Never Travel Alone: Choose Key Passengers to Bring Along

You have a destination in mind. You have the tools you need in place. Now it’s time to decide who to bring along with you on this journey. And by “who,” I mean those people that are your brand champions, the people that want your business to succeed and will help it do so. These people fall into three main categories: 1) employees, 2) customers, 3) partners. And you need to consider them in that specific order. Let’s go through each category and figure out how to attract and retain the best of each:

Employees:

Employees are the backbone of your business. If you surround yourself and your brand with honesty, integrity and innovation, you will be a step closer to success. Therefore, hiring the right people who have specific talents to help you achieve your business goals is imperative when planning your digital strategy. For the sake of brevity, I’m not offering tips on hiring people in general, but those that will be working in your brand’s digital space. These include community managers, account analysts, data analysts, IT professionals and media planners/buyers. These are the folks that need to be well-versed in the digital sphere in order to move your brand forward. The following key characteristics are a “need to have” for the aforementioned roles:

1. A capacity to learn quickly

This is one of those things that employees know to say in interviews. Put their “I’m a quick learner” claim to the test by asking them to share a specific product, tool or process they had to learn quickly and how they were able to use this tool to execute a task. The digital space is constantly changing and it requires a level of thinking that is highly adaptable. In addition, many of the skills necessary to be a successful digital marketer are essentially brand new and require a “test it and figure it out” mentality.

2. Great communication skills

This skill is needed for basically every industry, but can be very important in digital as well. Think of it this way: Twitter allows you 140 characters to tell your story. Facebook ads have even fewer characters. It is important that your employees know how to communicate clearly and concisely with each other, clients and with customers.

3. Concrete understanding of your business goals

When I say “concrete,” I don’t mean memorizing the business’s mission statement. Goals must be written on a sheet in the forefront of their minds. It will help them make better business decisions every single day, and will help them communicate your brand’s message in real terms in everyday conversations.

Customers:

You may want to bring these guys along for your roadtrip, seeing as how they will be the ones to provide revenue. But you need to truly get a handle on your customer. It’s imperative that you target the most engaged people and the most likely to convert. Here are a few things to help you decide who your ideal customer is and what actions you’d like them to take:

1. Social network

Leveraging others’ networks is a huge part of social media marketing. Brand loyalists are much more likely to share information and positive feedback about your brand, and it helps if their network is vast to extend the reach of your products and services.

2. Targeted messaging

To find the right customer base (ie: the ones that will not only purchase from you, but will also be a brand advocate), you must know who your target audience is. You can conduct social research, test user experience on your website and simply administer surveys. All of these practices (and many more) will help you understand exactly who needs your product/service and how to tailor messaging directly to them across all of your digital channels.

3. Conversion optimization

Just like you don’t like traffic jams, your customer doesn’t want to hit a roadblock when on your site or researching your brand online. So if you have a broken link in a paid search ad or stale content on your site, or bad product images, you are hurting the consumer experience. Therefore, you must be constantly testing your site to be sure that the conversion funnel is clear and without hiccups. This will ensure that a customer, once reaching your site, has a good idea of what actions you want them to perform, and it is easy for them to take those actions.

Partners:

Partners may not be at your top-of-mind when thinking of who to bring on your road to digital success, but they can make all the difference. Just like having the appropriate research and tools at your fingertips can ease your journey, having the right partners can enrich the experience.

1. Leverage your community–and theirs

Whether you’re talking about peers, industry advocates or just your digital agency, it’s important to leverage your community across all channels. Having partners that know about your unique challenges can help you make better business decisions. In fact, having an Advisory Board comprised of people who care about your brand and want to help it succeed can be a great way to expand your network and reach. Also, they may stop you from making a wrong turn.

2. Bettering your community

Having partners does not always have to directly impact your day-to-day business decisions. Instead, partners could also mean other companies that wish to participate in the same charities, outreach or advocacy as your company does. Aligning your brand with other companies that are making a difference can be a great way to impact your business and your community.

3. Press affiliations

Successful companies share their wins, innovations and time with the public. Sharing your wealth of knowledge is easy with public relations and press outreach. Align your business with notable publications (online and offline) to make sure your message is accurately and positively spread. Keep in mind that some of the best ways to reach people are through digital publications like blogs and news aggregates.

All of these people have to come with you on your digital journey or it will be a failure. While you have to remain open to inevitable change in the industry, you also have to be able to rely on your employees, customers and partners to achieve what could be. Finding the right people with whom to make the trip ensures your brand’s future in the digital space. Have any other suggestions for important people and how to find them? Leave them in the comments!

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