In Christendom what you believe about the Holy Trinity (You know… God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) is a pretty big deal. For Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and most other Protestants a valid baptism must include the words “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Depending on your theology, religion or whatever floats your boat, having a valid baptism could be the difference between heaven and hell.

If you’re bored or offended by my Wikipedia sourced theology lesson, don’t worry. It’s over. Today I’m talking about a different type of trinity, the trinity for survival marketing. Getting these three things right probably won’t get you into heaven, but they’re important as hell:

1. Develop Digital Capabilities

The first thing you must do to survive is to develop capabilities to cope with the digital world that you live in. They say old dogs can’t learn new tricks. If your business hasn’t learned the tricks required to navigate the online world, you better hope they’re wrong.

Speaking of old tricks… a McKinsey & Company study reveals that maintaining traditional marketing and branding in today’s digital environment kills companies. What I mean by traditional marketing and branding is outbound promotion strategies, like billboards, tv commercials, or even online banner ads.

Traditional marketing fares poorest among consumers who make the entire buyer’s journey online. A consumer takes the entire buyer’s journey online when the consumer educates themselves about a need online, evaluates their options online, and purchases online. Consumers who make a portion of the buyer’s journey online but purchase at a brick and mortar location were almost twice as likely to be influenced by traditional marketing as consumers who stayed online.

For those consumers who now do everything online, digital capability is king. Digital capabilities include creating online brand awareness, offering online purchases, generating a customer experience on par with in-person experiences, and accepting and giving attention to customer comments. Companies rated in the top 10% on digital capabilities were able to convert sales 2.5x better than companies in the bottom 10%.

In the digital age consumers are in charge, and they want the respect that comes with this newly obtained power. Online brand awareness, ease of purchasing, excellent customer experiences, and customer feedback loops all empower your customers to be productive online… even if that means more time to stalk on Facebook or lurk on Reddit. That’s what people who take the buyer’s journey online want.

The fittest in business take the time to understand where their customers are coming from and meet their customers’ needs. Remember that phrase? “The customer is always right.”

Look at the keywords that people are searching for. This will tell you what your customers need and what type of content you can provide that will be helpful.

Find out whether your customers are viewing your content on a desktop, phone or tablet. This will allow you to optimize your content to meet your customers where they are whether that’s in the office or on the go. As consumers get serious about wearables or some other type of technology, ask yourself “Are my digital capabilities adapting?”

Finally, make sure to deliver high levels of customer service and be social online. Your social media marketing matters… a lot. The Financial Times and the New York Times have successfully used social media to pump up their brand and push their digital products. These newspapers have been able to increase their digital-subscription revenues significantly in the face of declining print circulation and advertising revenues. You can do the same.

2. Cultivate Awareness

Cultivating_AwarenessThe Economist ran a story a couple years back that said that the protestant work ethic fueled capitalism’s rise to dominance, but Buddhism is acting as its life-support. I’m not going to tell you to meditate (although meditation may improve business skills), but there’s an important lesson that we can learn from mindfulness that can help your business avoid destruction.

You need to be aware of the present moment. You may think you know what your company needs to do and how to respond to the future, but if you’re not immersed in the present, you know nothing.

Unfortunately, you can’t really meditate on the web, but you can do something similar. In meditation you focus on the present moment by noticing your thoughts or your senses. What you’ll do to focus on the present moment of your market environment is to look at every piece of information you have. Look at your web traffic, your conversion rate, and your social media shares. Educate yourself about how the market is changing and what new competition you have.

When you’re educating yourself, don’t maintain a narrow focus on your market. Companies off your radar may transform into competitors. You might might get a competitor out of left field, or you might eventually be able to compete with the big boys in ways you never dreamed of.

Awareness is about knowing what’s going on around you, just for the sake of knowing. The information you learn may help you and it may not. One thing’s for sure, you can’t adapt to environmental changes that you don’t see. Cultivating awareness opens your eyes.

3. Go Inbound

Marshall McLuhan, a famous Canadian philosopher of communication theory, coined the phrase “The medium is the message.” This phrase should define how you  think about the internet and your company’s marketing strategy.

The internet isn’t just how people find your content or relate to your products and services; the internet is a medium with its own message that radically transforms the way business is done.

The medium you use in your marketing matters.

No longer does some business executive in New York or Hollywood get to decide what advertisements come into your home. Today, an estimated 85% of TV viewers don’t even watch commercials. Now the consumer decides what they will consume.

Increased consumer power is what’s driving inbound marketing methods to replace traditional interruption based channels. This is why you should make inbound marketing the focal point of your promotion strategy.

Inbound marketing helps people find you, while they’re searching the web for solutions to their problems. Inbound respects the facts that consumers are in charge.

Consumers know what ad companies are up to, and they punish marketers who force their products and services. Consumers understand that the internet gives them power, so you have to earn their attention. Creating excellent content that responds to consumer needs has to be a part of your marketing strategy, if you want to survive.

This also means you should be creating successful social media campaigns. This is another place customers can find your company naturally. Polarization between digitally savvy companies, who use social media and other digital channels, and the rest of the pack is already taking hold as customer interaction benefits early adopters.

Don’t believe me? Guess what, 71% of people are more likely to buy based on a social media referral.

Social-media recommendations nudge customers without offending them. Positive consumer digital experiences also make your brand likeable. Just ask a politician; likeability is important.

So digital capabilities, awareness and inbound marketing might not be the difference between heaven and hell, but we both know it’s going to feel like hell when your business goes belly up because it couldn’t cut it in the digital world. That’s why survival marketing matters.

What do you think it takes to survive in today’s digital world. Let’s talk about it in the comments!