Business Planning and Marketing for a Digitally Connected and Mobile Market

By Steven D. Peterson, Peter E. Jaret, Barbara Findlay Schenck

Your marketing strategy needs to be a part of your business plan. The idea of marketing — the process through which you get and keep customers — is as old as commerce itself, but how you market to today’s screen-connected customers requires radical changes to long-standing tactics and approaches. As you prepare the marketing plan for your business, take today’s realities into account:

  • No matter the size, industry, or location of your business, it needs an online home base. If the people you’re trying to reach aren’t looking for your business online, those who influence them are. They expect to find and reach you on their computers and mobile devices.
  • Your website has to load quickly and show well on all screens — from smartphones to tablets to laptops to living room TVs — with buttons that even the fattest fingers can click to access customer-desired information. If your site doesn’t show well on all screens, plan to work on a redesign sooner than later.
  • Online or offline you have only seconds to seize the interest of those you’re trying to reach. In today’s instant-gratification society, a third of web users click away from slow-loading sites within five seconds. Two out of ten video viewers leave after ten seconds. And in face-to-face presentations, people decide in the first seven seconds whether they’re interested or bored. Grab attention quickly — or not at all.
  • Your customers don’t differentiate between whether they’re dealing with your business online or face-to-face. If your business has online and offline locations, they expect a consistent experience no matter how they reach you. For example, they expect your website to provide one-click phone call and location directions, and they expect online purchases to be serviced at your physical place of business.
  • Your online reputation can make or break your business. More people form opinions based on what they hear from friends or read online than from what they see or hear in business-produced messages. Monitor your online image by typing your business name into a search engine (use incognito or private browsing options so results aren’t skewed by your personal browsing history). If results are few, outdated, or less than impressive, get busy building a website and social media pages that people can find. Then, build links to your sites following the steps in the upcoming section on boosting online presence.
  • Marketing needs to pull people to your business. For decades, marketers pushed messages out, using ads and other one-way communications to interrupt consumers and urge them to take a specific action. Today, pull marketing rules. Pull marketing conveys immediately interesting, useful, entertaining, educational information that’s capable of drawing — pulling — people to your physical location or website — while prompting high-value consumer-to-consumer sharing of your messages as a welcome bonus.