Opinion: Decoded - scaling the #NeverNormal of digital businesses with effective strategy

The author decodes how a strategists' role has become even more significant in this #nevernormal of digital briefs and shares his take on an effective strategic approach

Jun 16, 2022 05:36:00 AM | Article | Puneet Bajaj

The asks have evolved:
 
Then: 
“How do I get Facebook likes?” “How do I get page followers?” “Okay, how do I crack Instagram?” “Should we work on a platform-specific strategy?” 
 
Now:
“I want to leverage digital to make my brand ‘contemporary” “I want to increase my sales in the west and south. How can digital help in that?”
 
That’s been the evolution of digital briefs, accelerated by the pandemic. A few years ago, social media was the be-all and end-all of digital. As the ecosystem evolved, we understood the true potential of digital. I prefer to add more words to it—the true potential of digital in solving business problems.
 
Now, with the change in behaviours during the pandemic months, brands have also become more conscious of digital's role in brand building and business growth. 
 
Chasing the questions
 
Digital plays a critical role in today's marketing not because it's a fad but because people spend more time here than anywhere else, doing different things, leaving time to study and better our interactions with them. This is where digital strategists can take a leaf out of how traditional planners have been digging deep to find the questions. Yes, questions. The fun of strategy is to ask the 'right questions', probe further, and then discover answers. 
 
If you are not asking the right questions, chances are you’ll end up making a ppt that will just have the trending buzzwords of that period and little else. ‘New normal, ‘echo chambers’, ’gen z's, etc. Sounds familiar?
 
Digital's real value lies in sieving through the data that originates within and outside of it – both quantitative and qualitative and using it to inform your thought process in addressing business challenges. 
 
For instance, if people aren't buying enough from you, don't jump into doing a good, creative campaign with influencers by dividing your audience into cohorts because that's what your competitor did. 
 
First, see how they are spending money. How much of it are they spending on this category? How often? Look for patterns - where are they being regular, and where are they dropping off? How are they spending the seven minutes when they are on your website? Go deeper, then look back and start joining the dots.
 
The problem with taking things at face value
 
Asking the right questions starts with questioning the brief itself. When a client often briefs you with a specific problem, the chances are that it’s a symptom of a problem instead of the actual problem itself. To give tangible solutions, you need to look deeper. Once, a client briefed the team to do a vernacular, video-first campaign that would drive downloads in tier-3 markets. When we did our research, we found out the most significant barrier was the size of the app, seeing which people went away to the competitor’s lite app.
 
For another client, we found a big gap between when the brand started promoting products and when their target audience started thinking about it. If you only show up right at the moment of decision making, they’ve already made up their mind and gone with another brand they had been warming up to until that point.
 
All these were problems we identified when we dug deep. Not the ones that were outlined form the get-go. And once we got our hands dirty enough, we could leverage digital to build a solution which would sometimes be a tweak in marketing focus, a change in where we came across in a person’s journey, an app fix, or sometimes, a creative campaign. 
 
Digital isn't the end. It's the means to an end.
 
The end is solutions that help move the business forward. We must not limit our view of digital to only campaigns. Digital is a matured Pokémon waiting to win the fight. You have to know its strengths & say “I choose you”.
 
A finishing thought: 
 
For those looking to get into this field, I’ll tell you what I tell my team. Don’t worry about deadlines, and focus on problem-solving. The more fun we have solving problems, the less boring powerpoints will be.
 
The author is VP - strategy at Kinnect