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Digital -- Not A One Size Fits All Solution for Every Business

03/08/2016 04:44 pm ET | Updated Mar 08, 2016

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As I read through blogs and social media posts and take a glance at marketing campaigns on a daily basis, I get the impression the word "digital" has become a universal word that a lot of companies use when referring to their marketing and strategy. But what in the world does that really mean anyway? When one company uses "digital" does it mean the same as when the next company uses it too?

And "digital strategy" makes it even more complex. If a digital strategy is created for one business, is it the same process for every business even though the same words are used? Hmm...

Here's a good example of how Digital can vary greatly between businesses

Company A thinks they need to be more involved in digital because they are not doing much at all. They are smart enough to understand that it is important, but are not sure exactly how to get started. That could be true, but how do they start to plan for digital? How does it get created and implemented? What is the purpose? How is it measured? How about this one... What is the goal?

Company B is already involved in digital to some degree and can see how it is very important to their business. They want more because they know it is critical for long-term sustainability and growth. In this case, the two companies understand that digital is important, but they do not know how to move forward with a plan and they are not sure exactly what digital is and how it fits into a plan.

Company C is deeply involved in digital on the web, social media, SEO, SEM / advertising... you name it. Because they have already seen the value of how digital works and even the why it works, they obviously want to leverage the power of it even more. This is very similar to Company A and B because they know it's important and see value. However, how can they engage with their prospective customers even further to gain increased marketshare?

Digital Is Not Always Clear -- It Can Be Very Blurry

These are very common scenarios I have seen in companies big and small. Yours just may fit into one of these. Here's the challenging part. What is digital? And more importantly, how can a digital strategy work for your company? These are very blurry questions that are not easily answered. In my opinion, every company based on size, online maturity, marketing infrastructure and process and even industry amd market segment differs greatly. What digital and strategy mean to one will not mean the exact same for the other. So, what does a company do in order to discern how digital can be most effective for the company?

Define Digital For Your Company

In order to make the most of what digital is and how to wrap a strategy around it, first of all, define what digital means to your company. What tools and technology are used that you believe are "digital?" Then assess how you are using them (good or bad). Next, add to the digital equation the digital tools that you need to implement to accomplish business goals. This is the hard part because you may not know what they are. This is where the strategy comes in. It looks at business goals, the market, the online universe, the products and services, the prospective customer, the competition and many other variances of your business and it creates a plan for what to use and how to use digital to reach your goals.

Digital is a massive universe of tactics and strategy, tools and technology, creative and distribution, mobile and immediacy, connection and conversion. There is not any one way to define how it works perfectly for every company.

Take the time to think and plan up front before you dive into digital. It's easy to get caught-up in the excitement and energy part of digital campaigns, because it's everywhere and it's easy to see what other companies are doing. It may look cool and even highly enticing, but is the outcome of what other companies are doing really applicable to your company's business process, goals, model and workflow? Hmm... this is where many companies fail to back up and start from scratch to build a blueprint for their own digital success.

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