By Corpwrite Strategy’s Luke Maddison.

Social and digital marketing is undoubtedly the flavour of the month in the blogosphere and with various business publications. Whilst as marketers we like to stay ahead of the curve, the preoccupation with digital marketing made me think about our profession and how we reach our customers.

There’s no doubt that in a number of industries, digital and social platforms have changed the way customers interact with our brands. However everything I hear and see now is that if we don’t have a major digital presence we’ll fall behind. In B2C businesses that’s perhaps truer than in B2B markets but it made me think: shouldn’t your digital and social activities be components of an underlying strategy designed to deliver agreed business outcomes not the “be all and end all” of 21st century marketing?

Focusing on B2B, I believe our focus should be primarily three fold: develop a strong marketing-led strategy for the business, deliver a marketing program that builds customer preference and generates leads and lastly, ensure customer-facing teams are equipped to action all opportunities.

Many marketers I speak to tell me that they’re doing it tough with the pressure on to slash budgets. Yet they’re still expected to “Do more with less”. At the same time, these same marketers are obsessed with digital strategies, even if their sales teams are not on board as they can’t see how a tweet or a “like’ will generate sales leads. In many cases it’s hard to disagree with the sales teams view: are we as marketers too focused on the “shiny bright new toy” rather than helping our company win business?

I’m not dismissing social and digital as important communications platforms, far from it. I just think digital marketing should be seen as an important part of a larger go-to-market strategy. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are effective ways to talk to our customers, however a well-defined strategy will not only identify the right customer but also the right message and the right timing. I see too many marketing teams firing off on big digital/social projects that really forget the key principles of what we do. In fact without a guiding strategy they’re often no more useful than an unaddressed mailer that we hope will hit someone in the buying cycle. Our job is to set the tone strategically for the products/services our business offers and then drive that strategy across all our marketing programs. Because ultimately if we’re not generating sales, what are we doing the activity for?