Setting Objectives

Setting outcome objectives are vital to later being able to understand if your operation is heading towards success or failure. Setting objectives makes it easier to allocate the time and resources you need while having an overview of parallell projects that are set up using the same model which makes this model scalable as well!

Objectives are a means of steering your business in the right direction by having an overview of where you want it to be, and combining it with continuous follow-up on analytics and key performance indicators gives you a clear picture of the current and projected states of your digital operation, letting you know for sure if you need to change/tweek something.

The S.M.A.R.T. CRITERIA
Used for setting objectives.
Developed by: George T. Doran, Paul J. Meyer

Specific - Target a specific area for improvement.

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?

Measurable - Quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

Assignable - Specify who will do it.

Realistic - What results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match our other efforts/needs?
  • Is it applicable in current socio­ economic­ technical environment?

Time related - Specify when the result(s) can/should be achieved.

 

Getting started and making decisions.

“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.”
­- A. A. Milne

I hope that by now, you’ve realized that developing a digital (multi­ or omnichannel) strategy is not as difficult as you might have thought. For the most part, all it takes is; a little time, a little research, a little insight and the ability to make decision without panicking. Ahh, decisions, decisions, always so tricky! Or are they?

RIGHT AND WRONG

A while back, someone told me: “There is no absolute Right or Wrong. There are Actions and Consequences.”

I bet you’re thinking; “Well, that’s not true! Of course there is right and wrong!”
Every time I try to pass the saying on, the other person will bring up anything from theft to murder and rape.

While I COULD spend this article arguing that this theory could be applied to crime and other horrible things aswell, I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to give you a less far­fetched example on when it actually IS true. For example in the context of giving/receiving constructive feedback. It wouldn’t be as constructive to say “You did this wrong” as it would be to say “You did this. Your action led to this consequence, which in turn affected me/the project in this manner.” After all who gets to decide if something is right or wrong. Wrong for who/what?

Lets just agree that there are no absolutes, at least not where this is concerned. Life is about making choices, choices that will bring some sort of consequence. You can’t have it all. Choosing one will usually mean turning down something else.

PROACTIVE VS REACTIVE

There are two ways to take action. You can be reactive, by letting your actions be in response to influence. Or you can be proactive, by creating or controlling a situation and causing something to happen. By choosing the latter, you will be able to dictate what the preferable outcome is as well as the means for achieving it. It will be up to you to decide what is “right” and what is “wrong” and what strategies and tactics that are successful/unsuccessful. Because in the end you aren’t comparing them to an absolute, you are comparing them against your plan.

GETTING STARTED

1. YOUR BUSINESS

Vision

  • What is the purpose of your business, what are you trying to achieve long­term?

Objectives

  • What goals need to be reached in order to achieve the overall vision? ­
  • Are there several parallel goals?
  • Are there multiple phases/milestones needed to reach a goal?

2. EXTERNAL CONDITIONS

Market trends

  • What trends are relevant?
  • Are they in your favour?
  • If not, are you willing to adapt your business to them? ­
  • Are there other markets that are relevant?
  • What/who are the related industries, companies?

Competition

  • Who/what is currently solving similar problems / needs for the customer?

Target Audience

An important aspect is to identify the users’ different processes. For example, purchasing, decision making and search processes where the digital presence can support and drive these processes forward.

  • Who is your target audiences?
  • What role does/can your company or organization in the users life? ­
  • How does the customer lifecycle and buying process look like?
  • What specific needs, behaviors and motivations of the users?

3) STRATEGY & DIGITAL IMPLEMENTATION

  • Where will you be establishing your presence? Why?
  • What resources and organization are needed?
    • Initially?
    • Continuously? ­
  • What content and/or activities should be part of the operation?

 

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

­ Dr. Seuss.

Good Luck!

What is Digital Strategy?

For me, discovering my role as a strategist was a pretty quick process. Even though nobody is fully taught, it felt like I got the hang of the fundamentals early on and understood the overall value of it. I can’t count the number of times in the past year that I’ve been asked what I do for a living. In the beginning I answered enthusiastically “I’m a digital strategist”, but the person who had asked me always seemed more confused than satisfied by my answer. Reoccuring replies would be: “Oh, so you make websites then?”, “Wow, that sounds too complicated for me” but the most common response had to be “Sorry, I have no idea what that is”.

So I tried a new approach. Being a digital strategist the simplified version.

“Take any company (it can be new or existing) and the Internet and combine the two.”

In other words, the question that a strategist answers/advises on is: “To make the most of your business/product/service etc, how should you be working in digital channels?”

I enjoy reading articles that break down “complex” terms/models/processes or anything else that seems to have developed different meanings for different people and that is what inspired this blogseries. Not everybody has to use the same methods, have the same philosophies or the same working process as everybody else. Our individual approaches are what makes us unique, however when I discuss industry related topics with others in my field, I expect certain words to have a universal meaning.

WHAT IS DIGITAL STRATEGY?

A Digital strategy is a long term plan for how to reach and/or optimize business objectives via digital channels. This can of course include non-digital mediums or channels, but is then more commonly referred to as a omnichannel strategy (“seamless channels”).

The development of a digital (or omnichannel) strategy is a wide range process addressing everything from background and current market situations, performance goals, roadmapping, channels, publishing platforms, content strategy, planning for implementation as well as defining resources and organization needed for initial launch and upkeep and of course the measuring of success.

The traditional Gap-Model sets the conditions for the strategy by creating a situation analysis, with clearly defined problem areas followed by a goal for a desired future state. Letting the method and strategy development “fill the gaps”. During the initial stage it’s important to define goals and objectives that allows for monitoring and evaluating the work.

The situational analysis involves having an understanding of the project requirements. What is the situation today and how we ended up here? What problems and challenges are there? What are the primary driving forces inspiring/driving the strategy?

THE STRATEGY IS CENTERED ON THREE MAIN AREAS.

Market conditions

Mapping the business environment enables identification and understanding for the roles of the various stakeholders and operators in the industry, and helps determine which business models that are appropriate and how to position the brand for maximum effect.

  • Who/what is currently solving similar problems / needs for the customer?
  • How is the market organized?
  • Are there other markets that are relevant?
  • What/who are the related industries, companies?
  • Who are the competitors?
  • What trends are relevant?

Business and brand

Mapping the overall business goals and business processes aims to identify the issues and challenges facing the organization and also facilitates setting goals and distribute them between digital and analogue channels.

  • What are the organization’s most important challenges?
  • How is the business currently marketed, its products or services?
  • What physical (and ev. Digital) venues you act in today?

Users/Customers

When understanding user needs, motivations and goals in relation to the brand/business and the web, we are able to develop more accurate and customized strategies, goals and means of reaching them. An important aspect is also to identify the users’ different processes. For example, purchasing, decision making and search processes where the digital presence can support and drive these processes forward.

  • Who is the target audience?
  • What role does/can your company or organization in the users life?
  • How does the customer lifecycle and buying process look like?
  • What specific needs, behaviors and motivations of the users?

The importance of Strategy during peace and war.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
- Sun Tzu

The word strategy and it’s meaning has long been associated with warfare and battles of some kind, while in fact a strategy is the utilization of a nation’s resources, through large-scale and long-term planning, to ensure security or victory in war and peace. Tactics however are about deploying and managing troops, ships and aircrafts in effective maneuvers to achieve the objectives which the strategy has defined and are therefore much more rooted in the execution of battle.

BUSINESS

If we look at how strategy and tactics are used within businesses, one can notice the same pattern and usage, but not only do the strategy and tactics create a synergy, the one needs the other in order to have any effect at all. Because every company has limited resources, strategy is used to create a guide for a series of actions that different departments or teams should take.

A strategy without assigned tactics is basically a big plan but no action. If you use tactics without a strategy, things usually tend to be chaotic and sometimes even damaging. Either way, you won’t be able to measure the success of your venture, without knowing both what you are measuring and what the expected value or result is, which means that choosing how to allocate your resources in the future for maximum efficiency is going to be a shot in the dark.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN STRATEGY AND TACTICS

There are of course many different ways that strategy and tactics differ from each other, however to make a contribution to clearing things up in my own industry I’m going to focus on three main areas; Purpose, Duration and Output.

The purpose of strategy is to identifying clear objectives to promote the overall organization and organizing resources. While the purpose of tactics are the use of specific resources to achieve milestones that support the defined mission.

The durations varies between strategies and tactics. Strategy is considered a long term effort which rarely changes, while tactics adapt to market conditions and therefore are more interchangeable. What can cause a business to alter their strategies? I would say that if objectives associated to the overall mission are being added or changed the strategy should also be looked over as well, or if KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) aren’t performing as planned.

Expectations should also differ regarding output. Generally a strategy delivers organizational goals, plans and KPIs for measuring success. Where as tactical activities will generate deliverables and results.

WHATS & HOWS

I hope you’ve found this post interesting and/or useful so far, however strategies and tactics aren’t the end-all. They are part of a bigger picture, it’s pretty simple, the links or “phases” consist the following; Mission, Objectives, Strategy, Execution and Tactics. These links fall into 1 of 2 categories, “what’s” and “how’s”.

A mission is a “what”, and defines a very large and long-term outcome of an activity. Objectives, strategies, execution and tactics can all be used to get there, but it’s mission that is ultimately to be fulfilled. The mission is often the vision that a CEO develops or is recruited to achieve for their company.

Objectives are the goals towards which the efforts and actions are directed. Goals are also definitions about “what” is to be done but are smaller in scale than the mission. There may be several goals and milestones to be achieved in order to achieve a mission, but there is usually only one mission and the mission is thus the ultimate goal.

Strategy is “how” to achieve a milestone, a goal or even a mission . It is a well thought out and organized plan, method, or list of actions that should be used to achieve the result.

The execution is “what” is being done to meet or coordinate a strategy. In communications / marketing, this may mean ads, TV-commercials and web sites, social media channel etc. These means of communication are developed from a creative or strategic brief.

Tactics are also measures taken to achieve a greater purpose but on a smaller scale than during the execution phase. Tactical elements can be examples of how to vary the content of your ad , TV spot or marketing messages that you implement on your website or social media.

The mission dictates the long term business purpose and vision. The vision is broken down into one or more objectives and milestones and to concretize what needs to be achieved for that mission to be fulfilled. A strategy is developed by planning and prioritizing the approaches to how each goal is achieved and these strategies is the basis for the conceptualization of different types of implementations that enable fulfillment of the associated target. Channels and platforms are maintained, optimized, taken forward using tactical activities.

KEEPING THE PEACE

When you are working based on your own vision and your own goals, like this model enables you to do, the strategic and tactical decisions become almost automatically tailored to your specific needs. In the best of worlds, you will be able to further develop your business effectively and peacefully, but if worst come to worst you can also go into combat with an effective attack and defense.

However if you start in the other end, with only ill-conceived tactics, you will quickly realize that it is hard to define an appropriate implementation, a strategy or a vision in retrospect and your resources that could have been used to drive the business forward will henceforth need to be allocated to constantly defending yourself against competitors and their strategic tactics. So, the next time you’re thinking about gathering your troops, make sure you’re starting from the right place.

The real and lasting victories are those of peace, and not of war.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Strategy, tactics and randomly “winging it”.

You might say that digital strategy is a relatively “new” field, this is true depending on how you see it.
Communication and marketing have more or less always been planned operations within businesses, however they seemed to have been tactically planned and not strategically.
The digital media era and the use of digital channels as a form of advertising, business development platform, like many other new things, started out with alot of trial and error. New channels and mediums started to make their appearance and both consumers and businesses rushed to get in on the action. A few years into the “digital age”, a bunch of campaigns and a lot of money later, what have we learned? Well for instance, a tactical approach is better than no approach at all, but the real winners are the ones who have a strategic and long-term plan for their digital presence.

I recently attended a seminar with the rather controversial name “digital strategy is dead, long live strategy”. By the end of it, I realized that the title had very little to do with the actual moral of the story. The point was that communication should be strategic whether the medium is digital or analogue, with that I agree. Some businesses operate in both analogue and digital fields while other only exist in a digital realm, either way a communication strategy is needed for optimal success.

That makes sense doesn’t it? However it has been estimated that 99% of all business don’t work this way. So what about the ones who do, or think they do? For years, experts have been trying out the latest “things” as some sort or peerpressure solution. “Everybody else is doing it, so should we. Everybody has a site, everybody has a blog, everyone is developing apps, everyone has a newsletter, everybody’s on social media, lets tweet, instagram, facebook, youtube and vine until we’re blue in the face!”

So does this mean that all the campaigns and communication and work that is being done a tailored solution and part of a strategic plan to reach specific digital objectives?

“Hmm, well no, but these are the most popular channels. We can’t tell you exactly what it’s going to do to improve the business but everybody else seems to be doing the same thing it so it must be great!”

The insight that there is no “one size fits all” solution is a bit bittersweet, I know. But look on the bright side, now that you know this you can focus on developing a strategy containing the best options for you!