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.

How to hire talent for your digital startup?

So which version of Android do you own?, a question once put up by a hiring manager in the interview to a young aspiring digital fresher.”I use latest Jelly bean 4.2.3″, prompt came the reply by the youngster.

To my surprise, the kid was later hired for his good IQ, but that organisation did not fire the manager for his oblivion & utter ignorance since 4.2.3 was not even released by google. 🙂

But that’s not the point.

The point is, should we judge any fresh digital marketing talent simply by their knowledge (let me rephrase), by their “borrowed knowledge?”

The answer is a BIG NO!

I agree the quest for hiring digital marketing talent is fairly difficult (for any company) but it need not go through the knowledge lane.

At times,as hiring managers, we must try to find out the intent of individuals, as to what has prompted them to pursue digital marketing as a career option. If digital is a way of life for any individual, then regardless of the smart device they own, they would (and should) have a very strong opinion about its different facets from macro viewpoint.

Finding someone’s perspective (unique or borrowed) can actually become a strong way to differentiate the fresh digital talent available in the market. It will help you to identify who amongst all the candidates, can add some value to the table by their logical &/or lateral thinking.

Another problem which most of the hiring managers would face during this quest is something which is similar to arrange marriages in India. Whenever you meet any new candidate for the interview, often they sound fake in order to get the job.

Now you may argue that faking is not something we can control. Humans are bound to fake, and that’s what my point is. Why to assess them on their borrowed knowledge when you know that they can fake it?

But hang on, you cannot fake a perspective, can you? I agree that you would need to have some knowledge of the subject in question before having an opinion but what you need to judge is whether the candidate offering borrowed perspective (mostly from Google) during the interview?

The hiring needs for digital operations is bound to shoot up exponentially in times to come. A recent review done by 32 marketers on the future of Internet Marketing suggests that the pace of growth in digital jobs in years to follow will outpace any other vertical or horizontal globally.

Now these are just statistical conversations which should  be used in right perspective. What is critical for any HR team/ recruitment firm/ hiring manager is forecasting the kind of resources they would need in next 2-3 years.

Ideally, they should carve their quest well in advance & should also decide if they would like to take a detour from knowledge lane.

On that note, I would like to leave you with this wonderful video chat with Itzhak Perlman (leading violinist), who talks about how to identify creative & imaginative talent?