I can’t tell you how many times that “s” word comes up in digital marketing and throws everyone into panic. It’s the elephant in the room. Everyone seems to want to define what “strategy” means and what one should be (Not to mention that it’s part of my job title, so I should really know what I should be doing every day).
But I’m not here to be one of those people. I don’t think I have all the answers. What I can do that might help, is tell you what strategy is NOT.
Strategy is not a fixed plan or roadmap for project managers. It is not an attempt to put down on paper what some crazy wacked out visionary has in their head.
Calling it a “strategic plan” makes it sound better – but it’s not a strategy.
- It doesn’t have a fixed order like an RFP.
- It doesn’t start out with a one line mission statement and lofty aspirational goal with measurable results.
If anything, my strategies start from the middle, get bigger, expand and then condense into something that tells a logical story. There will be many choices on tactical ways to meet that strategy. That’s not my job.
A strategy document doesn’t always include a list of tactics or initiatives. It can, but they you’ll have to update them later, so why include them?
A strategy document doesn’t have to be the length of a book. It should be long enough to get your point across, but if your think the reader will start “zoning” after the 3rd slide or paragraph, you are missing the mark.
My trick is to take all that “throw away” filler content and move to the appendix. It is nice that the strategy is built on facts and data-driven, but not what the user is reading for. They want the meat.
The risk taking, the mental leap, the key differentiator that will make a product stand out, and clearly communication the value proposition to a consumer and cause them to pull the trigger. “The secret sauce.”
Strategy is not defined by a budget. Does the customer care what your marketing campaign costs? Or more that it was “sticky” and got them to stop and think. Everyone wants to throw costs into a strategic plan, because then that plan can be controlled can regulated by the company. People can then be held accountable. But the danger is, this is severely limiting to creative ideas.
Instead of thinking about what actually might be cool, what someone would be interested in and then figure out later how that will fit within the fiscal year budget. Build a business case for cool. This is revenue planning, not cost planning.
A strategy is not defined by a standardized template. Yes, it makes it easier to read, predict and control, but what if your strategy is actually different than the one before it? Positioning and order/flow should be flexible and driven by the thinker/writer of the strategy. Do you want your strategies to starting looking like email templates? Yuck, you’ll stop reading them.
Strategy is not perfection. It can’t be predict what will actually work, it’s just a theory based on an educated guess. Bottom line, we really don’t know how a customer is going to behave; all we can do is be agile enough to change tactics along the way when they decide. (Hint, build that explicitly into your strategy – or it will never happen).
So I bet you are still trying to get your head around what a strategy should be, and clearly I am not giving the answers, but it I did, it would “steal your learning” and defeat the very purpose of a digital strategy. Strategy is an approach, a creative and evolving beast that is different depending on the product you are marketing and the people you are marketing to. That can’t be standardized. The best advice I can give it to stop over-thinking it. Start with common sense (the middle) and then move in both directions – defining the positioning, then defining the final budget from there.
If you then need a copywriter and designer to make it pretty and orderly – then do it. But don’t stifle the strategic idea. We have a few examples you can download – but I warn you, they are not the same and may not be able to be easily replicated. Ooops…
What does Web Strategy mean to you?
Let us know your go-to market strategy for creating a digital strategy in the comments …. and if you know someone who could use this, please share with them.