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Forbes: ‘Digital Sense’ Is Marketing 101 For Digital Marketers Who Don’t Know It All

by John Koetsier, Forbes

It’s hard to be a digital marketer.

Using Snapchat doesn’t make you a digital marketer. Tweeting about bots and messaging doesn’t make you an expert on conversational commerce. And while sharing Alexa stories to your Facebook friends might make you look hip and smart, it’s not a sign that you know how to design marketing interactions for a voice-first future.

Which is why one of the very wonderful things in Travis Wright and Chris Snook’s new book, Digital Sense, is the forward by business and marketing legend Brian Solis.


Authors Travis Wright and Chris Snook

 Solis makes this very clear.

“There’s an illusion that makes us believe that just because we are investing in new technologies and strategies, that we are ahead of the curve,” he says. “But that doesn’t make you a digital marketer.”

A digital marketer knows technology and creativity. She knows that Twitter is a different thing than Facebook, and marketing that works on one doesn’t on the other. And she knows that people in the modern world are in charge of their experience and can, if they choose, remove a brand and its messages from their reality bubble.

 “As such,” Solis writes, “Digital is a means to reach a different breed of customers, one who’s connected, informed, empowered, demanding, elusive, a bit narcissistic, and definitely in control of their online experiences.”

That’s why Digital Sense: The Common Sense Approach to Effectively Blending Social Business Strategy, Marketing Technology, and Customer Experience, is so important. (It may or may not also be the reason the title of the book is so bloody long!)

“We have attempted to fill the gap between marketing books about social, martech, and customer experience and business strategy and planning,” authors Wright and Snook told me. “We felt a void existed in the market for a complete guide that could provide a clear way to put it all together and align the whole organization around the digital transformation effort while putting the customer in the center of all decision making.”

Digital Sense covers new marketing realities like influencers and attention, as well as socially critical people in B2B selling such as amplifiers and “motivatables.” It also frames the introduction of new technologies in an “Experience Marketing Framework,” (EMF) which helps marketers iterate towards success. EMF includes an insights layer — learning from your customers — as well as a Vision layer, which explores customer journeys. And it concludes with a Success layer, in which marketers build the key operational elements of a modern marketing organization.

Why a framework?

“We knew that a framework was needed to help provide organization and leaders within them a common picture to work from as they spoke about customer experience as a priority and made plans in their business to stay competitive,” the authors told me.

Photo credit: Akvile Harlow of AKvertise:

Photo credit: Akvile Harlow of AKvertise:

Wright and Snook then utilize that framework to delve into what many marketing authors might have started with: insight and tactics on key marketing hot buttons, including social, data and automation, and future-proofing for coming technological revolutions.

But this is a major, 304-page book, and all of those topics get significant and weighty consideration.

In social, for instance, Digital Sense addresses strategy, content marketing, paid amplification, search engine optimization, social selling, account-based marketing, influencer marketing, social recruiting, and social customer service, among many other topics.

One of the core challenges in marketing technology is that most marketers have a marketing blob, not a marketing stack.

So it’s good to see that in Data And Automation, Wright and Snook tell marketers how to build a marketing-tech stack, how to integrate CRM and marketing automation, as well as many other topics: tag management, analytics, and monitoring.

As someone who has extensively researched marketing clouds, I also appreciated this statement about marketing operating systems:

“Many had hoped the big four—IBM, Adobe, Salesforce, and Oracle—would do to marketing what Apple and iPhone did to the smartphone industry; provide a marketing operating system (mOS) that could provide a development kit to marketers and technologists to build on. It would provide all the fundamental pieces including the universal view of the consumer, the necessary connection points across different components. The marketer could extend and build more creative applications on top of it. That did not happen. The landscape exploded at a faster rate than these players could build, acquire, and integrate.”

There is no silver bullet.

The solution, instead, is to build compatible pieces via APIs and vendor-built integrations, giving you the flexibility to plug and play as change happens and needs evolve … as they inevitably will.

Finally, this massive book finishes up with what marketers need to do to future-proof themselves, and highlights some of the key emerging technologies that are going to change everything, all over again. Those include IoT, AI, VR, as well as drones and 5G connectivity.

That might seem a little ahead of the curve, but smart marketers are figuring these things out now, not waiting until it’s too late:

“Sections of this book related to tactics, tech tools, or strategies will be obsolete in months if not years, even though the EMF will not,” Wright and Snook told me. “We spoke about these other trends to give the reader an understanding and awareness to things to come and how this concept of Digital Sense can be dynamic and adaptable using the EMF. We wanted to write a marketing book that will still be relevant 5-10 years from now.”

Clearly, this is a technology marketing class in a box.

And it’s one that, given Brian Solis’ comments in the forward, almost every marketer would do well to buy, read, and maybe keep handy for quick updates ever so often.

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