4 Digital Trends which are utterly useless for any CMO in 2017

In the words of Dashiell Hammett:

“Who shot him? I asked.
The grey man scratched the back of his neck and said: Somebody with a gun.”

 

If you are reading this post, there is a great chance that you’ve seen, how digital trend (or trends) are presented in various seminars & digital client pitches.

At times, the most basic and obvious information is presented as a “strategic insight”.

Below tweet is an example:

Needless to say, some of these digital trend can make any digital pitch excruciating long and boring.

Also read : How to hire digital marketing agency in India?

A lot of these “so called digital trend” ( & audience behaviour ), which is presented in the name of digital insights by publishers & media planners, adds little value to any strategic discussion.

I am sure clients are equally tired to see these slides in various conferences and pitches.

Below are few examples, which I believe are no longer “digital trends”, they are in-fact “a fact”, and we (as digital strategists and practitioners) must stop discussing & presenting them to our clients, not because they are not true, but because they are “too stupidly obvious to state in 2017“.

I’ve also listed these commonly spotted “digital trends” in the order of their extreme irrelevance.

Digital Trend #1

Digital is growing in India

Dude, like seriously?

If it was not growing, you wouldn’t have been standing there to present it in first place. Our industry has become a 10K cr industry talking about this for years.

From a strategic point of view, what is more important for a client to know is how their category is growing in the digital space.

Digital Trend #2

India Internet Users To Touch X Million by 2020

Fine, there are 200 million FB users, 250 million WhatsApp users etc. etc.

Is that even relevant for any brand? Clearly, no brand would like to target all of them.

Beyond a point, the “grandness” of these numbers are statistically irrelevant for any marketer.

The point that any brand would really like to know is:

a. how to find relevant audience

b. how to scale up their marketing in this large and ever so growing digital landscape of India?

Digital Trend #3

Mobile is BIG!!!

 

Honestly if you ask me, anyone (be it agency or publisher), who is caught even whispering that “Mobile is growing in India”, should be executed in G.O.T style.

I mean cmon guys!

The fact that mobile is a more powerful medium than desktop (or even television) in India, is like announcing that “Pandavas won the battle of Mahabharata” as Breaking prime-time News on Republic TV.

The smartphone growth, or the volume of smartphones getting sold is no longer of “strategic importance”.

What clients really want to hear from their digital agency, is how to create a truly “Mobile first” digital strategy in this complex digital landscape of India.

Digital Trend #4

Video and Content Marketing are like King and Queen

Dude, its like saying “hyper-link would be the next big scientific innovation of 2017”.

I understand, that many clients may not have the same level of digital maturity but calling video and content “as next big thing” is hilarious.

Last I checked, online video is eclipsing TV by a huge margin.

What would be interesting however,  is to tell any brand, how they can create quality engagement on the back of digital video content, which would also impact some meaningful metric in the real world.

7 questions we never asked about the role of Digital Strategist

Who is a digital strategist?

A question which has bothered me every single day. More so now, because after all these years, my designation finally says “Digital Strategist

Does that mean that I was not doing any digital strategy before?

Wrong! On the contrary, I was more immersed into digital strategy while I was doing hands-on execution. 

Does that mean I’ve stopped looking into execution now?

Wrong again! I am doing a lot more sharper execution now since I’ve got a much broader perspective about digital.

I’ve tried searching many times in the past, here’s what google has to say about “The Role of Digital Strategist”

Who is digital strategist

 

I guess the operative phase in that definition is “create and oversee the execution” of a plan.

However, the real problem Is..

When it comes to digital strategy, there are plenty of problems. Most of them are man made.

In some way, all of us in the business of advertising or communication, are equally responsible for contributing to the master problem.

Most of the brands hire their agencies / digital partners to answer the following question, “How to solve the complex digital marketing ecosystem?”

(Also Read : Gartner Digital Transit Map )

But the real question remain un-answered.

WHAT PROBLEM DO WE WANT DIGITAL TO SOLVE?

And then, there are below questions which are never asked.

Why?

Because nobody bother to ask them.

Why?

Because everybody think nobody knows the answer.

May be they don’t even discuss. They do what they do every time when they don’t know, THEY ASSUME!

 

7 NAQs (Never Asked Questions)

 

Q. Is digital strategist someone who knows everything?

Ans. While startups and agencies are looking for a candidate “straight out of Marvel comic books”, I doubt if that is even possible? If yes, someone please tell me how to find such talent? 

 

Q. Is digital strategist not supposed to execute things?

Ans. That would be disastrous, because in my opinion, no digital strategy can be created without keeping an eye on its execution.

Also read:  How to build digital strategy for execution?

 

Q. At what point someone becomes a digital strategist? 

Ans. Buddha once said: “Everyone has a buddha inside”. In case of digital marketing as well, everyone has a bit of digital strategist inside.

 

Q. In that case, is digital strategist really a skill? 

Ans. That’s a great question, but in order to answer this question, we must first answer “IS STRATEGY A SKILL?” (Read : Difference between skill and strategy). Role of strategy in digital ( and again, that’s just my POV ) is to have a strong aptitude to curate a solution for a marketing problem.

 

Q. Can we quantify the effort a digital strategist? 

Ans. Quantifying the effort of a digital strategist is like quantifying the effort of a “Chief Chef” in the kitchen of a 5-star fine dine.

 

Q. Does the responsibility of a digital strategist gets over after a pitch is won or when the campaign is approved?

Ans. Ideally no, because he/she may not execute the campaign (also depends upon the seniority of the person), a strategist must keep an eye on the campaign / marketing metrics to see if his work is going in the right direction.

 

Q. How can a digital strategist own the end outcome of his strategy, if he/she is not executing things? 

Ans. I personally like the analogy of a “Chief Chef” with Digital Strategist. Most of the times, a chef may not cook himself, but he does something more critical like defining the flavour of the day for his customers, hand-picking the supplies, ensuring quality control and work hygiene in the kitchen and most important, the presentation.

The Conclusion

Strategy vs Execution

I don’t think it is either-or in case of Digital Strategy and Execution.

Depending upon the person’s experience, caliber, organisation requirement and team structure, a digital strategist may or may not be executing or managing the operations.

But, one thing all of us (as digital strategists) must own, is the end outcome of our work.