For Digital, Strategy is Where You Add Value

The last couple of years has seen a proliferation of agencies dedicated to creating "digital" work. But as you will know, not all agencies are created equal — "digital" to one agency may mean "banner ads" while to another it could mean "mobile" or "microsite" or "web application". The degree of complexity (and integration) associated with a digital solution can vary widely, but the gaps between agencies are beginning to narrow. After all, it is no longer about the technology or the programming — that is a commodity.

Increasingly agencies have to look to strategy to differentiate themselves and to deliver added value to their clients. And this field is scarcely populated. Or populated by strategists with only a few years’ experience — finding those with 5+ years working in digital is difficult. Those of us who have worked with digital strategy and planning for longer — that come with a depth of knowledge and experience and are able to bring a business focus to their work are as rare as hen’s teeth. But as agencies seek to build on their strategic role and move into a role of trusted business advisor, these folks will be indispensible.  As Wayne Arnold, CEO of full service agency Profero says in this great article:

We’re talking to global marketing directors who think about how to
sell more product, rather than how they tell people their chocolate bar
tastes good.

This means that our senior strategists need to be able to talk business. We need to be able to talk numbers, correlations and profit and loss. We need to demonstrate where and how our efforts will impact sales cycles and revenue projections. And we need to understand content. It needs to be all about numbers and stories. Digital strategy is no longer about campaigns, but about solving business problems. It is about adding value in a creative way.

4 thoughts on “For Digital, Strategy is Where You Add Value

  1. Gavin-
    Great post.
    When I first left the corporate world (as SVP marketing and business development at a telecom startp-up) and became a communications consultant, I thought that most of my value would be strategic. I thought I would help young companies draw straight lines through goals, strategies and tactics. Well, as it turns out, no one wants to pay for this.
    All clients want is an end product – a data sheet, a flash video, a white paper. But, more often than not, they haven’t thought through the strategic stuff. What I have found is that I get hired to create tactical products but have to take clients through the strategy to get it done. Very backwards.

  2. I completely agree. The cry that I often hear relative to serving clients via emerging marketing is this, “so where is the profitability?”
    Strategy is the answer. You become your client’s resultant. Like a consultant, but you produce results. That, along with brilliant creative, is where we provide the most benefit, and that’s also where our profits reside.
    Great post. Many thanks.

  3. Jeff … very true — often there is a tactical need but no strategic vision. But then, that’s why we need consultants 😉
    Bryan … yes, the connection with creativity is the key to unlocking the value. The NMA article covers that too.

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