Simplify Your Digital Marketing Strategy

We’ve all seen those powerpoint presentations – 70+ slides on your digital marketing strategy for the next year. We’ve all sat through those meetings – 4+ hours of a dry, dull, state-of-the-state review of where you’re at and where you’re going, with every data point, minute tactical detail, and unnecessary supporting graphic included. People tend to zone out 20 minutes into these meetings, and nobody ends up remembering that gigantic powerpoint you worked so hard to put together. There’s too much bulk and not enough bite – too much fluff and not enough action. Or sometimes…too much action.

The next time you’re tasked with putting together a digital marketing strategy, think back to the scenario above. The goal of a strategy is to lead the marketing charge, to steer the ship, to outline the plan of attack. If it’s too complicated and over-engineered, it probably won’t get done.  

So, what will get done? What can you do to ensure that a strategy will be easily understood, travel “up” to the C-suite well, and – most importantly – get accomplished over its promised timeline? SIMPLIFY.

A Simplified Approach to Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy

To start with, include only key components necessary to executing solid internet marketing strategies. The simpler each part is outlined, the more chance for success everyone has at comprehending, agreeing with, and executing. So…

Start with these four parts

  • Objectives: What are you trying to accomplish? 
    • This is the most important part of a strategy; without objectives, you are rudderless. What’s a ship without a rudder? Adrift. Don’t just drift: give your marketing ship direction. 
    • Be as clear and concise as possible, even if it takes you HOURS to write these. As Lance Hollander likes to say, “I would have written a shorter email if I had more time.” 
      • Everyone should be able to walk out of your internet marketing strategy meeting with an idea of what you want to accomplish. 
      • Think of sound bites that can be regurgitated over the life of the engagement…brought up time and again.
      • They don’t get old, but they do get remembered. 
    • Keep the number of objectives reasonable (strive for 2 – 4) so that people can quickly agree on them and move forward. Don’t leave that meeting without a YES on your objectives! This will set your strategy up for success. 
  • KPIs: How will you measure the success (or failure) of each objective? 
    • Spell it out. Make it clear (see Lance’s quote above). 
    • Make sure everyone understands and agrees on the KPIs – again, without buy-in, you’re sunk.
    • Side note: remember to report on these throughout the engagement (quarterly if it’s an annual strategy, for example) so that everyone is aware that you’re accomplishing what you said you would.
  • Initiatives: What tactics will you employ to reach these objectives? 
    • Think about marketing channels, tools needed, assets required, etc. 
    • Add a visual on each initiative slide that ties back to its related objective so that everyone connects the dots.
  • Timeline: When does each initiative start? For how long? When does each end? 
    • Be reasonable and flexible with this section; it can be just a starting point. 
    • People like to see that you’ve thought about all the angles, though (“When will this happen?” is often the first thing a client asks), so don’t skip this one.

Create a short, iterative presentation

  • Aim for no more than 10 slides. It’s a challenge – but you can do it. People don’t have patience for long, drawn-out presentations, as I’m sure you’ve experienced. 
  • Start the planning process early so you have plenty of time to iterate. 
    • Include only a few key people to hash out the 10 slides, then present to your core team.
      • Get feedback, change things if you need to.
      • Repeat as necessary.
    • Polish your plan ‘til it shines, but don’t aim for perfection – that will never happen.

Buy-in is Key

Once your plan is polished, present to all stakeholders in the spirit of an open conversation (NOT a dictation). A simple, straightforward digital marketing strategy discussion between all involved parties is much more likely to get you the buy-in that you need. A dictation of objectives without room for iteration will most likely get you nowhere. Everyone should walk away from your strategy meeting jazzed about the upcoming work, not annoyed at having to follow a strict, unyielding plan.

How will you approach your next digital marketing strategy? Hopefully the answer is simple.

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