Whether for digital marketing research or for any other fast-evolving business and management specialty, there has never been a time when professionals had a greater need to attain subject matter expertise fairly quickly. While your expertise may not come literally overnight, you are going to learn the same approach I teach my consultants to use in gaining an authoritative understanding of new knowledge areas fast.
The 7-part system I will share with you is an approach that my own consulting clients have paid me thousands of dollars to learn and execute as part of accelerating their positioning and thought leadership in industries as varied as financial services, scrantontaxi non-governmental development and direct marketing. Using digital marketing as the example subject matter area, I will illustrate how this approach can make you an industry player in record time.
Digital Marketing – A prime example of the explosion of subject matter
Digital marketing today is a broad domain that generally covers search engine marketing, email marketing, social marketing, mobile marketing (across devices), Unitedlyft Online advertising and media buying, digital PR, e-commerce, web analytics, website design and marketing, digital signage and “Internet of Things” among other areas. Within each of these areas, new advances are adding layers of complexity to the map.
Here are a few steps to help you make sense of new spaces and develop a place of thought leadership within them for yourself or your organization.
1. Map the Marketplace
What are the sub-domains within this new area you are seeking to investigate? For instance, the mobile marketing sub-domain can itself be broken down along the lines of mobile display advertising (and ad networks), SMS marketing, mobile search advertising, mobile application advertising, mobile social marketing, location-based advertising, mobile gaming, mobile video advertising and more.
You can use simple mind mapping software (Xmind or FreeMind) to create a map of the key domains as well as the key players and stakeholders. In this context of mobile marketing, such players would include mobile ad networks, SMS providers, mobile advertising agencies (digital marketing agencies), major trade associations and publications, major online content portals and websites, regulating bodies as well as laws or regulations governing mobile, mobile device OEMs (Original Equipment manufacturers), app marketplaces and carrier networks.
2. Identify Core Problems And Challenges
Examine the major issues facing the space. These might be barriers to wider adoption or newly arising issues that are projected to loom larger over time. Conduct research that helps you identify which of the stakeholders in the space are leaders in grappling with these emerging issues and challenges. Take a step back and think of your own challenges as a newcomer to the space and the questions you have that many others may share.
3. Identify Core Solutions and Offerings
Look for application case studies and review how the core solutions might relate to various customer categories like B2B, B2C, small and very small business, local retail, professional services, manufacturers, industrial companies, government and public organizations, nonprofits, personal consumers, etc.
For instance, imagine you are the principal at a traditional marketing agency (TV, radio, print and outdoor) and you want to investigate email marketing. You would have to map the email marketing space in a way that differentiates for B2B, B2C markets and size of companies (in terms of revenues). See if you can identify players who have developed authoritative content for each of the categories or revenue levels you can identify in a potential marketplace.
4. Identify Best Practices
Pore through emerging research to identify the consensus on best practices. Aggregate these ideas and test them to form your own opinions. Make a list of which findings you disagree with and take a moment to note why.
5. Unearth Key Trends And Opportunities (Spending, Penetration and Usage)
Specifically try to keep track of key trends in the areas of spending, penetration, scope of usage, adopting sectors, and potential challenges. Attend events (online events and video keynotes) and contact thought leaders. Engage with them directly through social media and solicit them for email interviews and teleseminar interviews.
6. Common Mistakes
Look for information on common mistakes that are made by new entrants into the area (consumers, users, deployers, etc) as well as strategic mistakes or missteps by key industry stakeholders that have been documented. See if you can combine this with your current background and knowledge to identify some potential mistakes that established leaders in the industry may be missing.
7. Must have tools by revenue and category (B2b, B2C)
Look for the software tools, physical tools, educational and research tools that are already commonly used in that area, and those that you find particularly useful while you are still new to the space. Make sure to create resource guides of these tools as you come across them because you can package these resources later to build a content marketing platform.
I have just shown you how I create expertise on my client businesses and industries in record time. I also encourage my coaching and consulting clients to take this approach that I have just shared in detail with you. Whether you want to be a thought leader, an industry analyst, or just market information products within a space, you can use this powerful system to decode any industry.