to our respective agencies with complicated tools and software that is going either under or completely un-utilized. We’ve also seen many larger organizations with fragmented digital marketing efforts, operating out of harmony. At SmallBox we often call this the “digital ecosystem” and when channels aren’t talking to each other, results can easily fall flat. The takeaway for me is that the implementation of powerful software needs to begin with a strategic approach: consider how these tools fit within the marketing life-cycle for your audience, and set a timetable and goals in order to measure success.

2. How do you continue to innovate in an industry that is evolving so constantly?

The best example of constant innovation I have personally experienced is a concept coined by Jeb Banner called “quarantined disruption.” Twice each year, SmallBox takes an entire week off of client work to focus on our own toolbox: defining and honing processes, strategic planning, building digital tools and much, MUCH more. We call this Factory Week. This is disruptive in that the entire company moves out of its comfort zone for a week and puts the brakes on our weekly task list, yet we consider it healthy since it is “quarantined” to the weeks we’ve chosen (as opposed to cramming these projects into each month). The outcome has typically been a united team with a sense of purpose and satisfaction from the amount of work accomplished.

3. What are some of the top things you believe organizations should evaluate when developing a digital marketing strategy?

Integrating the entire organization within a marketing strategy is at the absolute top of my list. At the core of this idea is the concept of “brand ambassadors”, which are typically employees on the front lines that carry the brand into every interaction with customers. How can the entire team play a role in creating content and interacting via social media? This can include providing answers to common questions asked via customer service and sales meetings, or simply promoting content via their personal social channels like Twitter and LinkedIN. Just like in music, an orchestra playing in harmony has a much stronger voice than a soloist.

4. How should you use digital marketing differently when focusing on existing customers versus attracting new customers?

I love the question because it points to a huge opportunity in digital marketing: building a true community with your customers. Easier said than done, but the result is an engaged customer base that advocates for your organization (referrals) and brings new ideas to the table (increased sales). This can look different for every business, but I’ll give a few examples on how SmallBox focuses on building community with our clients:

  • Monthly events such as a lunch & learn we call “Box Lunch” and open Beer Friday.
  • Customer-centric content and email newsletter. Constant education is critical.
  • Random “nicings” such as beer deliveries on Friday afternoons.

Many thanks to my co-panelists, the IABC and the attendees for an awesome event. Don’t hesitate to ask a question here if these thoughts spark something magical!

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