Part 1 – The Digital Strategy Approach

Digital Marketing

A framework & tools to build a digital strategy quickly


If you ever done a strategy subject at an education institution, they almost always talk about it in theoretical concepts and the limited practical application that comes through is to form a group and write a lengthy strategic plan as an assignment applying various models like Porters 5 forces, BCG matrix, Gernier Theory and the like. These models and detailed analysis have their place especially if you’re looking to identify opportunities over the medium to long term, but when it comes to the digital world and you’re looking for something in the short to medium term to help quickly guide and align your business they can be overly cumbersome.

One of the biggest gaps I’ve noticed in my decade of consulting is the lack of skill in defining a business strategy, particularly when it comes to digital strategy. The ability to execute a digital strategy plan, alignment of it to organisational goals and metrics and the communication of it to the organisation seems to be a significant challenge for business across industry and no matter the size. This is supported by a recent Econsultancy report that says that “Marketers from companies across APAC say business strategy is the skill area of most importance when it comes to being a successful marketer in the digital age.” 61% of company and agency respondents put this skill as number one.

In my mind the gap here is that at no point through a marketers education or on the job training have they been provided with a robust framework, guidance and practical tools to be able to do this. Over this three-part series blog I want to walk you through and share with you the frameworks, workshop and tools to be able to run your own digital strategy session. In addition to this, if after reading the below you still don’t feel confident to run this on your own you are welcome to contact me and either myself or one of my colleagues would be happy to come and support you in running this with your organisation.

So let’s get into the nuts and bolts of how we run this and the tools we use. We run this an interactive workshop that will run for 1 – 1.5 hours depending on the number of senior stakeholders you have in the room, 1 hour for <=5 and 1.5 hours for >5.

Ensure to invite stakeholders that can relay the strategic vision and organisational goals of the business across every channel, brand and subsidiary you go to market. Without these folks in the room it’s going to be hard to get your businesses top level goals to align your activities too. It’s also important to get a good cross breadth of stakeholders in the room, I’ve had senior stakeholders in the room tell me what their organisational goals are and then debate with each other which goals are correct and which ones are the most important, you can only imagine then what is happening at the practitioner level within the business and how misalignment has occurred. I’ve even had senior stakeholders give me their top goals and then I’ve pointed to the back of the boardroom where there was a poster with the top goals that the business had communicated to the public and their shareholders and they were totally different, which is concerning, but certainly not the first time I had experienced this.

If you are going to invite some mid-level managers and juniors to the workshop this is fine, but monitor their input as quite often they will offer have tactical suggestions of goals and initiatives and may not be of a strategic nature and siloed to the business function in which they operate. The intention of the workshop is to get into the diaries of the senior stakeholders quickly and get their input, the tactical elements you will follow up after the workshop in 1:1 with the mid-level managers and practitioners.

Organise a room with sufficient space for everyone, a projector and a wide whiteboard (>1.5M) or a stand with a big sheet of butcher paper available to write down the inputs you get from the stakeholders and start to map these out left to write as you’ll see from the instructions below. Its important everyone can see the inputs and provide feedback on them.

I am going to provide you with two tools which you can download and customise as your own. The first is a powerpoint presentation to introduce the workshop, the agenda, the strategy framework and the follow up steps. The second is an excel spreadsheet in which you can insert the outputs from the workshop and the follow ups with the initiative owners and then push a button to render a Gantt chart and Tabular view of your digital strategy plan.

This concludes the initial approach for running the workshop, in the next series we will be covering the Digital Strategy Framework and then follow this up with the actual Exercise.

Digital Marketing

Posted on 11-15-2016


  • By Bill - 6:33 PM on April 24, 2017   Reply

    Hi Scott, this is a really great resource, thanks for sharing everything! We’re looking at introducing a digital learning strategy, which is a bit different from the broader digital strategy you’ve outlined here, but should be aligned with the enterprise strategy and goals. I’m going to study your material and if I can make sense of how to adapt it run a digital learning strategy roadmap workshop – I’ll let you know how what happens. Thanks again – Bill

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