“We are a local FMCG company and have seen most of our competitors using digital channels already for marketing like Facebook and Twitter. Being a more traditional and smaller company, can we still catch up today? My boss wants us to do something online immediately but I don’t know where to start. Any tips? ”

For the past two years, we have seen a flurry of activity in the online space. Brands have established a strong base of Facebook users, and have created apps to engage them and keep them connected. At the same time, websites have evolved from mere brochure sites to interactive sites that allow the brand to collect data from their audience and deliver targeted communications. Looking at our foreign counterparts, apart from Search, we are really not too far behind them.

To know where to start, you have to know where you are right now. I attempted to make it more understandable by creating a Digital Maturity Model, where you can analyze how “mature” your organization is when it comes to Digital Marketing. There are basically four stages of maturity: Fundamental, Tactical, Integrated, and Optimal.

The Fundamental Stage is basically the experimental phase where organizations are just trying out digital marketing. They would usually have a website or a facebook page, and would measure their results on pageviews and traffic. The ones working on the digital programs would usually be a creative and a programmer from the IT department. Digital marketing here is done because everyone is doing it.

As the organization gets a better feel for digital, they move to the Tactical Stage or the marketing phase. Their digital presence is now used for digital marketing, and they would usually be asking for more than just Likes on Facebook or traffic on their websites. In fact, at this stage, a marketing person now takes the lead and will focus more on conversions of their digital assets, like how many people click and inquire, or become fans and then engage their app.

The third stage is the Integrated Stage or the digital synergy phase, where digital assets are already integrated with each other. Websites lead to Facebook pages, and mobile apps lead to websites, among other permutations. A senior organizational leader like the Chief Marketing Officer usually takes the lead here, and will focus on making digital more hardworking. They would usually have a digital architecture in place and invest in social listening and conversations. At the same time, they would already expect digital to help solve business problems and will use it as needed.

The final stage is the Optimal Stage or the customer synergy phase. Digital is now boardroom led, and is one of the main agenda in the management discussions as the core driver of the business strategy. The use of digital tools and assets are dependent on the customer, given that they have a clear picture of what their customer wants and have created platforms to communicate to them. At this stage, digital marketing is perfectly integrated into their overall marketing mix, and customer relationship management is implemented for a single view of the customer.

Having explained briefly the four stages, assess first where your organization is, and then start from there. Each stage would have a plan of action and execution steps. From your question, I assume you are still at the first phase. I would recommend you set up your website immediately for presence. Given that you are an FMCG company, I would also suggest you work on getting your Facebook pages up. You need a base to start with, and those two are the easiest. Do not jump into Twitter or other platforms yet given that you are just beginning.

Since this column is not long enough to point out everything you need to do, I suggest you hire a digital agency or get a good digital marketing person. At the same time, prime your boss’s mindset that digital is a mindset of its own, and that you shouldn’t just do it for the sake of doing it. Read up on digital materials so you can converse with your boss. Digital is changing how we communicate to our consumers so we need to start planting the seeds there in our platform. Good luck.

Donald Lim is the Chief e-Marketing Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. (www.mansmith.net), the leading marketing and sales training company in the Philippines. Donald will conduct a seminar-workshop entitled 11th Digital Marketing Plan on September 25-26, 2011. Please emailinfo@mansmith.net, call (+63-2) 584-5858 / 412-0034 or text (+63) 918-81-168-88. Please also send your marketing, sales and strategy questions to mentors@mansmith.net.