October 2, 2007

Online Marketing in four simple steps

SCOPE: The Strategy

What’s the use of running if you are not on the right road? (German Proverb)

Every marketing plan is (or should be) part of a strategy with clear vision, mission and objectives. In the case of E-Marketing there is no difference: a clear and well-defined strategy is the basis of a successful online presence.
This sounds quite logical to most people yet there is a difference between the strategy formulation and content in traditional marketing contexts and e-marketing. In traditional settings the strategy formulation is a top-down process, taking place in boardrooms, in regular mostly yearly strategic sessions, by and large focused on the long term. In the case of E-Marketing the strategic context is different: Market conditions change very rapidly, good strategies are relatively easy to be copied and maintaining competitive advantages in the long run is difficult, something recognized also by M. Porter.
Under such circumstances successful online corporations are those able to adapt quickly their online strategy to new conditions, constantly innovate and build / maintain short-term rather than long-term competitive advantages. This is a strategy I described in a 2004 research paper , consequently followed by the most successful online firms since the 90's.
It is obvious that the online strategic process is essentially different than the traditional strategic process: Short-term oriented, subject to continuous review and appraisal, frequently updated and in very close proximity to operations. This is the reason that SCOPE makes part of the Web Marketing Mix model as the first and basic component of it. In simple terms Scope refers to Strategy and Strategic Objectives online. The online strategy is (or should be for that matter) part of the total corporate strategy, if we deal with traditional companies operating also online.

Next to the “operational” nature of the online strategic process a legitimate question is what are the components of the online strategy? In a sense not much different than what we are used to as strategists (components 1 and 2) yet there is something new here (components 3 and 4) . The main issues to be addressed are:
1. Market Analysis: In what type of market we operate online? Main issues to be analyzed: Competition basis, competitors, market potential, market forecast and market trends
2. Potential Customer: Who is our potential customer? Main issues: Profile(s), motivation, (online) behavior, needs/desires and current way to fulfill the, priorities
3. Internal Analysis: To what degree is our organization ready for the web? Main Issues: Internal resources, processes and values. Is the Internet a sustaining or disruptive technology for our firm?
4. Strategic role of Web activities: What do we expect the Internet to do for us? Main Issue is the identification of the role of the web as part of our total marketing program. Generic roles are: Informational, Educational, Relational, Promotional, Transactional. In practice most firms engage the web in a combination of the generic functions.

Golden Rule: The Scope is subject to continuous review. The Online Strategy is a short-term Strategy

The four components in combination form the basis of the Internet presence i.e. the platform for creating a web site and the organization behind it.
Next week: The Internet Presence (SITE)

Details: The 4S Web Marketing Mix paper