Breaking free from the shackles of your Digital Strategy

Posted: November 14, 2011 in Digital strategy
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I recently sat through a movie which I hated – it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. It’s a familiarly painful experience. You spend the first half of the movie wanting to believe it could get better and the second half painfully accepting that you’ve sat through the first half so better see the rest through!

The experience is not too dissimilar to being asked to execute a poorly devised Digital Strategy. What could be worse than being stuck in the middle of a 5 year strategy which is conservative, stale, lacking in innovation and was only every going to achieve moderate success in the first place?

It’s a trend we’re seeing more of recently here ‘agency side’. It seems we’ve spent years convincing and educating clients on the need for Digital Strategy, whilst today we’re in a position of needing to challenge those very strategies we’ve been selling in!

You can see the effects all over the place. Facebook pages with 1000’s of fans but no real engagement models; Great new eCommerce web sites launching with no consideration for mobile commerce; Apps costing thousands of dollars, devoid of purpose or function; or perhaps more simply a failure to embrace new and relevant technologies or solutions.

Lacklustre digital initiatives are tell-tale signs of digital strategies which prescribe executional not strategic objectives. Like the moment you realise you won’t be enjoying a movie, you can sense a Digital Strategy is failing when you feel that the very people the strategy was devised to engage with are losing interest and it is here where innovation plays a key role.

Teams delivering Digital Strategy need to be guided by a strategy, but be given the space to interpret them too. They need timeframes and objectives, but they also need to be challenged along the way. There is no shortage of new innovation which can challenge today’s best Digital Strategy, whether it’s new payment methods on offer by the likes of Facebook or Dwolla; Location based services; Your customers ever increasing Klout or PROskore; or new ways to connect like Google+ business pages.

A good Digital Strategy should provide a clear framework for assessing why jump on bandwagons when they arise, instead of prescribing when or how to do so.

It’s not easy of course. Digital Strategy often gets sold in at the very highest levels and it’s at those levels where people find it difficult to accept that “this part of our strategy is being left open for interpretation”, but that’s exactly what needs to happen if a strategy is expected to deliver meaningful results from start to end.

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Comments
  1. Ellen says:

    Interesting read! Are there really people and companies who think they can commit to a 5 year planned strategy in this field? While technology is moving this fast? While everyone in this business is changing jobs every 2-3 years? While we are in a recession and every thing that costs money will be questioned?( I worked for a fmcg company once and the first thing to be cut was always the advertising budget – it was a large chunk of money and there were no immediate effects – by the time we would see the long-term effects the person cutting the budget was gone). I think the strategy should be no more than a vision and a framework, to meet the fast changes in tech and people, not something that is planned in detail.

  2. Cameron Rickersey says:

    Is a little sad to be understanding from experience every aspect of this article.
    A big positive of a client’s poor digital strategy scenario though, is the opportunity to be able to pro-actively open the client’s eyes and show where you can add value by filling in all those gaping holes left by a swiss cheese like strategy.

    The quality of a good strategy can be seen when it is open enough to allow for technologies and styles to be allowed to advance with the strategy still holding 100% relevance. Is a great client relationship where this kind of strategy is impemented and trusted, and leads to great work from start to finish.

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