Orchestrating Digital Strategy; A Converting Symphony

Kobayashi Ken-Ichiro and IKEDA Riyoko collaboration concert on stage at “Palace of Art” Budapest July 09, 2009 in Budapest, Hungary. Ferenc Szelepcsenyi.

Imagine yourself at a concert; an orchestra. If you pay close attention, you can see the trumpets at the back, violins on your left, cellos and basses on your right. A small group of flutes and clarinets tucked in the middle, and everybody else is there. The lights dimmed, the conductor enters the stage. As he starts to move his hands, music starts filling the room. Each instrument has its own unique sound and most of the time, they don’t all start at once. Each has its own roles to fill, a set of specific emotions it’s cued to invoke. But every sound contributes to one exquisite symphony that pleases your ears.

Now, take a look at this most generic representation of the word “strategy”:

It’s at the top of most minds, and it’s probably the reason why it’s the kind of imagery that fills the first page of Google’s search result when you type in the query. The illustration may be on point. Because chess is all about strategy. Moves, maneuvers. A plan of action, which, in this case, has one clear objective: beating the opponent.

Digital strategy is one strategic field that is well-known by many, and is recently very prominent in my radar. I knew nothing about it then and I still don’t know much now. What I know is that when I think about it, it’s not an image of checkered board and carved wooden pieces that popped into my head. And I think I’d like to start my new study in digital strategy by seeing it in a different light.

I’d like to think that you can orchestrate a strategy by putting together different digital mediums into a harmonious roadmap. You have identified the role of each medium by heart, and the impact it can bring upon the audience. While a communication strategy sets the tone, social media and content start the conversation. A website can bring together all the activities, while media plays the intelligent agent that targets its visitors effectively. You determine the pace, the beat, the tempo. And you get to say when each of them should come in, which ones should be louder, which ones should stay in the background. Which notes they are going to play; do you want to compose an optimistic arrangements, or do you want to sound morose? Every music, every strategy should be written with a clear objective in mind.

Most musical pieces are composed to induce a certain emotion to the audience, but great music provokes ideas that turn into action.

It is said in a biography of British musician Charles Dibdin, that some of his works were so influential in war that in 1803, the British government approached him and got him to write a series of them that was later believed to have played a role in actually ending it. I remember listening to Bach for the first time when I was very young and it marked the beginning of my short-lived obsession of learning how to play the piano. Remember John Williams? He was the one that got you dressing up in that X-wing Starfighter jumpsuit every Halloween because the Darth Vader costumes are always out.

The role of social, content, UX, media, and other digital mediums may bring awareness upon your brand value, like the way IKEA did with the world’s smallest IKEA store. But, it can also straight up boost your sales like what happened to Domino’s, who’s managed to have a 43% spike in sales during the recession in the US back in 2011 after introducing a new online ordering experience. From targeted email marketing to initiatives via Facebook and Twitter, they promote their brand and engage customers with brand activity.

I don’t see the industry as a chess board. Of course, sometimes the competition can end in a head-to-head battle, but the real people you want to influence are the ones out there, not the person sitting at the other end of the table. It’s the mass audience, waiting to be moved by your piece of symphony. And in the end, much like music; good digital strategy may put your brand on the map, but a great one elevates your business.

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