I’m not the first person to tell you how the digital effect transformed a system of broadcasting into a system of engagement, converted boundary lines into empowerment zones, built two-way info bridges between organizations and customers, spawned partnerships between departments within a company, and effected the mutation of good old-fashioned media communications into “Informications.”
So, what about digital? Why the confusion and panic? Obviously, change first springs to mind: rapid technological change and its societal expansion, abrupt changes in occupational and organizational roles, and the need for a more collaborative environment at all levels of the business ecosystem.
How do we as marketers approach such disruption? We do it with the right balance of structure and flexibility. First, we apply flexibility by learning to go with the pitch and change our marketing perceptions to recognize the new and improved empowerment model that’s now shared. One in which we can participate in and benefit from, ultimately seeing the vast opportunities for all parties in the short and long run.
However, while we go with the pitch, we shouldn’t let the bat fly out of our hands by diving into a particular medium or technology just because everyone else is. This is where structure comes into play. We need to embrace our goals, objectives, research, intuition, and business mission. We need a digital marketing roadmap; an Informications roadmap, if you will.
Data, from someone’s birth date to how many units sold at full price, are vital elements of a roadmap. Effective business intelligence (BI) and online analytical processing functionality applies mathematical models and algorithms that combine, define, process, and present quality data, and transform the data into meaningful information and knowledge for quicker, better marketing decisions and results.
However, keep in mind that the risk of intrusive practices is particularly high in the relational marketing and web mining fields. Therefore, BI functionality must be ethical and respect the personal rights and privacy of the individual.
It’s here where a marketer builds and continually manages two-way info bridges with prospects and existing customers, while leading them to the knowledge stage and beyond. Within this digital infoscape, content “in motion” (conversations, blogs, tweets, forums, Facebook postings, etc.) is usually more valuable (and current) than stagnant, recorded content (brochures, data sheets, press releases, slide shows, etc.).
Being a major traffic intersection on the Informications roadmap, the information stage not only allows for what those on the tech side call “push” (organizational- and consumer-based publishing, online conversations, social befriending, relationship-building, etc.) and “pull” (access, search, QR codes, etc.), but also “capture” interfaces (consumers’ smart phone photos and videos, blog excerpts and tweets incorporated into online documents, scanning, etc.). This is where blending official company marketing content with high-quality social content and crowd sourcing can take place.
It’s no secret that one of the most powerful marketing effects is word of mouth, but marketers tend to focus too much on the short-term, dialog process. A major force to positively affect a marketer’s word-of-mouth profile requires a medium- to long-term plan — and it’s simple: excellent product and service quality with great customer service. Sometimes marketers need to let their product do the “talking,” with less trash talk before the game and excellent performance during it. In digital, customers do the real talking — and people listen.
If data represents a codification of single primary entities, and associated forms of information is the outcome of processing meaning for the marketing domain, then knowledge is someone perceiving this meaning clearly enough to make an intelligent decision.
In most cases, the prospect consciously deliberates about deciding one way or another, thinking about the process and product of their intuitive understanding, which feeds into and forms their knowledge. This kind of thinking is not calculative and cannot be captured in features or rules of analytical and information processing models.
Informications recognizes that people seeking knowledge by learning prefer concrete information, even gossip, speculation, and hearsay, versus abstract summary information from a business report or marketing brochure. Occasionally, if a person can afford the time (and the amount of information for knowledge), a decision will be put off until something is learned that leaves only one action that is intuitively compelling.
Marketers can take advantage of the digital world by presenting information in the form of realistic examples and simulations, even allowing prospects to test drive or solve problems by using products or services online or via trial downloads. Many important elements that influence a prospect to make favorable decisions for the marketer are situational, learned through examples and simulations, not from formal, global definitions in terms of context-free features. Enabling prospects to form their own observations and experiences, and allowing them to virtually acquire product skills is a powerful way to reinforce the knowledge stage for positive perceptions and confident, informed decisions.