To have or not to have a digital strategy…

For several years now, digital strategy and digital transformation have been on everyone’s lips, and for some people it should even reverse old school marketing. What could be more attractive than the infinite targeting possibilities (thanks to big data and programmatic advertising, Data Management Platforms etc.) as well as those of artificial intelligence, not to mention THE marketing target that makes all marketers dream: the Millennials!

OK but who can give me a brief definition of “old school” marketing?  As I learned and put it into practice during my many years of FCMG brand management, here are the 3 key steps in its laborious but virtuous circle:

  • Diagnosis: analysis and evaluation of the previous year including consumer studies
  • Strategy: define the battle plan for the coming year with SMART objectives (simple, measurable, achievable, within a defined time frame)
  • Implementation: action plan and execution of the 4Ps strategy

However, for young marketers for whom the words diagnosis and strategy too often serve as a repellent, as for old marketing veterans who seek to stay in the game, there is a great temptation to focus the digital action plan promoted to the status of a “strategy” for the occasion, at the expense of previous phases.

Ever tried to build a solid house without foundations? Same struggle.

To top it all off, as I have sometimes observed, some go as far as taking the % of digital expenses over total communication and media expenses as a “performance” indicator.

In short, what some people are trying to present as a digital strategy is nothing more than a shortcut that lacks a starting point: a brand strategy followed by its declination into a holistic communication strategy.

Hence my advice to all people who want to “do it right in digital”: avoid all those who try to convince you to invest in digital without going through the diagnosis and brand global strategy phase followed by an audit of your ecosystem. And only once this milestone has been reached, wherever it makes sense to execute your strategy, integrate the possibilities offered by the multiple digital facets: content and discussion platforms, e-commerce, various media channels and their targeting possibilities, etc. And this by following a few rules:

– If you use a digital channel, create specific content. Reassure me, you wouldn’t consider a poster as a newspaper ad page, would you? So why take up a TV spot on Facebook or YouTube?

– Don’t give in to the sirens of ultra-targeting without double-checking the extra cost vs. the benefit. A bit like when you consider upgrading your flight to business….

– Digital is not an exclusive and jealous mistress: exploit the complementarity of offline and online channels to achieve the objectives set during the strategic phase.  With 2 key words as a bonus: complementarity and consistency of the communication campaign on all touchpoints.

One last piece of advice: balance investments for the short term and those for the growth of your brand and the influence of its image in the longer term!


Inspiration : Mark Ritson