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3 minutes reading time (629 words)

Digital Marketing Strategy: Developing a Winning Plan


After reading Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, I finally feel I’d connected with someone who can really breakdown the meaning of strategy without giving into MBA-speak. Given the authors are legendary P&G CEO A.G. Lafley and Harvard School of Management Dean Roger Martin, it’s no wonder. While Lafley and Martin write the book within the context of general business and product management strategy, I thought it’d be helpful to apply their approach to developing a digital marketing strategy.

Winning is the core of any strategy. Whether you’re a one-person start-up or with a corporation: you want to win. Even a non-profit wants to win for the audience they serve.

I found Lafley & Martin’s definition of strategy spot on and something I could relate to:  “… a strategy is a coordinated and integrated set of five choices: a winning aspiration, where to play, how to win, core capabilities, and management systems.” When flushed out, the five choices provide a framework that will lead to your custom digital marketing playbook. Let’s take a look at their five.

5 questions to ask yourself when developing your digital marketing strategy:

1. What is Your Winning Aspiration?

Every organization has a purpose. What’s yours? The winning aspiration isn’t the same as a mission or vision statement. It is a set of aspirations of what your ideal future will look like for your digital marketing program when your goals have been achieved.

2. Where Will You Play?

Choosing where you’ll compete for digital customers will have a critical impact on resource allocation. Keep in mind attempting to be all things to all possible customers is a losing strategy. Considerations include:

  • In which markets: local, regional, national, international?
  • Which customers: online-only, drive in-store purchase, multi-channel?
  • Which channels: search engine optimization vs. social communities vs. paid media?
  • Which device categories: mobile, tablets, or desktop?
  • Which stage of customer:  acquiring new vs. building a loyal base?

3. How Will You Win?

After determining where you will play for customers, you need to define how you will win. Getting “the win” requires creating value that is sustainable and unique from your competitors. This is why your customers chose you over the competition. If you and your competitors all have websites that have similar looks, offers, or purchase processes you’ll need to set your company apart from the pack.

4. What Capabilities Must Be in Place to Win?

Capabilities are the collective competencies available to execute specific where-to-play and how-to-win choices. Do you have business analysts, content creators, community managers, SEO talent, paid search experts, web & app developers, graphic designers, digital media planners, strategists, etc. either internal or external to execute? Given what you plan to execute you’ll need the right skill sets available to you.

5. What Systems are Needed to Support the Strategic Choices?

The old adage of “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” holds true. The systems need to accurately convey if the execution of the strategy is on the mark and delivering results. For the digital marketer, a good starting point is your website analytics platform. Are you really making use of it to 1) make informed decisions and 2) is it configured to do so? Be honest.

Nearly everyone has Google Analytics installed and 9 of 10 installations we look at only scratch the surface of its capabilities. Dig deeper and explore features that provide insights beyond the basics of impressions and clicks.

In closing, the process of developing a winning strategy is an iterative process. There are many components, moving parts and individuals that have valuable insights. Assemble a team that can lend differing perspectives and regularly ask yourself critical questions about how well you’ve developed a digital marketing playbook and if you’re following the game plan.

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