Someone recently asked me to write an short article about digital strategy. It was meant to go out to SA students studying a variety of digital disciplines. I tried to keep it a light-hearted and thought I’d pop it here on the old blog.
I had no clue what to write, then I remembered what my old Boss at FNB, Luis Simoes once said to me
Do you love coffee? Great! You’re half way to becoming a legendary digital strategist! I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is to start ones’ day with a good cuppa! That and what my first boss, the guy who spearheaded FNB mobile banking, always said, “Wern, stop worrying about technology, I can make a website launch just by you blinking. Tell me WHY I should do it and I will make it happen.” That friends, is my mantra and recipe to strategic success!
I’ll unpack this by splitting it into two key elements.
“Tell me why!”
First. It is easy to forget who you are actually doing the job for. There’s this misconception that some clients are unwilling to buy great and innovative campaigns. Believe me, a good strategist really understands ones client, their specific challenges and what makes them lose sleep at night. We call ‘em business objectives. Be humble, your client might not be a digital guru but more often than not, they know way more about their business and their industry. They are an awesome ally!
Second and my favorite one. The audience, customer, consumer or ‘users’ we digital types like to call ‘em. I like “audience” though – an audience is a bunch folks who choose to listen or interact with you. You can never be everything to everybody, so identify the group of people you want to target with your award winning idea. I recommend looking at stats and graphs – they’re awesome and you should do that, but to truly understand their needs you have to walk in their shoes for a while.
“Loading a website by blinking.”
We have so many digital tools at our disposal these days. The growth within our industry is daunting and unpredictable. Recommendations you write today will be null and void within a year as consumer behavior and technology evolves – that’s a fact of ‘digital strategy’ life. The only way to stay on top of things is to do research – read and have conversations with the folks in the trenches. Along with online resources, spend some time with designers, developers and media strategists – they are your best friends!
Web, social media, mobile, instant messaging, QR codes, applications and even the humble e-mail are but a few tools in our arsenal. A good strategist will recommend the best tools for the job and when to use them – you don’t need to use them all at once.
Logic! I love listening to digital spin doctors and staying on top of international trends but it’s your job to temper it with a logic. Reality is that you can’t always apply the latest international trends within our local context. It’s sometimes up to the strategist to figure out how to use old, tried and tested tools in a more innovative and disruptive way.
Finally, it’s important to round this all off with a decent cup of coffee at the end of the day. Never settle for cheap chicory – only the best will do.