As digital marketers, we love a great strategy. That’s why we’re always looking for ways to improve our game plans. We seek a way to create order and develop a scalable pattern, which we call a marketing strategy. It’s hardwired in our DNA.
Humans crave consistency because it offers comfort and predictability in a universe that appears random or chaotic. As marketers, we take pride in spotting patterns ahead of the pack, and we follow favorite social media accounts because we trust their consistency. We know there will be a new post to consume every day or whatever schedule they’re on. Just like we trust our favorite restaurant to serve breakfast in the morning and dinner in the evening.
Humans also crave creativity. Creative ways of solving problems helped us survive as a species. Creative expression, aka art, helped us explain how we understand the world.
Developing a digital strategy for a client is serious business. And I believe the secret behind an effective strategy always comes down to two things: consistency and creativity. But, as you know, a secret recipe is always more than its ingredients. The cooking matters as much as what’s in the sauce.
Google isn’t the Answer
If you Google “best digital strategy,” you’ll see reams of results for the 7 strategies you need, the 12 most effective tactics and strategies, and even, the ultimate guide to strategies. How do you know which one is the best one for you? How can a single article spell out the most effective strategy if the writer doesn’t know you or your business? The simple answer is they can’t.
Before hiring someone or attempting to create your own marketing strategy, you need to focus on the broader picture. Before you can create a digital marketing strategy, you need to begin with your why. Once you can express that, creativity and consistency will take you to the next level.
Define Your Why
Start by asking yourself: Why am I doing what I’m doing [insert your business here]? You can frame this question as Who is [insert business name] and what do we offer? You might be tempted to reduce the question to its most basic elements. But that won’t help. Think about how many competitors you have in the world. You’ll need to dig deep to provide a single sentence answer about what separates you from the thousands of others.
Imagine your why is: I’m helping to save the planet by upcycling used woolen clothing into useful winter gear. You’ve spelled out why you go to work every single day: you’re saving the planet. But there are lots of brands and individuals working to save the planet. There are also lots of brands upcycling woolen garments and making winter gear. You need to take a deeper look at what separates your brand from the rest. So perhaps your next version is: I’m helping to save the planet by upcycling used woolen clothing into stylish winter accessories made by workers who’ve just immigrated to America.
That sentence succinctly defines your business and why you’re in business. That’s your starting point for a digital strategy.
Consistency is Half the Secret
Consistency is one half of the secret to digital success. Wait. What? But that’s too… Simple. Easy. Banal. But consistency is anything but simple, easy, or banal. In fact, it’s downright difficult. It’s one reason 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. We’ve all been there, done that. It may not be easy, but it is necessary for success.
Consistency refers to delivering a cohesive digital message across all your platforms and audience touchpoints. It means being consistent in delivering that message. It means delivering a consistent consumer experience in your brick-and-mortar stores or eCommerce website. If your business is stylish upcycled winter accessories, then your visual message is going to be stylish as well. If your business message is witty on Instagram, then those same elements will be expected at other touchpoints in some form.
Developing a consistent brand message and digital strategy goes back to your why. If you’re saving the planet, your audience is also invested in this. True, you might be selling to people who couldn’t care less about the planet, but for the moment, let’s focus on your primary audience.
Not Every Platform is Right for You
Where do planet-saving people who love upcycled, stylish winter wear hang out online? That’s a real question. And you can’t just guess where they are. You can’t choose platforms just because every brand is on Facebook and Instagram. Take the time to go find this specific audience. Are they following winter-focused Instagram accounts? Do they prefer TikTok? Maybe they’re using Pinterest to build boards of warm and fuzzy wardrobes or spending their time watching expert skiers on YouTube. Once you know where they congregate and consume content, then those are the platforms you need to use. You don’t have to create a social media account for all of their preferred platforms. Think about what content you intend to share and choose platforms that are a smart fit.
This approach means you’ll be developing content for a specific group of channels and platforms with a single, consistent purpose. It also means you’ll find it easier to be consistent in both creating, uploading it, and managing your content because your primary audience is consuming it.
Here’s a bonus secret: There is no hard and fast rule about how often you should publish a blog or post new content. Surprised? What’s more important is being consistent. If you begin posting twice a week on Instagram, then your audience will develop the habit of looking for your posts on those days.
But consistency is only half of the equation. If your content is boring, your audience will ignore you.
Creativity is the Other Half
If you’ve had a classical education, you might hear a little voice tell you that “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Actually, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” Emerson is not railing against consistency per se. He’s advocating for creative thinking rooted in the present. Instead of echoing one another, he urges readers to think for themselves. And that’s the heart of what creativity means when you’re putting together an effective digital marketing strategy.
Creativity means developing an original message that reflects your why and your brand. It means offering unique content to your audience on each platform and at every touchpoint. It means developing an original voice for written and visual content that reflects your one-of-a-kind company.
Let’s get this out of the way: Everyone is creative. Every. Single. Person. Yes, there are different types of creativity. Scientists believe people may be creative with a little c (clever ways to use leftovers) and others get a capital C because they’re acclaimed as artists or writers. There’s even a clever test you can take online that measures how creative you are in 10 words. Go ahead and take it. I’ll wait, but fair warning, it can be addictive.
As a seller of stylish, upcycled woolen mittens, your creativity is being expressed in what you and your employees are producing. But you’ll also want a creative vision for your brand message. You’ll likely invest in professional photos showing the beauty of the finished product. Maybe you’ll do a video about how you upcycle the woolen garments. Those creative elements are obvious. But let’s face it, there are a lot of winter mittens out there. You need a creative approach to your digital strategy.
Creativity is More Than Visual Choices
Our example is a lucky business owner because their product is inherently creative and visual. But what if your business revolves around something like plumbing, you still need to be creative. (And now you know why there are so many silly ads for serious businesses. They’re equating attention-grabbing hijinks with creativity.)
Creativity within the scope of your digital strategy means finding a fresh and engaging approach to reaching your audience. You’ve defined what makes your business unique, and you’ve identified which platforms you’ll use. Now it’s time to focus on how you’ll use those platforms. Anyone can take a picture of upcycled mittens and post them on Instagram or Pinterest. They’re visual platforms. But a photo isn’t going to drive your audience to your website so they can order their mittens.
The secret lies in finding your brand voice. Have you heard of Grounds and Hounds Coffee? Their tagline is that every cup helps a pup and they put 20% of their profits to help rescues. On their Instagram account, you’ll see a steady stream of creativity. They didn’t go overboard. They just share a photo of a dog with one of their products accompanied by a clever caption. While I don’t drink their coffee and I’m not a dog owner, I love seeing their creativity as they share awesome dog photos without overselling the brand.
Creativity + Consistency = Success
If you focus on a consistent message across all your touchpoints, and if you chart a unique and creative brand voice, the rest of your digital strategy comes down to tactics and details. Now details are important, and the wrong tactics can sink your efforts. But without consistency and creativity, your strategy will disappoint you time after time.
If you need us, EVG has a team of smart people who understand the value of consistency and creativity. We’d love to speak with you about how we can help you achieve digital success. Give us a call or reach out on social media. We’d love to chat with you about how we can make life simpler and better for your team.