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09/28/2010 Digital Strategy is the What not the Where

I admit that I get a kick out of seeing articles proclaiming, “SEO needs to be the cornerstone of your digital strategy” or “Base your digital strategy on social media.” These types of articles, and there are a lot of them, help blur the idea of strategy with tactics and channels.

Rather than focus on where a brand should show up in the digital ecosystem, good digital strategy would instead focus on what a brand should do or stand for. If you can figure out What, then the Where makes a lot more sense.

You can see the reverse happening all the time. That’s probably why we have so many terrible banner ads. The strategy says “display ads” and then its time to backfill the space.

The What, of course, is a lot harder to figure out than the Where. A great place to start is to try to move away from the promotional part of the What and instead dig into the business or organization itself and ask the question:

“What does this business do really well with people offline and how would we bring these interactions to those in the digital space?”

It’s surprising how much you’ll find once you take the time to uncover these nuggets. You’ll also need to help your team break down the barriers to bringing these actions to your digital marketing. Any great customer service or interaction is a potential winning What. Sales people who have a special routine, or classes you provide the community are two easy examples of taking real life connections and trying to find a way to bring these to life digitally.

Is there a way you treat your best customers? Do you provide tools or tests for people to use before they buy your products?

Digital strategy needs to take real business/people interactions and map out how to translate those to space where people can control the interactions. Once you’ve done that, figuring out the where (and the how) will have a lot greater impact.

The biggest challenge? Having the time and resources to figure out the What.  But that is time and money well spent.



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