It’s a big question really and something much of the “client side” marketing community look upon with horror.
You can hear the board meetings “We need a digital strategy, what’s the role of digital?”, eyes on marketing .. a tentative nod and then the fun begins. The reality is that for any marketing team to create a “digital strategy” is nonsense. Its like saying we need to review how we are using plastic or “Bob? Where is the role of paper report within the marketing function I asked for?”. Doesn’t have quite the ring to it does it.
We all see digital as a transmission method (internet, web, email, radio, TV … watches), yet we keep on trying to give it a strategic objective. Most companies will have a very clear idea of what they need to achieve, how they create and execute a plan and fingers crossed measure it. Whether its above-the-line, promotions, PR, on pack or focus groups for customer input, the roles are clear and robust. We should then be asking “How can digital help the bit I am doing / or not”. In essence digital needs to be slave to the function and should never sit as a strategic objective.
Many companies have used digital to develop or launch new products or services, driven some great awareness, gor customer feedback or sold more product but all of these were locked onto an existing area (NPD, advertising, insight and sales) and any digital thinking should ultimately be coming out of those teams, not some dude on the top the floor with “Digital Strategy” stuck on their door.
If you try and tell most people that if all goes well there will be no digital strategy, just digital helping to deliver the existing strategy, they look at you like you are crazy. Time to decentralize it and get everyone thinking.