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10 Tips for Creative Digital Strategy

6 July 2015

Digital strategy. As a term it’s becoming increasingly overworked. Whatever you call it, digital strategy is essentially a way of thinking about the digital world of the future and how you and your organisation’s communication fit into it.

As you can imagine, we work a lot with our clients on their digital futures.

These proven tips will give you the confidence to know your strategy is leading you in the right direction.


1. Invest in the strategic ‘design process’

“It’s not the plan that matters, it’s the planning.” Edward Deming

The digital communication landscape changes everyday – the technology, your audience and your organisation. Think about strategy as the process that allows you to grow and adapt to these changes, engage, look forward, and be ready for the future.


2. Be conscious of the process

“Know where you are in the strategy process… what methods to use in that stage, and what your goals are.” – Stanford University D.School

If strategy is a process, then it’s vital to be aware of where you’re at in the cycle. For example, endlessly proliferating ideas are often a sign that you need to clarify objectives, get feedback or start testing them out. Knowing where you’re at will save a lot of time and energy (and headaches).


3. Define purpose and problem

You define purpose and vision at the start of the process, right? Not necessarily.

As a strategy leader, you may have to revisit your objectives and redefine the purpose a number of times – you may want to engage more people, when things change or when new ideas arise. The trick is to know when and how to redefine.


4. Remember web visitors are human, too

Without physically seeing our audience, it’s easy to forget that our strategy is fundamentally about relationships and communication with real people. Your audience consists of individuals with different lives, needs, expectations and skills. Relationships ground your strategy. Developing audience ‘personas’ is a good way of understanding and developing methods for communicating with your people.


5. Get the right people in the room

Good strategy is multi-disciplinary. But we’re not talking about endless meetings and committees. You need the right people to be involved because you need multiple points of view. Add to this your clear process and you can show participants how they can contribute to the big picture and what role they will play.


6. Clarify roles

Some of the greatest insights our clients have is when they realise their role in the strategic process – when leaders understand they’re not solely responsible for the outcome, but they are responsible for the process. Someone or some body has to be able to step away from the operations in order to have an overall picture.


7. Think like a child, think like an adult

Teacher: What are you drawing?

Little Girl: I'm drawing a picture of God.

Teacher: But nobody knows what God looks like.

Little girl: They will in a minute.

With their limited experience of the world, children are excellent ‘divergent’ thinkers. Kids just aren’t constrained in their thinking like adults. Divergent thinking is the foundation of creativity, and creativity is what will make your digital communication unique. Again, the trick is to know your process and when to reign in divergent thinking – and then think convergently like an adult again.


8. Think with your hands

"All models are wrong but some are useful” - Geroge Box

You get better meetings when participants are engaged by doing an activity. Some of my best results have been when I’ve asked people to design communication systems with LEGO. Yes, LEGO! Think of new activities to do in your meetings. You’ll get great results because humans are natural doers and making meetings about doing rather than talking improves outcomes and shifts mindsets.


9. Test, test and then test again

Usability testing is a behavior-based approach to walking in your visitor’s shoes. There are many powerful simple ways to test and get feedback in the digital environment. The great thing about digital is that it’s so flexible. The bonus is that prototypes are cheap and quick to build and change.


10. Face the future with confidence

"The best way to predict the future is to create it" – Abraham Lincoln

Finally, it’s hard to argue with Abraham. Your digital strategy is a productive process – look after it, don’t be afraid to define and redefine your purpose, build your team and define roles, think about your audience, be creative and test your ideas. 

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