Every time I get into a conversation with my friends or acquaintances about what I do, it seems to take an unnecessarily long time to explain. Because of this, I tend to just say “I create strategies for websites and stuff”. That, my friends, is a cop out. I seem to always land on jobs that other people don’t understand. When I was a “Social Media Specialist”, people would say “So, you just Facebook and Twitter all day?”. After awhile, I started to give up and just say “YUP!”.
Another thing that seemingly always gets to me, is the number of ‘job descriptions’ for a Digital Strategist, and how very few of these job descriptions share any commonality at all. And then the hoards of people who list of digital strategy as a skill, not understanding that it’s more of a blanket statement for a number of skills.
A Simple Misunderstanding About Strategy
Strategy means so many things to so many different people, and that’s perfectly fine. Strategy is a direction, an un-specific journey to a better destination. It’s not the how, it’s the what. This simple fact is what many people tend to misunderstand – they over complicate how simple the end product of a ‘strategy’ really is. In fact, a strategy is often just a simple statement. It is the solution to move from where you are to where you want to be.
Strategy is a class of solution that deals with uncertainty – the idea that outside sources may inhibit you from reaching your goals. A well thought out strategy will be the statement of solution, not a prescription on how to get there.
That’s it folks. Adding any element of how to the strategic statement starts to turn it into a plan – and that is putting the cart before the horse.
Seemingly Simple, But Not So
While my above statements seem to be simple to construct, it is actually quite the opposite. There are a lot of different elements you have to know to be able to construct a strategy that will provide the great results that you intended in the first place.
In order to craft a strategy, you must first uncover the problem that it needs to be a solution to.
This can sometimes take weeks of legwork, and while the outcome is a simple statement, that legwork requires a lot of time and multiple resources.
Strategic planning comes after crafting a strategy. It is the process of defining the strategy or direction, and making decisions on allocating resources to pursue this strategy.
Being a Digital Strategist
As a digital strategist, I apply the above to digital business problems clients have. That could be the need for a new website, creating more comprehensive and goal-focused navigations, or creating leads and generating business online, for example. It is important to have a strategy before you have a plan, but some people do not possess the skills to create strategies (which is totally fine). It comes down to a level of thinking that I have spent time honing and perfecting. While I am certainly not the best strategic thinker ever, I pride myself on my ability to create direction and be the voice of logic.
So that’s what I do. Voila.