During the Technological Revolution of the early 20th century, many companies were hiring for newly created positions to manage a disruption in their industry – electricity. They needed folks to manage the switches, regulators and wires that lit and powered their buildings. Over time, electricity became a commodity and those ‘electrical manager’ jobs folded into existing positions related to research or system maintenance or plain old janitorial services. Rather than managing electricity, they learned to instead manage the new things electricity was allowing them to do.
More than 100 years later, we are well in the throes of the Digital Revolution and, to handle the newest disruption of our age, companies are hiring ‘digital managers’ and offering ‘digital strategies’. Some have even gone so far as to open digital-only agencies.
That’s a problem.
Digital computing and electronics provide us with new ways to learn and connect every day. But ‘digital’ is a tool, not a solution in and of itself.
Let’s break it down.
Think of your marketing strategy as a map. As marketers, we are travel guides. We help our clients decide on the destinations they want to reach, the routes we’ll take toward them and the cars we’ll use to get there.
Destination = Objective
Route = Strategy
Car = Tactic
Every good marketing strategy is built on this foundation of objectives, strategies and tactics. Here’s an example.
Objective: Increase job placements in my rural community by 20 percent over five years.
- Strategy 1: Expand job search methods.
- Tactic 1: Send information to HR departments of local businesses encouraging and teaching them how to post on job listing sites like Monster, Indeed, CareerBuilder, etc.
- Tactic 2: Create and utilize networking groups within different industries and local metros.
- Strategy 2: Encourage entrepreneurial innovation.
- Tactic 1: Approach businesses in towns within a 50-mile radius about opening a second location in your town.
- Tactic 2: Build page on town website listing available commercial properties in main commercial district.
- Strategy 3: Create a small business proposal competition.
- Tactic 1: Set up structure, funding and timeline.
- Tactic 2: Pitch story to local media with both human interest and economic development angles.
- Tactic 3: Utilize social media platforms for continuous marketing and community engagement through application and competition process.
Notice that the objective nor any of the strategies even use the word digital. Only the tactics – the tools we’re using to execute our larger plan – involve digital elements like online job portals and social media.
“I always smile when agencies claim they are doing digital,” said Stéphane Bérubé, L’Oréal’s new chief marketing officer for Western Europe. “Honestly, maybe that was good in 2010, but in 2017 they should claim they just do marketing. We need to stop talking about digital – it’s all part of marketing.”
Rather than managing electricity, we learned to manage the things electricity allowed us to do. So, rather than creating digital teams in our companies or putting digital strategies in our marketing plans, we need to manage the things digital is allowing us to do. Find people who understand that digital is a tool, not a solution, and you set your business up for success.