Archive for the ‘Web Strategy’ Category

The Difference between Strategy and Tactics


Apple WorldThe purpose of this post is to clearly delineate the distinct differences between strategy and tactics, and show how they work in tandem for your organization.

Often, we use the terms strategy and tactics interchangeably and in a haphazard manner.  When probing at online definitions and dictionaries, they often share many of the same characteristics, making them difficult to differentiate.  Rather than debate Greek military etymology, Sun Tzu philosophy, or latest publications from the Harvard Business Press, here’s a simple way to look at strategy and tactics by their associated actions:

[The difference between strategy and tactics: strategy is done above the shoulders, tactics are done below the shoulders]

While a tweet-worthy catch phrase, this metaphor risks glib over-simplification. To explore deeper, let’s dissect strategy vs tactics in the following breakdown:

Breakdown: The Difference between Strategy and Tactics

Strategy Tactics
Purpose To identify clear broader goals that advance the overall organization and organize resources. To utilize specific resources to achieve sub-goals that support the defined mission.
Roles Individuals who influence resources in the organization. They understand how a set of tactics work together to achieve goals. Specific domain experts that maneuver limited resources into actions to achieve a set of goals.
Accountability Held accountable to overall health of organization. Held accountable to specific resources assigned.
Scope All the resources within the organizations, as well as broader market conditions including competitors, customers, and economy.  Yet don’t over think it, to paraphrase my business partner Charlene Li, “Strategy is often what you don’t do”. A subset of resources used in a plan or process. Tactics are often specific tactics with limited resources to achieve broader goals.
Duration Long Term, changes infrequently. Shorter Term, flexible to specific market conditions.
Methods Uses experience, research, analysis, thinking, then communication. Uses experiences, best practices, plans, processes, and teams.
 Outputs Produces clear organizational goals, plans, maps, guideposts, and key performance measurements. Produces clear deliverables and outputs using people, tools, time.

Strategy and Tactics Must Work in Tandem
These two must work in tandem, without it your organization cannot efficiently achieve goals.  If you have strategy without tactics you have big thinkers and no action. If you have tactics without strategy, you have disorder.  To quote my former business partner, Lora Cecere, she reminds me that organizations need big wings (strategic thinking) and feet (capability to achieve).

To illustrate, here’s some specific examples across different industries of how strategic goals can be communicated with clear tactical elements, in a linear and logical order:

  • Strategy: Be the market share leader in terms of sales in the mid-market in our industry. Tactics: Offer lower cost solutions than enterprise competitors without sacrificing white-glove service for first 3 years of customer contracts.
  • Strategy: Maneuver our brand into top two consideration set of household decision makers. Tactics: Deploy a marketing campaign that leverages existing customer reviews and spurs them to conduct word of mouth with their peers in online and real world events.
  • Strategy: Improve retention of top 10% of company performers. Tactics: Offer best in market compensation plan with benefits as well as sabbaticals to tenured top performers, source ideas from top talent.
  • Strategy: Connect with customers while in our store and increase sales. Tactics: Offer location based mobile apps on top three platforms, and provide top 5 needed use cases based on customer desire and usage patterns.
  • Strategy: Become a social utility that earth uses on an daily basis. Tactics: Offer a free global communication toolset that enables disparate personal interactions with your friends to monitor, share, and interact with.

Action: Using Strategy and Tactics to advance your Organization
First, educate your staff and colleagues on the differences of terms and how they vary.  Next, ensure that all tactics align to business strategy, and all strategies take into account tactics on how they will be achieved.  Finally, cascade in all communication how strategy and tactics work in tandem, advancing how your organization can see the larger goals, and better utilize resources to achieve.

That’s my take, but please expand the conversation with your perspective, in the comments below.

Image credit: “Telescope” by Kristin Marshall, used within creative commons licensing.

Breakdown: Converged Media Workflow (Coordinating Paid + Owned + Earned)


The purpose of this post is to serve as an industry reference for converged media workflows: How companies will coordinate paid, owned and earned as one orchestration.  This is continued coverage on Converged Media, read the full report.

Business Needs
Customers already experience advertising, corporate content, editorial, and social media at the same time, often in an integrated manner, although most brands do not approach the experience in one deployment. As Facebook, Twitter deploy social ads that utilize earned and owned content amplified by paid, these worlds are quickly merging. Brands that want to achieve the best experience for their customers in digital channels must approach in an integrated converged method, and understand how to utilize each channel’s strength. Brands that don’t have these workflows are at risk for inefficiency, and give agencies an opportunity to lead. Brands that produce these workflows working with agency and software partners can deliver an orchestrated experience.

Converged Media Workflows Represent Complexity in a Simple Graphic
This is continuing coverage of research I’m conducting with Rebecca Lieb (Bio, Blog, Twitter, Books), my co-author on this report as well as Jessica Groopman (Bio, Twitter), researcher. I recommend you first read the whole report on Converged Media (Paid, Owned, and Earned), in which we didn’t go into depth into the workflow that we found.  As the industry starts to combine these often disparate channels, we’ll see new forms of workflows emerge that coordinate all these channels.  Don’t be fooled by these simple diagrams, as each step transcends a different channel, intense coordination is required on brand side, agency side, as well as software.  A new ecosystem of players will also converge in order to serve this new workflow, and professionals that run to meet this future need now will be ahead in their careers over those that do not.

Definition: A Converged Media Workflow is a simple yet comprehensive diagram that represent complex streams that coordinate paid, owned, and earned channels in a holistic manner across an entire customer experience –beyond a siloed approach. As a result, the entire customer experience has a greater net benefit to customers and brands than individual deployments.

Start with Strategy
Companies should not approach the Converged Media approach without first having a goal in mind, as there are significant changes that happen both internally, with agency partners, and new software requirements.  To get the most return in your effort, start by:

  • Have a Content Strategy that Works Across Paid, Owned, and Earned.  Re-purposing the same content on each channel is not s recipe for success, as each provides a unique opportunity, challenge, and therefore approach.  Instead, develop a broader Content Strategy by first understanding that all companies (even those selling widgets) are now media companies.  Secondly, develop a strategy by understanding how to rebalance your marketing equation by developing a content strategy.  Read Rebecca’s blog with many resources on this topic, or the specific report on Content Marketing to further understand this growing trend.  New roles, content coordination, and the ability to track all of these content changes across the enterprise will emerge, as well as new professional opportunities for those that are seeking to grow.
  • Expect Savvy Marketers to have Playbooks –Supplemented by Agency Partners.  Don’t expect to brands to recreate a new workflow each time from scratch, we’ve started to collect some of the workflows below, and expect that many agencies and brands will develop playbooks and bring them forth in the planning stage.  Don’t overly rely on the same play, as competitors may  exploit the same play time and time again, so expect flexibility based on what the data tea leaves are reading.  When selecting a converged media workflow, ensure that it spans both paid, owned and earned channels, but also looks at media sites, social networks, microsites, brand sites and hosted communities.  Ensure these are also representing a global perspective, and consider how it can impact multiple product sets within the brand.
  • Be Ready: Significant Industry Changes Ahead in Brand, Agency and Software.  While the research report goes into greater depth on the predicted changes coming, we see a few significant changes to the entire ecosystem.  Inside of brands, the marketing department will start to restructure outside of silos so that the advertising group, corporate communication, brand marketing, and social media teams start to work together on a more frequent basis.  Then, we expect marketing leadership to demand that agency partners come together to look at converged media from one strategic viewpoint –digital agencies that lead this discussion will be in a position of power over those that do not.  Lastly, new software solutions are starting manifest including from Adobe Digital Marketing, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Oracle Marketing, Bazaarvoice, Lithium, ThisMoment, IBM, ExactTarget, and a host others of suites that I’m tracking.  Expect a network of software point players to assemble and connect to each other –in order to counter the suites.

Altimeter’s Research Found a Workflow Pattern
There are many workflows –this is just the most common one, although we know many more will emerge.  Altimeter conducted research with 34 ecosystem contributors and continue to take briefings and share this workflow with others.  Depending on who you speak with, you’ll find different emphasize on different parts of the workflow.

Converged Media Workflow
Above: Altimeter found a workflow pattern based on 34 interviews, while we heard a variation on workflow patterns, this one was common, read the full report to learn more.

Matrix: Breakdown of One Converged Media Workflow

Phase What You Need What No One Tells You
Real-Time Measurement & Iteration (Center item) This is a baseline requirement across all phases.  This internal center effort is apart from periodic reporting, as it should be gauging in real time the performance of all paid, owned, and earned channels and allow for rapid iteration.   Don’t expect this team to be able to see the forest through the trees as they peer in closely, so ensure the periodic reporting phase is included –you need both. Real time measurements require a sane way to communicate these changes to the company, by providing daily wrap ups, trend diagrams, and maybe even real time tickers.  Barry Judge, former CMO of Best Buy told me he has a digital ticker in his office with all mentions of his company so he can make iterative changes in real time.
Periodic Strategic Analysis and Reporting (Top) If your effort is kicking off, start by conducting analysis of what’s happened in earned, and owned channels. We often heard from interviews that earned tells you what target market is saying or where they are, which informs owned.  However in most cases, launches were built off existing products so analysis on owned was common.  This analysis should be conducted looking back several periods (months to years). In addition to seeing what your customers say, analyze what’s being said of competitors and what they’ve said.  Find out what’s resonated and what has not and why. Follow colleague Susan Etlinger to learn more.
Content Strategy (Clockwise) Often companies jump to decide what they say, without analyzing what people want to hear, and that’s why the prior phase on analysis and reporting was a requirement.  Companies can now develop a content strategy, but should understand how it changes and varies depending on the following variables:  product type, geography, channel, screen, and source of information.  Note that this spans many internal teams from corp comm, brand marketing, media buying, social media team and all related agency partners. To try to focus on a consolidated content strategy across all of the permutations (we call this the Dynamic Customer Journey) get focused on the top persona behaviors in each of the three channels and top screens. Get focused.
Publication Across Channels This phase requires both internal governance on message and engagement orchestration that includes communication, internal collaboration, a series of meetings, a clear leader and the tools to support.  We’re currently seeing a variety of tools from CMS, media network management, and social media management system (SMMS) technologies span this environment. Agency and brand stakeholders are seeking collaboration tools that will span all teams, in particular, watch how PBworks and Adobe Creative Cloud develop to serve these real time needs.
Engagement Real time measurement and iteration (center item) should be occurring as a baseline, as a result, post-publication, teams will identify hot paths and hot conversations where content is resonating.  Then, teams should invest in sending in content experts, community managers, product leads, executives, or influencers to trigger further discussion. Don’t limit engagement to only when a hot discussion is occurring, but set a baseline in monitoring and engagement.  Consider how many brands are already deploying Command Centers (focused on social now, but quickly going broader)
Amplification New media units have been on the rise from Facebook and Twitter in the form of social ads.  These units often can be promoted based upon resonating with earned or owned content in social networks.  Double and triple down on content that’s resonating to reach a broader audience, or tap into the social graph by allowing those involved to share with their networks. Social ads are not limited to social networks alone.  Bazaarvoice has already launched social ads “media” product that aggregates ratings and reviews into IAB approved units.  Expect new media networks to emerge that support social content.
Restructuring Nothing is static in this real time world –even your umbrella messaging and tag lines.  Understand that messaging must evolve and change in real time to meet needs the changes of the market.  Savvy marketers will know when to bend, by involving customers into these process –and know when to stay on overall message to lead market to a new stance in positioning. New tools will emerge that allow customers/end users to help collaborate in creating future messages and integrating across all channels.  Watch Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle for tools that can enable this at the enterprise level.
Cycle Repeats The workflow is a circle and in this workflow, the cycle should continue repeat, fueling consistent and constant content across coordinated channels. What we don’t know is how often this cycle will repeat, as there isn’t industry data on how fast this process can occur.

Notable Industry Converged Workflows
Altimeter has obtained a few of these workflows through online search, slideshare, as well as received content from contributors. I’ll continue to add notable examples as I see them overtime, please leave comments below.

Engagement around media
Above: Edelman’s David Armano shows a workflow between Paid Owned Earned
Analyst Note: This early diagram quickly delineates a workflow among channels focusing on strength of each

Screen shot 2012-09-02 at 3.34.35 PM
Social Marketing and Engagement, Slideshare
by David J Carr (twitter, blog), Digital Strategy Director, Chemistry Communications
Analyst Note: The integration of social listening, social engagement, email, website and communities

Screen shot 2012-09-02 at 3.42.25 PM
Social Marketing and Engagement, Slideshare

by David J Carr (twitter, blog), Digital Strategy Director, Chemistry Communications
Analyst Note: The integration between multiple channels both from awareness push to engagement and across screens

Related Resources on Converged Media Workflows
I sifted through many online resources, found a few select pieces here, leave comments below, I’ll add to this over time.

Today, most workflows are limited to individual channel deployment and lack a holistic view of the entire customer experience. We found few public workflows in our quest, but see more emerging in briefings with software marketing companies and agency leads. Expect that a playbook will emerge from lead agencies and digital marketing suites that outline how all these channels and efforts work in a consolidated way. New opportunities for the emergence of a new market, professionals, strategists, and software and agency partners will emerge, and those that lead will have more opportunity to shape the conversation over those that follow.

I look forward to the dialog as this space evolves, please leave a comment with your point of view, or URLs to related Converged Media workflows.

Web Strategy Redesign: Your Feedback Wanted


Web Strategists, I wanted to thank you all for being so involved in the comments, reading, and sharing the Web Strategy blog over the past years. As you often hear me discuss how orginizations must involve their own customers and marketplace involved in their feedback loops, I want to also live that as best as I can. I’m embarking on yet another blog redesign, working with Engage Sciences (Design), and Mitch from StudioNashVegas (Development, in the next phase), to build the next generation of this website. As I’ve done in the past, I always want to involve you, the customers, as part of the feedback loop.

I’d love your feedback in the following three comps, using discussion points loosely around the required JJG’s Five Elements of UX which I’ve adopted many times:

  1. Look and feel: Branding.  Out of the three comps, which one best fits my brand and that of the community?
  2. Interface and Interaction design: Does it look easy to use some of the interactive pieces to find and navigate to information?
  3. Information Design: In the classical IA sense, is the information displayed in a way that makes it easy to read, find, and consume?

The other 2 elements (content and strategy) remain constant from previous posts, but you can see the below comps have a greater focus on the content assets (speeches, reports, webinars, slides, infographics) beyond just text.

Here’s three distinct comps for your review:
(note: I updated so when clicking on thumbnail you are advanced to full size image)

Blog Concept 1C

Wireframe 1: Professional personal brand. This design would feature more of the ‘personal brand’ or ‘career brand’ as I prefer to say, and could have more pictures of me. While I’m a bit bashful to push that too hard (as I’d rather have the focus be on content, not me) it’s a concept the team wanted to try. You can see this variation that has images as the BG, but I worry about sending the wrong message (larger than life ego) and of course readability.

Blog Concept 2C

Wireframe 2: Corporate Ready: True to my business focus, and those I serve in the world’s largest corporations. The navigation elements are easier to use and centralized, and there’s dedicated features for reviewing content assets towards the bottom. Also notice the decreasing ‘content funnel’ with the latest post in largest form, then they reduce in size as older content decrescendos.

Blog Concept 3C

Wireframe 3: Fresh and Friendly. This one is a real departure from the others shown, or anything done to date. While the color palette can easily be changed, the goal is to really allow fresher perspective that’s warmer and inviting, and using a different layout. Assume the ‘colored fan’ would be replaced by a graphical element suitable for the overall brand, that’s just a placeholder.

You can see all the wireframes here in the full flickr set, provided by Engage Sciences team.

I really look forward to your feedback below, I’ll read and respond to as many comments as possible, as well as the design and development team. We’ll make some final tweaks based on your feedback then move into development cycles and prepare for dev testing then production launch.

Roadmap: Integrating Social Technologies with your Corporate Website (Slides)


A few years ago, I wrote a controversial post suggesting corporate websites were irrelevant.  Why?  Decisions were being made off-domain by customers and peers.  Secondly, many marketers were trying to get customers to go to their corporate website versus joining where they already are, “Fish where the fish are.”

Today, I’m pleased to see that the thinking –and technology, has emerged, where we’re finding a variety of companies that are integrating social technologies right into the corporate website, bringing the trusted discussions closer to the corporate site.  In fact, I’m kicking off the Gilbane CMS conference in SF as the keynote, and will be sharing this deck live on stage.

Although the highest state of nirvana (seamless integration) doesn’t yet exist, we should expect there to be very little difference between social technologies and corporate websites as content will assemble on the fly.  I predict URLs won’t matter, as content will be dynamically assembled around the buyer and their context in a variety of devices.  Sure, that’s far out thinking now, but that’s why we have several other stage gates that companies must first go through.

In fact, use this presentation (loosely modeled after a post of the same topic) as a roadmap for brands, web strategists, and the vendors that serve them.  Feel free to use these slides with attribution.

Thanks to our head of Research, Christine Tran for her assistance.

Related Resources

Matrix: Evolution of Social Media Integration and Corporate Websites


Many Brands That Adopt Social Are ‘Throwing Away’ Hard Earned Traffic
Many brands are jumping on the social media bandwagon, without giving proper thought about the impacts to their marketing effort.  In particular, many brands are putting ‘social chicklets’ on their homepage to “Follow us on Twitter” or “Friend us on Facebook” without considering the ramifications.

[Brands that arbitrarily adopt social tools may be unknowingly undermining their own efforts. Instead, first understand the full ramifications as you integrate social with your corporate website. Secondly, have a clear roadmap]

Marketers spend millions of dollars to get people to visit their corporate website, so why would they be so quick to send them away? Use this strategy matrix to help make your decisions. Be deliberate by first understanding the ramifications:

Matrix: Evolution of Social Media Integration and Corporate Websites

Sophistication Example Benefit Challenge
1) Do nothing, no social integration Corporate websites that have no integration with social tools at all. Cheap. Ignorance is bliss, at least in the short term Your corporate website is irrelevant.
2) Link directly away without a strategy Corporate homepages that have chickelts that say “Follow us on Twitter/Facebook/YouTube” sending traffic away, see sharethis, add this and tweetmeme Encourages growth of social channels Sending traffic away, without having a strategy
3) Link away, but encourage them to share with a pre-populated message A chicklet that encourages new Twitter followers to Tweet at their friends “I’m now following X brand” Triggers a social alert as a form of endorsement Better than the above, it may not have a followup or call to action
4) Brand experience is integrated in social channels Extending the brand to social channels, so the corporate experience is somewhat mirrored on social channels Regardless of wherever users go, they are still experiencing the brand Social channels sometimes serve better as a conversational area –not for traditional branding campaigns
5) Aggregating the discussion on your site Aggregating select conversations from Tweets like the skittles homepage did, top discussions in communities or blogs, see Disqus and Echo. Centralizes the discussion on your site, making it a resource to first look at. Low cost content Lack of control over which content can be created, still links off site
6) Social login systems that allow users to stay on site Using FB connect, or Twitter connect allow users to use their existing logins to access site, see how JanRain and Gigya (client) helps May increase sign ups, widening marketing funnel, chances are content is more accurate than a sign up form May not have access to email addresses, as users passthrough using social logins.
7) Social login systems that allow users to stay on site, but triggers viral loop In addition to the above, there’s an actual social or interactive experience on the corporate site that triggers them to share with their friends Users stay on site, interact with brand or peers, yet recruit other members in social networks Requires planning, a campaign, and extensive resources.
8. Complete integration between corporate site and social sites Other than URLs there’s no difference between a corporate site and a social site, the experiences are seamless Customers, prospects, and employees mix together, churning on new members and viral activity It doesn’t exist, yet.

Be Deliberate: Use This Roadmap For Your Web Strategy
Use this guide to map your current situation and where you plan to go, copy and paste the framework into your corporate planning deck, and identify where your assets are now.  Get actionable by taking these three steps:

  • Take inventory of current corporate website assets. Social strategists must determine what level of sophistication they are at now, and document in their project plans.  Take inventory of all corporate web assets and tag with this framework.
  • Identify what the desired state is, and then build a plan against it. Note that the further you go down in sophistication, the more resources and stakeholder buyin are needed.  Start small and slow, and be sure to have a strategy.
  • Don’t arbitrarily jump into the to social marketing space without measurable KPIs. Be deliberate in your actions.  Indicate on paper what the measurable goals are and how they’ll tie back to business metrics:  Increase brand awareness, increase leads, increase site conversion.

Once you’re ready to get actionable, and are ready to integrate the technologies, see this important matrix of Roadmap: Make Your Corporate Websites Relevant by Integrating Facebook, Google, MySpace, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

Slides: Four Social Media Trends for Business in 2010


Companies Must Approach Social Programs In A Coordinated Effort
Many companies are enthralled by the opportunity to use social technologies to connect with customers, yet many lack a plan or coordinated effort. Additionally, things are going to get more difficult as they don’t realize that as consumers and employees rapidly adopt these tools the level of complexity increases across the organization. While it’s easy to get caught up on the specific new technologies that are constantly emerging, companies should focused on business trends and themes in 2010. In particular, companies must develop a business strategy based on customer understanding, put the baseline resources in place to get your company ready, deliver a holistic experience to customers –and build advocacy programs and anticipate customer need.

Open Research: You can download the slides from slideshare, and use with attribution for non-commercial reasons.

To Be Successful, Companies Should Focus On Four Key Trends
While there are many themes in 2010 for companies, II focused in on the four key themes companies must focus on:

1) Don’t fondle the hammer. Understand customers, focus on objectives, not develop strategies based on ever-changing tools. Companies really need to understand their customers first, see our recorded webinar to learn more.
2) Live the 80% rule. This is a movement: get your company ready. 80% of success is getting the right organizational model, roles, processes, stakeholders, and teams assembled –only 20% should be focused on technology.
3) Customers don’t care what department you’re in. Customers just want their problem fixed, they don’t care what department you’re in. Yet, now, nearly every department can have a direct relationship with your customers using social tools. As a result, provide customers with a holistic experience Start to investigate how brand monitoring, community tools and CRM systems are merging.
4) Real time is *not* fast enough. Companies cannot scale when it comes to social media, for most companies, you cannot hire enough people to monitor and respond to the conversation, As a result, lean on advocates, by building unpaid armies, and anticipate customer needs through advanced listening techniques.

This event was hosted last night at the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association nice redesign, and hosted by Adobe (disclosure: an Altimeter client). I was later joined by Jeannette Gibson, social media executive of global marketing at Cisco, Ed Terpening, VP of Social Media at Wells Fargo, Maria Povermo, leading Social Media in Marketing at Adobe, and Rob Fuggetta of Zuberance to have a lively panel on how they are using these technologies. The event was recorded, I’ll add a link as soon as it becomes available.

Text translations now in Japanese