Treading new ground in digital marketing is a daunting prospect to most small and medium enterprises, but getting your brand into the digital realm is not as complex as it may seem. The challenge is, which platform and how best to interact with the target audience.

Turn back the clock ten years; marketing was far simpler, as there were fewer outlets available, unless you had a very large marketing budget. But now with the ease of using social media to connect with both a commercial and noncommercial audience, there exists an array of opportunities. But, having attained your audience, what is the best way to connect with them?

If we take the example of a campaign involving drug abuse. The first option could be a stylised video, ending with a visual outcome of the drug abuse, to scare the target audience into thinking again. A 'digital' alternative to this could be, for example, taking a rap video from a well-known musician/artist who has recovered from drug addiction and getting the target audience to write and perform on a webcam the last verse of the lyric. The clip would then be uploaded via a link on a website that highlights drug addiction.

The entrants would receive the original version of the artist's video with their contribution edited on the end, the intent being, for it to go viral and the clip with the most hits and meaningful lyrics would be deemed the winner. This has not only made the target audience become more aware of drug addiction but involved them in a positive success story that they are now a part of.

Also, regarding viral ads, why aren't we all producing our own versions of Cadbury's gorilla, banging out the drum pattern of a well know Phil Collins song? Well, looking more deeply into viral ads potentially opens Pandora's box. Viral ads have a life of their own and the brand is usually left well out of the way until the end of the ad, as if it were a sponsored random event that just 'happened' to happen, like on T-mobile's dance video. Getting the public to take part can help create a viral as mentioned above, but on the flipside, YouTube is full of similar virals that only get a few views. The ones that are successful are the ones that ask you to engage with them on an emotional level and that is where the thinking begins.

Ultimately there are no boundaries with digital. If you want something and it doesn't exist, it gets invented, so the focus is how best to target the audience and using which platforms? Digital is becoming more and more important for marketing and advertising campaigns, and the term 'digital' now means much more than websites and email, which is where it all started.

Article by Tim Goodill from Alius Media.

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