Sack your digital strategist…

That’s right, Sack them! Sack them if they wrap an air of mystique around digital strategy. Sack them if they cannot explain why you need one. Sack them if they can’t demonstrate the process that has led to their strategic recommendations. And sack them if you are not confident in their abilities to communicate the strategy to the business on your behalf… because it’s too damned important (read: expensive) to get wrong.

Now I’m going to assume as marketers that we all know that digital strategy is like than any other strategy. It is a plan of action to accomplish specific goals, which are usually monetary. And that digital strategy is a channel marketing strategy. It defines how a company should set channel-specific objectives and develop a proposition and communications consistent with the characteristics of the digital channel and consumer usage of it.

So, is that what you get from your digital strategist? Do they explain things in marketing terms when speaking with you… or do they use jargon-speak? Can they explain how it dovetails into your marketing plan… or do they not really understand what the hell a marketing plan is? If you cornered them in the office would they be able to clearly explain their methodology, explaining how they use web analytics to benchmark performance, research to determine market demand or persona development to draw out motivations and behavioural segmentation… or do you think at that point they would curl up into the foetal position if put to that test? And do they understand that social media is another name for word-of-mouth… or do they think that social media and strategy mean the same thing?

Oh yeah… and would you trust them to have a coffee with the CEO (or marketing director) in order to get buy-in on the digital strategy, alone… or would you rather take a bullet? In all seriousness, would you? That buy-in is critical. Don’t underestimate it. Digital strategists need not only be able to develop digital strategy based on a solid understanding of the business’ marketing challenges by way of a sound methodology but, perhaps even more importantly, they need to be able to communicate it to your audience.

So ask yourself these three questions:

  • Do I trust my digital strategist?
  • Am I confident in my strategist’s skills?
  • Would I stake my professional reputation on them?

If the answer to any of these is ‘no’ then… sack your digital strategist!

As you may have guessed by now, the quality of the work (or lack thereof at times) digital strategists provide is a real bugbear for me. If you’d like to share your stories I’d be more than happy to hear from you. Leave a comment below, email me or contact me via LinkedIn.