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This vendor is solving a problem--no sunglasses. (Image via Wikipedia)

The problem with digital marketing is that of itself it doesn’t solve anything. Without proper planning and identifying goals and objectives, digital marketing is just burning money.

The solution isn’t “We need to be on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.” The solution starts with identifying the business problem you need to solve. A business problem is a living, breathing entity with a mind all its own, and your desired outcome is dependent upon the perceptions and habits of real human beings. As such, problems need to be treated as unique individuals.

  • Do you need to own organic search for your vertical?
  • Do you need to manage negative sentiment?
  • Do you need to increase conversions?

All these come down to winning hearts and minds, but the approaches and platforms required by each are quite different. Without proper strategic planning you’re herding cats.

Ask the best salesperson you know, and they’ll tell you when they really started making money was the day they stopped selling and started helping people solve problems.

Problem solving sounds like a lot of work, and it is. But there are some simple principles you can employ as you develop your strategy that can help.

First, ask yourself if the problem you’ve identified is the right problem to solve. You may look at your e-commerce website’s lackluster conversion numbers and decide that the problem is with your pricing. But before you set about cost-cutting measures to drive down prices, start by looking at the website itself. Is there a clear, prominent call to action like a big “Buy Now!” button? The problem you need to address may be with the site’s user interface.

Second, consider the opportunities that are created by the problem. In the above example, one step you may take to correct the problematic UI is to look more closely at your site analytics. In delving more deeply into these numbers than the mere number of site visits and bounce rate, you may discover a vital demographic or source of traffic of which you were previously unaware. So solving the sales problem may open up new marketing doors.

Above all, stay positive. Digital marketing is ever-evolving. Just as your newly-launched website is never really finished, your marketing priorities continue shift and adjust as you learn more and more about your business and its place in the world.

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