Stop talk­ing about dig­i­tal

The con­cept of a stand­alone dig­i­tal strat­egy is out­dated and ir­rel­e­vant, says UM’s Jad Daou. Today, dig­i­tal is an in­te­gral part of ev­ery­thing

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - J AD DAOU Me­dia di­rec­tor at UM

UM’s Jad Daou says the no­tion of a stand­alone strat­egy should be con­signed to the ad­ver­tis­ing his­tory books.

How many me­dia sages does it take to change an in­te­grated mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions light bulb?

None; they’re still wait­ing for the light at the end of the tun­nel. Im­mersed in the larger-than-life po­ten­tial of the dig­i­tal world, brand hold­ers ask, “What is your dig­i­tal strat­egy?” This throws me­dia plan­ners and strate­gists into a whirl­wind to crack a stand­alone strat­egy.

Our me­dia fluff peers love to post on LinkedIn: “There is no dig­i­tal strat­egy in a com­mu­ni­ca­tions world, but a com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­egy in a dig­i­tal world.” We preach it, but do the brand cus­to­di­ans plan their me­dia strate­gies around it?

Ac­cord­ing to Gart­ner’s 2015-16 Chief Mar­ket­ing Of­fi­cer Spend sur­vey, 98 per cent of mar­keters say on­line and off­line mar­ket­ing is merg­ing. In­ter­est­ingly, 10 per cent claim to have moved be­yond dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing tech­niques and are ex­pand­ing mar­ket­ing’s role to new dig­i­tally led busi­ness mod­els.

Some clients and me­dia peers still think of dig­i­tal and its sub-cat­e­gories of mo­bile, search and so­cial as ‘chan­nels’ where cam­paigns ex­tend from other plat­forms (the all-mighty TV) and a way to get en­gage­ment via likes and fol­lows. We now live in a world where the line be­tween what’s dig­i­tal and what isn’t is as ir­rel­e­vant as those likes and fol­lows we’ve been chas­ing for too long.

Flash­back to 2010, when me­dia and ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­tries alike spoke of how the dig­i­tal age is the fu­ture. Busi­ness pro­fes­sion­als equipped and trained them­selves for the new age of mar­ket­ing and re­cruited their ‘dig­i­tal ex­perts’ (the ones we held on to so frag­ilely, and still do).

In a con­nected ecosys­tem, we recog­nise the po­ten­tial of on­line videos, the in­ter­net of things, multi-screen­ing, and e-com­merce. The owned, earned, shared and paid split, when crafted, re­sults in www.brand.com as owned as­sets, earned as so­cial springs, paid pro­gram­matic and shared part­ner­ships. How much more does dig­i­tal need to weigh in un­til it comes un­der the comms strat­egy?

The man­ners and means that en­cour­age the sep­a­ra­tion of dig­i­tal strate­gies are many, how­ever these are the ones I have solemnly wit­nessed.

Agen­cies that work in iso­la­tion due to client de­mand are fol­low­ing a recipe for fail­ure. Go­ing back to ba­sics, ask your­self: what should an in­te­grated mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions (IMC) strat­egy be? By def­i­ni­tion an IMC strat­egy en­sures all forms of a brand’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion are linked, with the pur­pose of cre­at­ing a con­nected ecosys­tem. In other words, a paid-owned-earned (and shared, with some brands) model.

In an IMC brief­ing three main par­ties should be present: me­dia, brand and PR agen­cies. For holis­tic and con­nected IMC, it is im­per­a­tive that the agen­cies are given sep­a­rate ob­jec­tives with a uni­fied busi­ness ap­proach – this is where col­lab­o­ra­tion starts. Be­fore plung­ing into a full IMC cam­paign, think of as­sess­ing the brand’s short­term/tac­ti­cal en­gage­ment vi­sion and long-term brand-love as­pi­ra­tion.

As the industry be­comes more frag­mented, with a plethora of me­dia plat­forms and ver­ti­cal skill sets, so does the prod­uct out­put; com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­egy, dig­i­tal strat­egy, so­cial strat­egy, mo­bile strat­egy, con­tent strat­egy, in­flu­encer strat­egy, TV strat­egy and out­door strat­egy. This frag­men­ta­tion di­lutes the com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­egy’s po­ten­tial.

Brands should have ac­cess to a di­verse range of tal­ent, ex­pert in tra­di­tional, dig­i­tal, strat­egy, data, con­tent and more. How­ever, if done cor­rectly, chan­nel plan­ning rather than chan­nel strate­gis­ing is the key to suc­ceed­ing in a com­plete IMC ap­proach.

Never put all your eggs in one bas­ket. Spread­ing risk across non-cor­re­lat­ing skill sets is nec­es­sary. Con­struc­tive cross-col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween tal­ent will re­sult in a prod­uct-cen­tric out­put with a holis­tic view of a com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­egy. Putting this into ac­tion, dur­ing an IMC pre­sen­ta­tion, we en­sure that each of our tal­ent ex­perts has a spe­cific sec­tion to present, which gives the client an un­der­stand­ing that this IMC cam­paign has a holis­tic ap­proach and not a frag­mented one.

The avail­abil­ity of di­verse me­dia plat­forms has al­lowed us to op­ti­mise and reach a large num­ber of peo­ple at a rel­a­tively low cost. How­ever it is what we’re com­mu­ni­cat­ing that needs to change. You can cre­ate con­tent, use the lat­est tech­nol­ogy and the big­gest so­cial net­work as a tool to broad­cast a mes­sage that few peo­ple ac­tu­ally care about, or you can use it to build a com­mu­nity and in­spire peo­ple. The first of these ap­proaches is about vol­ume and im­pres­sions; the sec­ond is about value and in­spi­ra­tion. For the launch of Sprite Cricket Stars’ third sea­son, we trans­formed the use of ra­dio to be able to in­spire and build a com­mu­nity where we cre­ated a ra­dio pre­sen­ter bat­tle be­tween six of the UAE’s top ra­dio sta­tions and al­lowed con­sumers to col­lect ‘runs’ and work col­lab­o­ra­tively with one an­other and with their favourite ra­dio sta­tion to en­sure vic­tory.

On the other end of the spec­trum, you have the fifth ‘P’ of mar­ket­ing. After prod­uct, price, pro­mo­tion and place comes peo­ple, ar­guably the most im­por­tant el­e­ment in today’s mar­ket­ing mix. We can have all the right in­gre­di­ents in the world, but with­out the right at­ti­tude we are des­tined for fail­ure. At­ti­tude is what makes a big dif­fer­ence. Adopt­ing the right at­ti­tude can con­vert a neg­a­tive stress into a pos­i­tive one, man­age and negate egos, and even­tu­ally con­trib­ute to a pos­i­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion.

In your next big meet­ing, ban­ish the phrase “dig­i­tal strat­egy”. It is time to start think­ing more com­pre­hen­sively and func­tion­ing more col­lab­o­ra­tively.

The avail­abil­ity of di­verse me­dia plat­forms has al­lowed us to op­ti­mise and reach a large num­ber of peo­ple at a rel­a­tively low cost.

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