Why Mindset is Important for SMB Digital Marketing
Article sponsored by Steve Brennan, CEO, Bespoke
For over two decades, I have worked with over 1,000 small business owners, marketing directors and marketing managers to help them organize their digital strategies. At that time, as explained in my book, Build Your Marketing Strategy: The Mindsets and Methods of Companies That Dominate Their Online Industry, I noticed five mindsets among the people we meet. Achieving what best describes their business approach often seems like a highlight for inside marketers, and one that helps them recognize the changes they want to make.
The lottery mindset
The lottery mindset is to want to participate in the game: you can’t win if you don’t have a ticket, can you? We meet a lot of people who have literally tried every marketing tactic they have heard of, who change direction frequently, without mastering any channel or tactics. When it comes to marketing, they have shiny object syndrome.
When we launched our digital agency in 2001, almost everyone who contacted us had a lottery mindset. We expected them to, because just having their business visible online was a step in the right direction and basically everyone has to start somewhere.
But today, almost two decades later, many still exhibit that mentality. They want to spend money on X or Y because they heard it was going to be important, or because they heard someone else was doing it. Likewise, they’re closed to certain digital tactics because they haven’t worked once before, or because they’ve heard someone say they don’t. Lottery mindset is about rolling the dice and taking risks for a chance to win.
Sometimes those with the lottery spirit are lucky and win for a while, but more strategic approaches always outsmart them in the end, and they inevitably end up looking for a more structured approach.
The state of mind of the agency
When a business’s first attempts at digital marketing fail and its owners see others gaining ground, their first reaction is to seek help. Common ports of call are local digital agencies that appear in web searches for “websites”, “digital marketing”, “SEO business” and more. It is often a leap of faith and most companies do not get their first agency date correctly and many try to find the right agency partner several times.
But the agency’s mindset appears to be a step forward as it at least offers the possibility of good results for a period of time, and that means there has been some acceptance that digital is important. for the company. When appointing an agency, there is often a factor of well-being and optimism about what can be achieved. There may even be monthly visits to the agency’s smart offices and that feels good for a while too.
The problem with the agency mindset is that companies often choose a mismatched agency or don’t know how to effectively engage with the agency. They see the agency as a supplier who should just deliver rather than a partner who should be part of their business.
This approach often leads to disappointment and loss of confidence in the agency’s approach, which is why a different approach is sought.
The DIY mindset
As a business gains an understanding of digital marketing by working with agencies, contractors, and freelancers, and when it hears about new developments in digital, the business often asks, “Don’t shouldn’t we just hire someone and do it all in-house? This is the DIY mindset.
But many companies don’t have the experience to hire, train, organize, or retain the best digital marketers in-house, and often the best digital marketers don’t normally want to work in smaller digital teams. Thus, the DIY mindset often does not lead to immediate improvement in success, as the spread of skills and cross-sector experience that an agency brings is replaced by a narrower internal skill set. Energy is also changing – external suppliers are always motivated by contract renewals, but internal staff are not.
Building internal teams is often a steep learning curve and requires a few attempts to be successful. While this process is often expensive, it certainly helps a business gain a better understanding of what a deep, balanced, long-term approach to digital marketing looks like.
The strategic mindset
The strategic mindset is the structured approach where a company’s approach to digital marketing has matured. The first step in the strategic mindset is to assess:
• what is the most important goal of marketing?
• who is the ideal client?
• what is the value proposition?
• Are the right digital assets in place to support marketing?
• what are the key tactics (and which can we stop)?
A key indicator of a business with the Strategy Mindset is that the digital strategy is published in the same way as the larger business plan. The company knows who needs to be around the table each month when results are released and tactics are reviewed. The objectives are common to internal and external stakeholders, all of whom are experts in their field, and there is direct accountability. Leadership and ownership are clear, and all parties working for the company are fully invested in nurturing strong, long-term relationships, with in-depth industry and product knowledge.
There is a fifth and final mindset which is a level beyond the strategy mindset and is only accessible to those who have practiced the strategy mindset for a few. years. It’s called ‘Mastery of Mind’ and less than one in ten marketers we meet in our digital agency job has it.
The mastery mindset occurs when the strategy mindset is so ingrained in a business that it has become second nature. The digital team achieves predictable success almost on autopilot – there’s an unconscious skill. The company knows how to run different types of campaigns, even for a new product or service, and can report to senior management with near certainty on possible results regardless of future marketing goals.
In organizations with a mastery mindset, the weekly activity involves keeping skills up to date by attending training programs, attending events, planning new campaigns, or recruiting specific expertise to help in areas where a need for skills or resources is identified or anticipated. Team leaders with a mastery mindset are invited to speak at events or train others. They are respected in their field.
The best digital marketers aspire to work for companies with a mastery mindset because it allows them to learn best practices first-hand, and they can more easily contribute to the success of the organization and thus advance their own careers. A business of any size can achieve the mastery mindset in time, but it can only do so after it has successfully practiced the strategy mindset for a few years.
The first step in moving into the strategic mindset is to recognize how your marketing is currently working. Which of the five states of mind best describes your current approach