The problem with “Why aren’t we on [channel xyz]”?

Why are we not doing [name any popular activity] ???

Clients and suppliers alike often ask me the same question.

  • A supplier might be trying to sell me their service and will suggest for example that my client needs to invest in SEO activity, or that they should consider an Instagram account.
  • A client might see that her competition is sending weekly emails, or that her daughter can’t stop using Instagram, and asks us why we are not initiating similar activities.

Well,….. because it’s not part of our strategy and it doesn’t align with the role we have agreed to assign to your digital activities.

Let me explain strategy first.

Strategy & Planning

Let’s say we are planning a family holiday. We first define our purpose together.

Purpose

We want to get away from the city and experience the Australian Bush.

Vision

When we have set up our tent, and hear the birds around us, whilst we sip a drink around the campfire, that’s when we know we have achieved our purpose, and the holiday has well and truly started.

How we now we have arrived, and the holiday has well and truly started
How we now we have arrived, and the holiday has well and truly started

Who is coming?

This if for our family of 4. We are a young family, with 2 young children and we are on a tight budget. We like doing outdoorsy stuff.

Context

Now there are going to be things along the way which we need to take into account; we only have a week holidays, and our budget it only $2,000. Also, the kids are very small, so they can’t really help us set up camp. There might be traffic jams too.

Strategy

HOW are we going to get to our destination? There are plenty of roads that lead to Rome, but we need to choose. Our context above and our purpose help us decide that taking a plane, staying in a resort, etc. is not an option. So what choices do we make?

Which road shall we take and what do we do if there is a roadblock; a flood, a fire, or a traffic jam, or a fallen tree on the road?

We agree that based on the purpose of our holiday and our family context, the strategy is to not use any toll-roads (saves money), we also are leaving at 4am to reduce chance of traffic jams whilst we leave the city.

We are taking the scenic route, and we are making stops at “Landmark 1” and also at “Landmark 2” for a break.

Notice here we made a choice. It has created focus and a clear plan; This is the road we are taking; The scenic route. Now there are many scenic routes, and unless there is a flood, we are not changing plan otherwise we’ll be criss-crossing around Australia without a roadmap and our $2,000 will all be spent on petrol! The stops we have planned will help us calm the kids and explain we are making progress.

Sure, if the road is flooded, we will choose another route (scenic). Also, if a traffic jams stops us from reaching our Landmarks, we also will choose another route.

Tactics

Our actions. Because we are camping and we are going to the bush, we are taking a 4 wheel drive car. We have put roof racks on the car so we can carry all our gear. We pack smaller sports bags so they can be easily packed and carried, a large tent to fit everyone, and a spare petrol can.

The dreaded question(s)

Now imagine, someone comes along and starts talking to you about the benefits of suitcases. They have wheels which is very handy and these days you can push them with one finger. The different colours are also great so that your suitcase stands out on the luggage belts, some even come with an alarm for when someone else has tried to open them. They are a simple m.u.s.t have for anybody going on holiday. But does this family need them? No they don’t.

Or someone starts telling you about the new motorway that could bring you to your destination very quickly. The tolls are admittedly a tad steep, but hey, faster is better right?
Is it for this family? Based on the above, it’s not.

Why aren’t we on Facebook/Instagram? Why don’t we start sending emails? Why don’t we build an app? Is all the same thing. Based on our purpose, based on our strategy, based on our budget, your brilliant suggestion will not work for us. Or maybe not yet.

The role / reason to use [channel xyz]: Business example

Ok, so let’s talk about a simplified business example now.

Your business wants to sell more products. Clearly. You want to grow by 20% this year.

You do offline activities; outdoor, cinema ads, radio. As the CEO of this company you realise there is no digital activity and that needs to change.

Reach vs trial (what does it need to D.O)

A quick scan of the above activities shows that all these activities are creating REACH, but nothing really helps with TRIAL, so your digital consultant identifies that all digital and social activities need to focus on TRIAL. Trial would mean people DOING something meaningful like downloading something, sharing something, buying something, using something (regularly).

Digital can create a lot of REACH activities too, like videos, blogs and infographics, but they may not drive people to action and TRIAL. And this business already spends most of their marketing budget on REACH activities. For this business the role of all things digital is going to be TRIAL. Not REACH.

So when this CEO asks the question “why are we not on Instagram”, we can confidently answer that the platform for trial that aligns best with his target audience is Facebook (note this is an example only) and that our aim is for Facebook to contribute 7% of your total growth. We know we are on track when we achieve X% after X-time.

So WHAT needs to be posted on Facebook that is going to create trial? Remember, a “like” is not a meaningful action and doesn’t create trial. So you decide that you are going to post coupons to Facebook. People can clearly use these and get a discount or a free sample. This is the trial you are after.

If this is not working (e.g roadblock; flood, fire, traffic jam) then we need to change the route, but it still needs to align with our purpose. Remember we took the scenic route to save money on toll? This hasn’t changed. So we can change direction to another scenic route, but not to the motorway. This business may find that the landmarks for Facebook are not reached, and it could choose a different activity, but it will never change to an activity that doesn’t create TRIAL. The business could look at Google Shopping as a trial activity instead. Instagram is more of a REACH channel and it’s clearly outlined in the plan that the role of digital is trial only.

That’s why you are not doing [name any popular activity]

The thing to avoid is to have a long list of tactics, constantly trying something new. Like a bull in a china shop But without first creating a strategy and an activity plan, you’ll seriously be spending your entire budget on petrol, without ever reaching your holiday destination.

Disclaimer: The above is of course an example only. I far from oppose being on Instagram, or any other channel, provided it suits your purpose, your target audience and fits within your strategy.

Happy planning everyone.

Jen