Differentiate with Digital


Digital marketing, that is. Here’s the opportunity – if you’re in a tradition-bound industry, where doing things the traditional, non-digital marketing way has always closed plenty of orders/deals, adding digital marketing tactics to your mix can differentiate your company/firm from your competition. Makes sense; if no one else is doing it and you start doing it, you’ll be viewed apart from your competition.

Is Differentiation a Good Thing?

We’re all taught that not only is it a good thing, but it is also a necessary thing – a necessary precondition for success. We’re taught to “find a niche” to exploit; a refined section of the market that is underserved by existing participants in some manner. A marketer would differentiate themselves by advertising a greater or more intimate understanding of the needs of the niche.

But differentiation becomes a bit trickier in highly regulated industries, like financial services. Regulations seek to homogenize many aspects of the marketing message to limit (if not prohibit) some of the claims that a marketer can make. Potential customers/clients may respond negatively if the homogenized messaging is missing, presuming that may indicate some elevated level of risk. 

Even with the expectations of prospective customers/clients to hear the homogeneous messaging, there is still room to differentiate between competitors – we might more accurately refer to this as ‘contrasting’ to the competitors. If both (or all) of you seem undifferentiated from the customer’s perspective, contrasting the differences on what isn’t regulated is an option. The messaging is probably a little more subtle, and since prospects are listening for the homogenous message first, it might be more challenging to get the contrasting messaging through.

Is Digital the Only Way to Differentiate?

Not at all. Any traditional marketing tactic, like print and other media, can have their messaging or placement adjusted to pursue a niche. The sales force can be given new collateral, updated training, and maybe even all wear yellow shirts to differentiate from the competition. 

What About Lead Flow?

Good point. If we start shifting tactics and budgets, we run the risk of upsetting the current inbound lead flow process. Every marketing tactic we pursue should (barring some greater strategic shift) have the goal of incremental gains to the lead flow. Not only that but shifting these tactics can be time consuming to implement and expensive. And also, time consuming and expensive to revert if they don’t fulfill the forecast results. 

When Do We Talk About Digital Marketing?

Now. One of the significant benefits of implementing a digital marketing program is they are relatively inexpensive. Digital marketing programs work alongside your traditional marketing; augmenting lead-flow with digitally captured prospects. And digital marketing programs can be quickly amplified, adjusted, or refocused; no commercials to re-shoot or new shirts to buy for the sales force.

And, as previously mentioned, if you are using digital marketing in a tradition-bound industry, you’ll stand out merely by your digital presence. There’s the contrast with your competitors. And if you really do have a differentiator for your messaging – some more intimate understanding of the needs of the niche – digital marketing can connect your firm with digital-first, younger prospects that traditional methods might never uncover. Another net addition to lead flow.

Why Doesn’t Everyone Do It?

Frankly, some firms feel they don’t have to. Their traditional methods have worked well and created a nice business for a long time. Some think they don’t need to change, digital is just a fad, or digital is just too hard and will never become a part of their industry. Digital marketing does require an understanding of what its purpose is, how it works, and how long it will take. It is too easy for marketing agencies to oversell a digital marketing solution, and it’s too easy for a client to apply traditional measures of success to digital marketing programs.

What’s the Right Way to Evaluate Digital Marketing?

We think digital marketing should add to the lead flow (already said that), it should support the other marketing tactics (contribute to the mix), and help qualified leads move through the sales funnel more quickly. It should be clear by now we’re not talking about digital marketing for consumer products (maybe we should have said that up front). We’re talking about companies and industries like financial services (where we specialize) that have long sales cycles with high value services that require a personal connection and level of trust with the sales rep or advisor.

If this sounds like you, and you like what we’ve said so far, give us a call. We can tell you more.



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