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What do we mean when we talk about digital (marketing) strategy?

This outtake is from an hour of discussion recorded exclusively for our Pivotal Marketer Community on Facebook (where the full recording is available) sees Mike Berry, marketing trainer and consultant and MMC’s Rene Power discussing digital marketing strategy, what it is, what it isn’t, marketing involvement in the C-suite and key marketing strategy models.

It’s the first in a series of serialisations on marketing strategy, be sure to check all new posts as they publish (or see the recommended reading below).

Rene: So we’ve got these four little areas we’re going to go through in the next sort of 20 or 30 minutes or so. And we’re going to start with the big ones.

So when we talk about digital strategy, what do we mean? What sort of things do we think that includes? I’m going to kick that one over to Mike first, if I may.

Mike Berry: Yeah, a really good question Rene. And a lot of people are using exactly that phrase without the other word marketing. So actually it’s broader, isn’t it? Digital strategy, broader than digital marketing strategy.

Most of us are marketers by background and marketers at heart maybe. But remember of course these technologies have affected many more parts of a business than just the four Ps of marketing.

So when you talk about marketing strategy, it’s a very, very broad area. And I think it’s CEO level. It’s definitely about transformation of all your business processes and the technology affects production, it affects HR, it affects sales.

And I think the really big picture is the whole digital transformation piece. And again, that has become a bit of a cliché, a bit of jargon, hasn’t it?

Because I think some people originally thought, “Well okay, we’ll do digital transformation then it will be done. We can breathe a sigh of relief. We will be transformed and we get on with business.”

A permanent state of beta

Whereas of course, depending on how you interpret it, transformation never ends. It’s a continuous state. I think it was Gerd Leonhard, the futurist who said the future will be permanent beta, which is a great expression or maybe it’s beta.

But in other words, we’re never going to get there and the journey is what matters and we can always improve. And it also means that there’s always ways of testing new things and trying new things.

And we have to be ready to be surprised because the technology and the end users, the consumers or the business customers, they are unpredictable by definition. So the wild ride continues would be my analysis Rene.

Rene: Yeah, there’s a lot of great stuff in there to unpack isn’t there? And I think you’re right. I think looking at that kind of impact on a business or an organisation as a whole, in its totality, is one of the best places to start.

Like you said, as marketers we’re sometimes perhaps a little bit guilty of focusing on the promotional P and not perhaps forcing an involvement or an important some of the other things.

In some organisations the sales teams will set the pricing, but actually pricing is fundamentally a marketing thing as well isn’t it? Because it links so closely into the positioning and all the other things that fall out of good marketing strategy.

So I think you’re right, digital marketing strategy which is looking at your audience, your market, your competition, all that stuff that we would do as a conventional traditional marketing strategy, but obviously with a keen focus on that ever important online environment.

And I think we only have to look at the rise to prominence of things like the search engines, particularly Google and the social media platforms. And now even some of these apps that are coming along and taking share from some of these sites to see how fragmented this all gets and how having a strategy that can really start to maximise and play into some of that can help us.

So, I think you’re right. It’s really important to look from almost the top down in the business because I think like you said, that it’s very easy to think, “Hey let’s go digital or let’s start e-commerce site, and let’s sell more stuff online.” But there’s so much that has to go into making that work isn’t there? There’s so many other considerations.

Mike Berry: And I completely agree with your point