I really believe that internet is the way to go but I have no idea how to convince my boss.  How can I ask for budgets for digital campaigns when the company does not even update its website, and does not even have a fan page? --  Morris, from Lipa

Don’t be surprised that convincing top management on using digital marketing in most companies today is still an uphill climb even when they themselves are on Facebook, using Yahoo Mail, and searching in Google. It is often the typical chicken and egg question. No one wants to invest in digital, so no case studies are created on the potential success of using digital marketing.
However, through the years, we have seen digital marketing continuously growing by double digits, and most multinationals now are allocating a fixed percentage of their marketing budget to digital marketing. Even in the last election, we have seen a good number of politicians using the digital space to promote themselves and their platform. With the rise of internet continuously growing given cheaper internet hardware and free wifi in malls, the industry is seeing 2011 to be the tipping point where the cornerstone of marketing is digital.
There is no argument that the internet is the only medium that allows a brand to interact with its audience and the only medium where users are highly engaged.  Companies large or small should at least be taking their first step into experimenting with the opportunities digital can bring to their business.
The most important thing for you is to understand the digital landscape, as most businesses now are affected by the internet, whether they like it or not. Start by taking a look at your competitors and see who amongst them are doing business already on the internet. Search in Google for their sites and fan pages in Facebook. This should give you an idea on where your competitors are online. Next, look at your marketing strategy and programs. Which one of them has the highest potential that can be easily executed in digital? Having identified one, it is now a good opportunity for you to create a quick win.
From your marketing objective of that selected program, draw up your digital marketing objective. Is it to create awareness on a certain segment of the market, or is it already to induce interest and trial for your product? Where would be the best place to communicate and anchor your digital campaign? Previously, all brands are required to have a website of their own. Now, you don’t even have to prioritize having that “perfect” website. You can just create a fan page in Facebook and interact with your audience there.
Facebook interactions, however, are not limited to wall comments. You can even create applications such as games or other formats to engage your users. Do not though, go into an obsession with a “fans race” with your competitors, if you see them on Facebook. The digital battle is not won with having the most number of fans, but by how much you interact with them. Rather than focusing on promos that increase your number of fans, focus more on content planning that keeps your fan page exciting and interactive. In the long run, your fans will give you the real word of mouth and drive more people there.
It’s quite difficult to put everything that digital can offer in one article. However, just note how I started this article. Understand that your audience is also human, and always have a gut check on your web offerings to see if it will appeal to you also. Be your worst critic, because your audience will surely be. Given the lack of time one has online, they will be going into sites and pages that will be of value to them.
In the end, digital is all about metrics and numbers. Once you’ve started the ball rolling, monitor what you have been doing and monitor monthly results and response. 2011 will be a great year for digital, and we see a lot of industries jumping into the bandwagon, whether it is creating applications on Facebook or Ipads, or viral marketing campaigns that will take Youtube by storm.

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.  Please also send your marketing, sales and strategy questions to mentors@mansmith.net.