Organizations often think of marketing as one task in a string of others to complete. The best marketing pros, however, will tell you their job is an ongoing process that doesn’t end when a link is posted or a project shipped.

There’s no on-and-off switch for marketing in the digital age.

Just as previously one-off products have turned into ongoing services that are constantly updated and altered (Example, how many times your phone’s app store tells you to run updates on all your different downloads), marketing a business, then, has to be as dynamic as the service itself. What this means is that marketing has to be much more than a to-do-list item you check off and forget about. In order to resonate with your clients or audience, you need to be constantly updating your plan so that everything from your channels to the times you tweet are in line with your customers’ ever-changing tastes.

Think of today’s digital marketing as three-phase cycle that repeats itself continually. Those phases are: assess, optimize, and move to new channels.

Assess. Before you can implement specific tactics, you first need to understand where you currently are in the overall marketing strategy. In other words, step back before you step forward.

Doing so should include a thorough audit of both the business and its current marketing activities. In this phase, you’re  gathering facts to get a realistic picture of what shape the business is in. How well are current marketing activities performing? What motivates your audience or customers? Even more basic, is your website easy to use or will bad code and stale design turn people away?

All of these questions will be important to answer during the assessment phase.

Optimize. So the website’s a mess and looks like it dropped out of the year 1998. No problem. This second part of the cycle is all about fixing that.

The facts you gathered during your assessment should guide your tactics for optimizing your marketing strategy. For example, say you’re a law firm who has top lawyers tweeting throughout the day in order to keep up a social media presence. Your assessment phase, however, shows that there might be a perception that they’re goofing around on the Internet all day instead of working on cases. To quell their fears and improve your social strategy, you change the frequency of tweets so that you maintain an online presence but don’t look as if your employees have nothing better to do than use Twitter.

Move to new channels.  Your current strategy is as effective as you think you can make it. That’s wonderful. Since today’s marketing has no “off” switch, fully optimizing your current strategy doesn’t mean you can kick back and relax. If you’ve mastered your current set of channels — SEO, content marketing, PR, etc. — it’s time to consider where makes the most sense to go next.

Again, use your assessment facts to guide you. If your audience clearly wants offline experiences as well as the ones online, consider doing workshops or demonstrations. Speaking engagements are also a good route. On the other hand, if you throw amazing conferences twice a year but no one remembers you the rest of the time, boost your online presence with some year-round content marketing.

In any business, there’s always room to repeat this cycle once you’ve rounded it the first time. In fact, continuing to asses, optimize, and find new channels will help make you and your employees more comfortable with both the process and the idea of marketing for a digital-age audience.

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