Secret Salsa Recipe: The Best Digital Marketing Mix

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salsa_smallThis past month I had the opportunity to speak with a prominent executive coaching group in the Los Angeles area on the topic of “Digital Marketing in 2010.” This group consists of CXOs (e.g. chief executive officer, chief marketing officer, etc.) for their respective companies. They meet regularly to exchange information and help each other navigate through the ever-changing business landscape.

I was stopped in the elevator after the presentation by one of the attendees, a chief operating officer for a chain of Mexican restaurants. He thanked me for the presentation and commented how valuable he found the information and discussion.

He then said, “We discussed 15 different strategies today. My company has implemented some of these strategies with mixed results. Some campaigns worked well and others not so much. What is your recipe for the best digital marketing mix?”

I explained the best digital marketing mix is a lot like making salsa and so I asked, “What kind of salsa does your restaurant make?”

He responded, “We make many kinds of salsa and pico de gallo. We have traditional tomato-based that most people are familiar with and we have lots of variations such as mango, tomatillo, or jicama and black bean. Of course, then we have salsas that are hot, mild, medium and sweet. We have salsas with all sorts of chilies and peppers such as jalapenos, habanero and serrano.”

I responded, “Exactly. The type of salsa you make depends upon what you are pairing it with. If we are having chips and salsa, a medium heat salsa is probably just fine. However, if you are having salmon — the mango or apricot salsa best complements the fish.”

I continued, “Likewise, the same applies to digital marketing. SEO is a great long-term strategy typically for general keywords. An SEO campaign is probably best thought of as a great mild to medium salsa. It should inform customers that you offer many types of salsa via the general terms. You really don’t want the SEO campaign to be too hot as it could turn off prospective customers.”

“For most clients paid search acts like the heat from a jalapeno or habanero. The monthly media budget acts like a heat throttle — the more chili added — the more heat produced, resulting in more traffic. Paid search often provides opportunities for fast ROI and rich targeting opportunities. It complements SEO, enriches reach, and helps the targeting of keywords not yet matured in an SEO campaign.

“Campaigns like social media and contextual advertising allow you to offer the salsa variations of mango, tomatillo, or jicama and black bean to customers beyond the search engines. These campaigns allow you to acquire new customers and traffic that interact on websites such as newspapers, blogs, forums, and social sites like Twitter and Facebook.”

I responded that the optimal digital marketing mix is a lot like making your own secret salsa recipe. The first step in the recipe is to define your goals, objectives and budget. How is the salsa to be used? How many people do I want to feed? How hot is the salsa?

Next, evaluate how each of the strategies can help achieve goals and objectives. The strategies are the salsa variations, reach and how the heat is controlled.

Once the strategies are evaluated, you have your secret salsa recipe. You can now understand what the optimal digital marketing mix should be based on your goals, objectives and budget.

The chief operating officer chuckled but understood the analogy. He then asked, “What is your recipe for tamales?”

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