The role of marketing is changing. We are moving towards a world where branding, new business development and digitalization are merging into one. At least the three operate in the same realm, and are closely interconnected.
The first challenge is to find the right people to work with. There are very few people in their forties who understand both analogue business processes and digital business opportunities. A simple way of looking at digitalization is that it’s about ”combining local skills with global opportunities”.
We have to be able to interpret different organization models and crystallize the essentials. I’ll give it a try:
1. New business is about new opportunities in the digital space. Entering new market areas, managing innovations, creating user groups for R&D, establishing communities for marketing, launching new products, and creating new business models. The digital business platform is the most cost effective and dynamic, and the easiest to operate. New business segments, market areas or services should be created through venturing models, operated on digital business platforms, and created in social media environments. We have to take a holistic approach to the digital arena, and see it as an amplifier for our new business initiatives.
2. New business is won most effectively with the best branding. Marketing in the digital era becomes all about content. As soon as companies are able to ”open up” – i.e. become more transparent and start sharing their information in earlier stages of their product life cycles – they start becoming more attractive. We shouldn’t just think of marketing as pushing messages through different communication channels. We should think of branding that combines our behavior and stakeholder interaction with co-evolution oriented business processes. That’s tough. Only companies that share huge amounts of information (not just advertising but truly engaging content) are interesting to their customers. Only those get meaningful visibility on the web. You can’t start small. If you do, you’ll be invisible.
3. Integrate digitalization thoroughly into your organization, your ideology and all operations. The problem is that most companies see the digital arena as merely separate communication channels. They’re missing the fact that it’s actually an entire market place for innovation management and new product development. That it’s an interactive community. You need a ”Chief Digitalization Officer” function to transform your business processes to fit the digital era. Digital becomes the new reality. Our ”Digital Atlantis” is a place that operates with entirely new rules. Combine your existing business models with ”everything digital”. Operating in the digital world is as different from doing business the traditional way, as is scuba diving from walking on dry land. They are two completely different ecosystems. You need to understand the digital ecosystem, and truly harness it’s full potential to support your existing business model. That’s how you create a winning business strategy.
This is not an easy task, that’s for sure – and it might take you months, even years to fully grasp it. But you have to start NOW. There is no right time to jump in, and you can’t do it half way. You’re either immersed in the ecosystem for real, or not at all. Don’t fool yourself.
Remember that digitalization is something that functions all around you. Your approach needs to be holistic and strategic. If you don’t see the big picture, you won’t be able to choose the right opportunities. And yes, evolving will also require some failures. Not all your ideas might be good. But the only way to learn is by trying. It might take you a thousand days to implement and make your new methods fully functional. But don’t fool around. Your goal is to come up with the right strategy, the one that is truly ”digitally immersed”. Start now.