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How Defense Contractors Can Get More Bang For Their Digital Marketing Buck

Defense contractors that make the strategic, organizational, and operational changes to leverage digital marketing can become more agile, more productive, and accelerate revenue growth.


photo credit: The U.S. Army via photopin cc

 Defense contractors, like many firms adapting to how the Internet has changed the way products are researched and purchased, have experimented with cracking the code that generates sales. Most have failed.

Previously, the sales funnel or purchase cycle was fairly linear. A prospect had limited sources of information to research a product or service. To get more information, by necessity, the buyer would have to contact the seller early in the purchase cycle. Thereafter, the seller was able to exert some control over the purchase.

Now, buyers are influenced by a non-linear variety of information sources outside the seller's control: search, social referrals and recommendations, online reviews, etc.

Defense contractors that understand this evolution are beginning to move digital interactivity toward the center of their marketing strategies.

Digital is now the primary driver of revenue in almost all business categories, and will only become more so as buyers increase their digital "purchasing behavior."

McKinsey & Company published an assessment of business digital marketing, noting as their primary finding that

the most successful digital marketers focus on managing four core sources of value as they increase the percentage of marketing and channel spending directed to digital activities.

Here's my summary of the four ways defense contractors can increase the value of their digital marketing:

  1. Orchestrate an integrated consumer experience - communicating externally with a unified voice can be difficult for some organizations. But the more that a defense contractor can speak with consistency through all channels at all times, the more they are able to instill confidence in their prospects, increase preference and speed up the purchase cycle.
  2. Inspire customers to help you stretch your marketing budget - rather than "telling and selling," effective digital marketers are spending less on traditional outbound marketing.  Instead, they are offering up useful content and making it easy for their prospects to find and share it through social media.
  3. Adopt a publisher’s discipline to curb costs - many companies don't have a unified approach to all the content they create. While this denigrates their customer experience (see #1 above), it can also be a costly oversight. By streamlining, aggregating, integrating and re-purposing their content like a publisher, companies are enjoying tremendous cost savings.
  4. Use intelligence wisely to drive performance - successful companies are able to turn oceans of digital data from insights to action. By getting insights into digital metrics, greater clarity is brought to how marketing can directly improve performance.

Click here to read McKinsey's "Four Ways to Get More Value from Digital Marketing."

The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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