Here’s a real scenario.

You’re a marketer. You’ve decided to be smart and bring in a specialist to work with you on your digital strategy. They’ve come in and begun by pouring over your marketing plan. They’ve spoken with numerous stakeholders. They’ve analysed micro and macro environments to determine your objectives. You’ve worked together to develop your brand’s digital value proposition and the most effective communication channels. Now, with the digital strategy in your hands, what do you do now?

What happens next is the biggest challenge of them all: getting the strategy ‘across the line’.

Some marketers don’t realise they are tasked not only with creating the strategy, but also with making it happen. And this involves one of the hardest tasks of all: cultural change.
The strategy is likely to impact more than marketing. Its touch points could affect sales, customer service, fulfillment, investor relations and IT departments – just to name a few. You can probably come to understand why senior executives sit on endorsing any strategy, let alone a digital strategy, where governance, or even control over the channel is a tug-of-war for many organisations.

So, with this understood how do you get a strategy across the line?

As a marketer trying to get digital taken seriously in your organisation, how should you go about it? Well, like all things it comes to communication (and knowing your audience). Lucky you’re in marketing, hey! (Unfortunately marketers have enough difficulty in communicating the role and benefits of marketing let alone the digital form of it.) And in the case of digital, not only do we need to communicate benefits but we also have to educate people at the same time. You simply can’t expect an executive to read a digital strategy and commit time to understand it.

The weighty strategy document you have needs to be turned into a story; a story in a language that everyone understands – from the 60 year-old senior exec to the geeky IT manager. It needs to turn foreign concepts – concepts that people may not be prepared to admit they don’t understand – into something everyone can understand. It should be a story that is repeatable (by many).
In my experience, these stories are best communicated by a storyteller and their storybook (i.e Powerpoint/Keynote presentation). I refer to this as the ‘Vision’ presentation.

It’s all about taking them on a journey, a story of results for both organisation and customers.

The ‘Vision’ presentation is highly visual and whilst the ‘story’ may differ dependant on the nature (and politics) of the situation, a few things should remain constant. It should explain where we have come from, where we are going and what that may look like.

In my case, I’ll run through a couple of scenarios based on the research that we’ve conducted. I either engage a graphic designer to develop high-level designs or develop ‘polished’ wireframes in-house to bring the scenarios to life. Either way, the objective is to turn words into pictures and tell a story in a way that anyone can understand.

I know a lot of people, not only marketers, struggle with the concept that part of their role is to sell a vision to their management. But for many of us, we’re under increasing pressure from executives to take ownership of the channel and demonstrate its value to the organisation whilst at the same time we can be under siege from other areas of the business who are fighting for control of the ‘digital patch’.

Marketers must be business leaders. And good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.