A Pure Digital First Mindset Will Never Triumph
You can’t work to a pure digital first mindset. A portfolio strategy that has a plan at its core, wins.
It is a lovely feeling to hide behind the warm duvet that is the LinkedIn invite or championing that everyone should be on Snapchat, without necessarily knowing if their audience is there in the first place.
The places that many of us get excited about are those spaces where we crave the acceptance of strangers.
Look on the horizon and there are people out there to connect with, to see and to care about.
Creating A Web Of Touchpoints
There can’t be a dark line for people to stand behind that is either digital or offline.
Everything has to be driven via a collection of touch points that an audience can connect with, rather than a blind pursuit of just being digital.
According to a Smart Insights survey from 2015, 50% of companies surveyed have a digital marketing approach, but they don’t have a plan. There lies a huge marker. Just because you have chosen to put your eggs in the digital basket from blog to social, if you don’t have a plan, it can become an investment mess.
I have never considered myself as a 100% advocate within the ‘digital category,’ more about understanding how we communicate differently and build an audience around an approach.
I do not think that I will ever be purely digital. I do know that all it takes is the one night stand of a trigger for something to go viral, but there has to be something more sustainable around the audience that is targeted.
Brand Success Is Not Down To The Web But The Plan
Whilst the safe guard of the Oreo ‘Superbowl’ tweet will be with us for Powerpoint eternity, did it manage to sell more Oreos? A brand has to be sustainable rather than relying on its digital manifestation.
Take for example, Dollar Shave Club. With a viral ad based on its ‘Our Blades Are F***ing Great’ the company is now worth $615 million. The success is not tracked to a digital only mentality and going bonkers on YouTube but figuring out what an audience wants, creating a plan and being there before the likes of Gillette are.
You need to create something that has an audience in mind and more importantly provides value before someone else does.
Business today is more than building a website, a social presence, backing LinkedIn/Medium but building a sense of belonging for others by having clear goals (read why you a need a content goal where I share mine).
Within the retail sector this is being endorsed by the likes of Heals, the furniture and home accessories store, who have now introduced a co-working space at their Tottenham Court Road store (something that Sonos are also introducing).
This is nothing about having a store strategy focused on shifting more product (similar to businesses using their website as a pure shop window to promote), but to focus on a sense of association for others. It is about helping other people identify with you, outside of the normal realms of the website and the Twitter feed.
I like this idea of creating a sense of affinity that goes beyond an online presence.
Creating A Sense Of Belonging
There are causes happening to champion the growth of community and to bring things around this sense of belonging.
This week (26th April), the sixth Once Upon A Time happened. Four people took to a 19th century theatre on the Bournemouth clifftop, with Matt Desmier (far right) and myself (Ernest Capbert, Who Buys Your Stuff, Damien Lee, Mr, Lees Noodles, Mark Walker, Eventbrite and Mark Cribb, Urban Guild) to share different aspects of their business and the overall theme of how businesses remain relevant today.
A key contributor for why I continue with this project is that it provides a platform for visibility. This is something that no online delivery can provide.
What this does is to move from the sprawl for attention online and for that moment during a week, people come together to talk and share. From a business angle it is a profile exercise for Matt Desmier and myself, but what it highlights is that to be relevant you have to be continuously present without the comfort of an Adwords campaign.
Something is provided to someone else that is (hopefully) useful and engaging for them. For the four hours we have the audiences attention, this is something that we couldn’t generate online. What we are looking to prove is that this project is a continual development to showcase others and their beliefs.
It also highlights my approach that businesses can build their own worlds, without relying on others organisations (networking groups, local chambers of commerce) to grant permission to create audience engagement via the chicken wrapped in Parma ham.
Healthy Connection Hubs
Mark commented, “I think it’s really important for anyone – from freelancers to multinational businesses – to build a healthy mix of connection points with their customers and potential customers.”
“I think it would be difficult for any business to be 100% offline or 100% online these days.”
“Bricks and mortar businesses need websites, email and to an extent a social media presence so they can connect with their customers online and on mobile. But equally digital-first businesses need a physical presence to meet their customers in real life. Even Amazon has now opened up physical stores. Facebook, Apple, Google etc. all have extremely popular events throughout the year to connect with their key partners, developers and users.”
“There’s just no way you can replace a handshake and a proper conversation over a drink with a ‘like’ and an emoji.”
A portfolio strategy is one where the digital/offline first mentality is put to one side, but a portfolio driven by audience. This is what allows you to create goals, set a plan and measure against the people that you are targeting and not throwing a new out as widely as possible.
More Proof For What Others Are Doing
Matt Desmier is currently working on a project to celebrate the creative and digital economy of Bournemouth and Poole. It is a book and an event.
Matt highlights, “The digital world can be a little overpowering at times. Sometimes having something physical, something tangible, has more impact and offers an entirely different perspective.”
“It’s called Just For The Record it will feature interviews with 30 of the regions most exciting and innovative businesses and will offer the wider business community an introduction to this exciting sector.”
“Although everything we’re doing – the photography, the artwork, the writing – is all things you would expect to find on a website, we’re working with a brilliant digital printer to ensure that the book we create will be a thing that deserves attention.”
“Websites can be quite disposable. We swipe and scroll through them, looking for specific information and not necessarily discovering anything new. With Just For The Record, our intention is to engage people more and give them something to keep and return to more than once.”
“In order to get the book in front of the relevant audience, i.e. the wider business community of Bournemouth & Poole, there will be a one-day conference in the summer. That’s The Way To Do It (http://thatsthewaytodo.it/) will take place on Monday 4th July, quite literally on Bournemouth beach, and will feature eleven talks aimed at demystifying the potential of a 21st century digital economy and raising the aspirations of the regions businesses by helping them understand the breadth of opportunities the future offers.”
“The event has the support of Bournemouth Borough Council, Bournemouth University, AFC Bournemouth and Bournemouth Echo and should attract an audience of over 300 people, all of whom will receive a copy of Just For The Record.”
“So we’re presenting the digital world via an experience, the event, and a physical product, the book. Oh the irony!”
Lets Round Up
Well-curated experiences that have a plan behind them do not have to stoically stand behind a digital first approach. The ability to interact in a variety of spaces provides so much more depth.
We are not an army of robots built to scroll, swipe and click. We have a responsibility as businesses to encourage people to participate and engage. I guess it’s about doing the simple things well.
It’s your role to solve problems and be present, not a faceless ‘leave your email for the PDF report.’
If you present a role to others that isn’t complicated or impersonal and recognize that we can connect in far deeper ways than a screen, it can become a key differentiator in a world chasing for acceptance from people you don’t know.