I suck at chess. I thought we’d just get that out of the way up front. You see chess is a game of both strategy and tactics. Strategy deals with the longer term aims of the game, positional or material advantage for example, whilst tactics cover things like the short number of moves taken to capture a more valuable piece during an exchange.
Now the tactics are easy, I can handle that. Once you know the rules of how each piece moves around the board, formulating tactics based on that is pretty straight forward. It’s different with strategy though. A good chess strategy takes a lot of knowledge to formulate. It means studying the voluminous text on openings and end games and the like; and although I like the game, the cost of the time involved to study it far outweighs the benefit to me of knowing how to play well.
It turns out that being good at new media marketing is very similar to playing a game of chess. In other words… you can’t rely on tactics alone, you need a good strategy too. As an evangelist for DevExpress, I like to watch how other companies handle their new media marketing. Some of the companies I see flit from one new media tactic to another (from Facebook to Twitter to blogging etc) without any clear idea of what they want to achieve in any given area.
Much like chess however, formulating a good new media marketing strategy takes effort. You have to be confident that you know where you stand in your market in a virtual sense. This may not be be (and in fact probably wont be) the standing that you have in the real world. For example, in the real world, you may be a small company with a niche product in a much larger market, dwarfed by your competitors. However, in the virtual world, you may have many hundreds of vociferous customers who are incredibly passionate about your product and who blog and evangelise about it whenever and where ever they can.
Knowing where you currently stand in the market, you can then decide where it is that you want to take your product to. Having decided this, you can then workout the milestones along that path and these milestones can be reported against for auditing purposes.
Once these steps are completed you may feel that your new media marketing strategy is complete, but it’s not – what we’ve got is only half the story. No company succeeds in the virtual world alone, and your company probably has a traditional (or main stream) media strategy too. It would be counter productive if these two strategies were pulling in opposite directions. Having put together the bare bones of the new media strategy its then time to sit down and examine the MSM strategy and tweak each so that you end up with a holistic strategy that your marketing and evangelism teams can drive forward. Of course, in an ideal world, you would be able to formulate these plans in tandem but, in reality, you will most likely already have an existing MSM strategy; at least when you first come to formulate your new media strategy.
Only now, when you know where you are, where you want to get to, and how it will work with your MSM strategy is your new media strategy complete. Only once complete can you start to look at the tactics you are going to use to bring your strategy to fruition; Twitter for this thing, Facebook for that thing, wikis for the next thing.
There is an almost hidden benefit to ensuring you have a new media marketing strategy and that is that it helps you to monitor the impact of new media on your marketing effort. This is very important. Let’s imagine you don’t have any sort of strategy in your company for new media marketing (dumb I know but let’s imagine anyway 🙂 ) and your boss says to you “this Twitter is a waste of time, it’s for losers, it’s just noise”. Its going to be pretty hard for you to prove otherwise, cos we all know how hard it is to measure the ROI on social networks and the like. However, imagine that your company runs some sort of annual competition and until this year you’ve only publicised it via your MSM marketing outlets. This year your strategy says that you want to increase the entrants by 20% and, tactically, you’ve decided to use Twitter to spread the word. Once the final entrant numbers have been collected and you discount any increase caused by the tactics used by the MSM marketing team, you can then see exactly what the ROI of using Twitter is.
Okay, I’m going to end now, as I started, by imagining that chess was played like some companies do new media marketing. If it were, I think it would go something like this:
White: “Okay, I need to get into this chess thing. I want to start cautiously though as I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m going to move this pawn, way out here on the left, forward one square. Let’s see how that works out for me.”
Black: “Did you see that?! My competitor is in the game; I need to get in the game too, and fast. Okay, okay, what to do? Well he’s started off small, the pussy, so I have an opportunity to dominate here. I’m gonna move my knight right into the middle!”
White: “Holy Moly! He moved a knight! A knight I tell you! Knights must be the thing to move, not pawns. I’m moving my knight in there too, that’s what all the smart kids are doing!”
Black: “Yes, I was right! I knew it! He moved his knight too, knights must be the way forward in this game, everyone’s into knights at the moment, I better move my other knight too and not get left behind!”
If you know anything about chess, and even if you don’t, I’m sure you can see that a game played like this is sure to be a disaster. Don’t let your new media marketing effort end up like this. Get a strategy now.