Here’s a three-step process to develop your own digital strategy. Remember, it’s essential to integrate your digital strategy into your overall Marketing Plan. Your digital strategy is likely to fail if it is expected to stand on its own. There really is no cookie-cutter approach to these plans. Everyone’s needs are different and require a specific, thoughtful plan. These three steps are meant to get the ideas flowing in a brainstorming session.
- Step 1 will cover the tasks that must be completed before beginning the process. I suggest the Strategy be the result of a brainstorming session or two. There is much work to be done to prepare for the brainstorming session(s)
- Step 2 will contain a list of questions to be used to spur conversation and keep your team focused on the prize during the brainstorming session(s)
- Step 3 will ask the tough questions you must answer in order to bring closure to the creation of your 2011 Digital Strategy
Before your brainstorming session do some preparation so the meeting is a smooth one. Draft a brief statement outlining business objectives for the company for the fiscal year. Provide an overview of the current Marketing Plan and accomplishments to date. Define your target audience. Provide attendees with competitive research you’ve conducted. Define your ideal customer. Describe your current digital presence, both as a company and as individuals working in the company.
The work described above is critical to a successful brainstorming session leading to the creation of a successful Digital Strategy. This step, if thoughtfully performed, with the right people in the room, could take several hours. It’s worth it!
Step two assumes the client’s team comes to the brainstorming session having completed Step 1. You may wish to use some, or all, of the following questions to guide the discussion during your brainstorming session to and obtain the information you need to draft your Digital Strategy:
- Do you have a prepared “Elevator Speech” that provides the public with your message?
- Is it truly an “Elevator Speech” you are able to put into 3-5 sentences?
- Where is your target audience?
- How much space does your Digital Strategy need to cover (Your city? Your state? The U.S.? The whole world?)?
- Are you targeting a specific race, religion or gender?
- Must you be concerned about translating your message into languages other than English?
- Can you describe your target audience’s use of available digital media? Are they engaged in social media? If so, what platforms are they likely to be involved in? Will they receive your message through a mobile platform?
- Do you want your target audience to engage in your message on an ongoing consistent basis, or is your strategy a one-shot deal?
- Will your target audience respond positively to contests, coupons, registering on your website?
- What defines success in the area of engagement?
- Does your target audience need for your message to be light, friendly or serious?
- How will you briefly describe the uniqueness of your product or service?
- What is currently being said about your company, your product or your service online today?
- How competitive is your marketplace?
- How quickly do you need to see results from your Digital Strategy?
- What defines the success of your Digital Strategy? Is it increased engagement of current customers? Is it the generation of new engagement of prospects? Is it a certain percentage gain in the sale of your product?
- Does your product or your target audience respond differently at different times of the year? If your product is sunscreen and your market is Wisconsin, does your message need to change in the month of January?
- Will your target audience be able to purchase your product or service immediately, or are there steps that must be completed before there is closure?
- Does more than one person have to be in on the decision-making process to purchase your product? Within any given household, the decision to purchase a pair of socks may be handled differently than the decision to purchase a new car, or even tickets to a concert.
- What do we currently have going for us? Is your brand popular or easily recognizable? Is there a great amount of brand awareness? Do the masses have a good perception of your product, or is it burdened by some history we need to discuss?
- Is there something we can brag about? Are you involved in a charity, a local food drive, an international cause of note, or are you providing fund to help find a cure for a disease? Should you be doing any of these things?
Once you have worked through some or all of the questions in Step 2, you may wish to ask these questions:
- What are the obstacles to our success? Competition? Politics? Your financial ability to sustain a thoughtful Digital Strategy? The impatience of your CEO or your Board?
- Is your Digital Strategy truly going to be integrated into your full Marketing Plan or is this the Marketing Plan?
- Are your competitors in this space? How will they respond to your efforts?
- Are you prepared to take your definition of success and track the outcomes of the Digital Strategy? Have you created goals, metrics and other measurements of success?
- Who is staffing this effort internally? Are they qualified or just in need of additional work? How will these people be judged on their efforts to succeed?
In the end it is my hope this process results in a very tight, yet somewhat flexible approach. The goal is not to exit the brainstorming session(s) with several possible approaches. Your Digital Strategy should integrate with your current marketing plan, and contain a systemized approach to implement a Digital Strategy that will contribute to the company’s overall success. It should also be flexible enough to enable you to make changes mid-stream if your tracking indicates the need.
Do you have a Digital Strategy in place for 2012? Do you have other ideas you can share with us?