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Darwin and Digital Dismissals

Cricket stumps and ball


Last week I attended an October Business Month event in Darwin and the guest speaker was none other than cricket great Glenn McGrath.

Obviously, being a fan of cricket, I found the presentation to be motivating and it took me well outside of my comfort zone. Hats off to Glenn for not only being one of the best fast bowlers in the world, but also for his tireless efforts with the McGrath Foundation and proudly carrying on the work of his late wife, Jane, in the name of breast cancer research.

After listening to stories of the success of his organisation and how he is moving forward in this dynamic economy, I was inspired to learn more about how businesses in the NT are using Digital Media.

Later in the week I took part in a speed networking session and found that seven out of 10 business owners are unaware of the benefits of optimising their website to be mobile and tablet friendly. I was astounded!

The conversation also revealed some interesting comments and insights:

  • "My website doesn’t get enough hits so why do I need to make it mobile friendly?"
  • "I don't know how to use social media. But that's okay, my customers don’t access my services online anyway, they call me instead!"
  • "I don’t own an iPad so why do I need to spend more money on digital avenues that are not going to work for me?"
  • "I don’t have a website because all my customers are walk ins!"

Wow! I couldn't believe my ears. I was shocked by their unwillingness to think beyond their personal experience and consider market opportunities beyond their existing customer base, and how they can use digital avenues to foster all their relationships, old and new.

In this modern world you can no longer afford to assume anything. Technology and access to it has changed the game. Just as Kerry Packer turned cricket on its head in the 70s, the digital revolution is changing how we do business in the 21st century.

Yesterday, waiting for a bus, I saw a lady in her late 50s surfing the net on her iPad; something you could not have envisaged even five years ago. Such technology enables businesses to learn more about their target market than ever before. We can now determine definitively, how consumers engage with digital media, where they're spending their time and for how long.

The no. 1 rule in Marketing is that assumptions can often lead to mistakes. And doing market research is an essential component of any marketing strategy.

They knew we could count clicks and visitors to websites, but my counterparts were shocked to learn that we can monitor how long someone spends on a website, how they came across the site, geo-tagging visitors, measuring conversion-rates, and generally tracking visitor demographics and data that then demonstrates a very clear and real correlation between your digital efforts and ROI.

My question to those I met who said they didn’t need a website was, “How do you know?

The answer was a shrug of the shoulders.

I explained how a website is an excellent touch point to engage and inform current and potential customers, while measuring which aspects of your business are online drawcards and which market segments are responding to what products and services. Such an online hub is your virtual shop-front, open 24/7, representing your brand and channelling sales even while you sleep.

What about social media? Why would I need to waste my time there?

I asked “Are you enjoying this event?” All nodded their agreement. “Are you enjoying this conversation?” They nodded some more.

I reminded them that social media can be the online equivalent – a networking opportunity to start conversations with others. The BIG4 – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, provide countless ways to engage existing and potential consumers and partners.

The information people share through social media allows us to target consumers more specifically, based on their location, age, gender and the buying behaviours revealed through “Likes”, shares, clicks on advertising banners/text and online transactions.

It’s a little scary to think how much data is being collected across the world each hour of every day and, on the flip-side, how many brands are frankly fearful of what negative things consumers could say about them online. The reality is that consumers will say what ever they want on social media, regardless of whether the business has an online presence or not.

It reminded me of something I would say to my cricket team: “Helmet, guards, pads, gloves.”

You have to get out on the field and play the game, but don’t forget to protect yourself. There are a number of safeguards you can put in place to mitigate risk in social media.

It got me thinking, there’s a few lessons from cricket that certainly apply to online marketing and running between digital wickets:

  • “Build the foundation of innings” – Invest in the foundation of your online presence. Develop your website, establish appropriate social media platforms and build strong relationships with your community.
  • “Stay at the crease” – Have patience.
  • “Concentrate on line and length” – Consistency is crucial.
  • “Keep the scoreboard ticking” – While you always try to hit boundaries remember, the 1’s and 2’s are also important, a little progress everyday adds up to big results.
  • “Don’t forget your footwork” – Keep learning and be adventurous. Use your talent and have confidence to try new things.
  • “Rotate the strike“ – You’re not alone out there. Review your contacts, connect with others through social media and think about who can help you and who you can help. True partnerships work both ways.
  • “Don’t just roll the arm over” – give it all you got.

I am genuinely excited by the possibilities Digital can bring to Darwin and the NT market, and to the businesses I’ve started to work with since our meeting last week. Now I just have to keep my eye on the ball and protest the digital dismissals. After all, everyone knew Day/Night cricket wouldn't work. But it did!

And everyone knows... Social Media is just a fad – right?

Rekha Kulkarni, Account Director





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