7. Setting up a digital strategy
The digital strategy enables the creation of new value models and income models from the social media and the relations of all parties concerned.
Estimated reading time 15 minutes
A proper digital strategy is an integral part of the business strategy and leads to sub-strategies concerning content, networks and data. It is crucial to view the internet ecosystem as a ‘business ecosystem’. The digital strategy enables the creation of new value models and income models from the social media and the relations of all parties concerned. Your digital strategy must approach the internet ecosystem as a self-supporting platform (domain, social networks, and third party online services), which functions as a profit center and realizes goals and targets. Content functions as the social media’s cement. Information (data) is the propellant that drives the system and, via the earning models, generates cash flow.
Good is not good enough
When you, the DJ or event/festival producer, know your online position, you need to outline the goals of your organization. When you view the online world as a business opportunity, you have to base your digital strategy on the business strategy. When linking up with fans and clients is the primary focus, there are no excuses for not recognizing your online fans and clients.
It is often suggested that the ‘offline’ world and its online equivalent are two separate entities. Another way of looking at it is: the world is the world, and the world is both online and offline. The virtual world is an integrated part of reality, i.e. the real world. For now and the near future, inspiring DJs and event producers who are approachable both offline and online, are de rigueur. In the end, it all revolves around the story as told by you, together with the story of the fan or client. The knowledge mentioned above will help you to make your organization ‘future-proof’, so it can inspire your (future) fans and clients.
Just a good plan is not enough these days. Your organization is only able to realize your plans with the assistance of your employees and contributing outside parties. Therefore, defining a strategy requires the information about, and input from, your internal and external environments. Moreover, the process of shaping your digital strategy is not possible without mobilizing those who must execute the plan or those who are involved in it. Mapping out a new digital course is an adventurous process. It takes confidence in those involved, what are the right choices? Is the plan favored by all and will they support it?
There is no such thing as an univocal definition of business strategy. This one, formulated by Chandler is frequently used:
“Strategy is the determination of the basic long-term goals and objectives of an enterprise, and the adoption of courses of action and the allocation of resources necessary for carrying out these goals.”
Many organizations think of strategy as ‘theory’ and the execution of the strategy as ‘practice’. Therefore, in their minds execution is more important than strategy and as a result they neglect their strategy. Michael Porter stresses the difference between strategy and operational effectiveness. Various management tools help to improve operational effectiveness, such as Total Quality Management; it monitors company performance in terms of leadership, quality control of suppliers, documenting vision and planning, evaluation, process control and process improvement, product, design, employee participation, credit and reward, training and education, and customer focus. This tool aims at continual improvement of the company performance in general and focuses on satisfying fan’s and client’s demands. Total Quality Management is a free-standing method of change. However, it deals with achieving results and attaining targets; not with mapping out the company’s course.
So, company strategy is not an isolated management process. Strategic planning directs all decisions an organization will make for the present and the future. A sound strategy is vital and imperative in order to function (and keep on functioning) effectively. For the formulation of a sound business strategy, the DJ or event / festival producer must have clarity about four aspects:
- Mission – The mission describes the identity of your organization: who you are, what you do and what you want to achieve. A mission exists out of time, yet can be applied at any moment.
- Vision – A vision is the inspiration of your organization. It is the ambition that formulates what your organization wants to be. You review the current situation and assess future opportunities: what is the desired perfect set-up?
- Objectives – These are the concrete results you pursue in order to realize mission and vision of your organization. How to accomplish this? In order to achieve your goals, you have to make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic and Time-phased.
- Strategic plan – The strategic plan describes how the objectives will be achieved. The plan numbers a series of interrelated steps, so that long-term continuity is feasible. A sound plan sees to the right coordination, control and transfer of tasks concerning all activities that relate to content, connection, domain, networks, equipment and data.
The complete process to implement a strategy successfully requires five steps, according to Robert Kaplan and David Norton in their article, Mastering The Management System:
- Develop – The strategy must be the consequence of the company’s vision, mission and core values. Only when these are clear-cut, the strategy can be stipulated.
- Translate – The strategy must be translated to measurable targets.
- Plan – In order to realize strategic goals, plans must be developed, including monetary and capacity estimates.
- Analyze – When the strategy is implemented, the performance must be reported. Learn from analyzing the initial results.
- Test – In order to remain competitive, the strategy must be evaluated habitually. Adjust the strategy when necessary. Develop a new strategy if need be.
For publishers, content strategy is the order of business. In fact, content is their core business: binding target groups to their brand(s) via content production. That is what it is all about: long-term relationships. For marketing and communication professionals, content usually is not a strategic tool; just ‘filler’ in the campaign. You, the DJ or event producer, are publisher as well as marketer and communicator.
People tell stories, in the digital world as well as the physical world. Stories express how people think and learn. Stories design authenticity, make things palpable and nearby. Stories expose the soul and turn the distant and the abstract into something that is personal, comprehensible and, above all, human. On top of that all: stories bind. Any marketer can tell what his organization does. Some explain how they do it, but only a few can unequivocally explain why they do it. This is what you, the DJ or event producer, have to do.
Storytelling is the foundation of a sound content strategy. The ‘why’ is the starting point. We all know the story of Simon Sinek’s ‘Golden Circles’ and the power of the simplest, yet complex question for many organizations: why? The answer to that question provides the framework for the content strategy and all forms of inside and outside communication.
The content strategy does not deal with putting the organization and its processes in order; that is content governance. The content strategy also does not deal with content planning, content development, content control, content distribution, content evaluation or content archiving, for all that is part of content management. The content strategy helps to translate the objectives into a course of action that will accomplish the goals with the help of content.
A sound content strategy helps you to create and curate content that is relevant for target groups at the right time. This creates strong relations and binds your fans and clients to your product. Moreover, good content helps to set you apart from the competition in your corner of the market.
The content strategy helps to establish who needs what information at which time in order to achieve your goal. Plus the best form and the optimum fashion to present this information. Linking the content strategy to the organization’s objectives and the assessment of the end result helps to account for the added value of content. So the end is to bind, and content is the binding agent. By consistently disclosing content, and keeping it going in a disciplined fashion, you will bind more and more fans to your brand and product. Thus it opens the way to the fan’s or client’s trust.
From connection to trust
Initially organizations are quickly disappointed when they get to work with internet and social media. Pretty soon it transpires that digital presence does not result in the Return on Investment (ROI: volume of money) or Return of Engagement (ROE: volume of attention) one had hoped for. Most organizations have yet to make the transition ‘from presence to connection’; and ‘from connection to trust’. This must be echoed the organization’s mission. By focusing on the fan or client in regard to the internet ecosystem, and considering this as a business ecosystem, you will actually see new value models and income models emerge from the relations of all parties concerned in the internet ecosystem.
Central to the digital strategy are three phases. Phase 1 is just contact without much bonding. In Phase 2, actual relationship has developed. In Phase 3, this relationship has deepened into a relationship of trust. Why do you pass through these phases? You really try to evolve from being a sender with its network of receivers to the situation in which you are part of a network as a confidant; in this network, each participant is confidant of all other participants. If you engage with your fans or clients in a significant manner, the following model will be generated. It is important to go through the subsequent phases, in order to be competitive and remain so for the future. This is reflected in the vision of your organization. The value of the network you are building increases by bringing the fans from Phase 1 to Phase 3.
Fans and clients of DJs and event producers have a need for ‘likable’ companies, organizations or brands they want to belong to. Moreover, they feel a need for trustworthiness. For the foreseeable future we will only engage with domains and social channels that fulfill our needs; that listen to us, that we can trust. Remember this: a domain (your website or app) is the only site where a fan or client can verify the reliability of online information. It is the only site administered by you.
Although it should be self-evident, many DJs and event producers do not focus on their actual proposition and their most important objectives.
Some questions you need to ask yourself continuously:
- What is my proposition? What is my vision and mission?
- What are the objectives of my website and my app?
- What are the crown jewels (content) of my website and my app?
- Do I produce or curate content that benefits my visitors?
- What does conversion mean to me?
- Do I want people just to visit my site or do I want them to direct to a certain section?
Remember that your company’s strategy is leading your digital strategy. The proposition and objectives can be related as stories (textual and/or audio-visual content) in your domain (website and/or app) and social networks. The fan’s or client’s experience is leading in this respect.
Every day, various social networks are the locus of interaction and communication on a massive scale. Central to all this activity are the fan and the client. One of the most important conditions of the implementation of social networks is the evident match with the targeted audience, your fans and clients. They are the focus of your effort; they are the reason to implement a digital strategy. Knowledge of your fans and clients is therefore essential: what social networks they frequent and what social networks they ignore. How do they use them, in a professional or in a personal manner? Your network strategy is tailored to meet these specifics.
There is a multitude of social networks used by (potential) fans and clients, but is simply too time-consuming, too energy-draining and too little cost-effective to monitor all these spots and engage in relevant conversations or produce specific content for them. So we do not use hail for ammunition, we target the channels that offer the best chances of success. On that note it is convenient to know the potential impact of various social networks. Who uses them? What is going on there? How do people use them?
For instance, the average LinkedIn user is more professionally attuned than the average Facebook user. When you use social media for strictly business purposes, it is a waste of time and effort to maintain a Facebook page; LinkedIn is better suited to your aims. This example shows the importance of knowing (thus, researching) where your fans and clients are active and what they want. Chapter 2 gives an overview of social networks; select the platform(s) that offer(s) the coverage most relevant to you. Add these to your internet ecosystem and subsequently feed them content.
For some time now, many have discussed a cross-platform strategy; however, it remained opaque how digital appliances are used on a global scale. An international survey by Millward Brown, concluded that mobile screens catch more eyeballs than television screens. Americans interact 151 minutes a day with their cell-phone and watch television for 147 minutes each day. In Asia, the cell-phone wins out even more. In China, the time spent on cell-phones is twice the time spent watching television. More than ever before, we use multiple screens for multiple purposes.
Originally, every device had its specific use. The traditional personal computer and laptop were used for work and research. The smartphone started out as a phone, a communication tool. Tablet, game consoles and interactive TV were devices for entertainment. That era has come to an end. We just as easily switch from one screen (or device) to the next; we use more than one device for the same purpose.
These days (nearly) all devices are screen-equipped for information and visual entertainment purposes. Web, mobile phones, tablet and even internet-connected devices (think of the energy monitor in your home) are part of the ecosystem. These devices are no longer stand-alone appliances, they are linked to and part of the digital world. This implies integration. The user must be enabled to consume content, irrelevant of the situation or the device. Therefore, content needs to presented in a way that adapts to the various platforms the fan or client uses; or, even more importantly, the user’s context. The fan or client does not use his smartphone because he prefers the small screen, but simply because that’s the screen that is available to him at that particular time and place. Think train travelers.
Multi-screen (shorthand for publication that is suited to various types of screens) is a given. We have to acknowledge the fact that the target group – fans and clients into EDM – consume content in this manner. We should stop focusing on stand-alone devices and integrate multi-screen in our digital strategy. Multi-screen is a fundamental aspect of the implementation of internet in your company’s set-up and it is a crucial component of your digital strategy.
Most DJs and event producers have been collecting various data concerning fans and clients for some time. Without being very much aware of it, they have compiled vast data bases. However, these data are used inadequately. Too much time and energy is invested in making choices based on the available tools, infrastructure and collected data. In order to make the next step, all this needs to be addressed and sorted. It requires a data strategy, which is indispensable. The alternative is the implementation of the limitless possibilities offered by various technological tools and solutions. A data strategy along these lines – explicitly linked to improving the return on the company’s business activities – is what most DJs and event producers lack, as well as the right drive to arrive at this type of strategy.
Many DJs and event producers needlessly complicate and thwart the use of data as part of the current operating processes. It results in delays, or puts projects on hold. A DJ or event producer is best served by incremental improvements of existing and available sources of information provision, as opposed to radically and rashly remodeling his information landscape just for technological reasons. That approach scarcely results in a connection to the objectives determined.
It is best to first examine all in-house systems and outside data sources for fan or client-related information and to express in a strategy what one exactly wants to know about this fan or client. This reveals the holes in the info on the fan relation. Repeat this process until the profile is collated from various sources and, consequently, the objectives can be realized. In this process, it is essential to increase the pay-off of the existing company activities: more scope, more brand loyalty, more turnover, more client information, more options for differentiated and personalized communication, etc.
EDM’s challenge lies in procuring data from sources outside the core industry, such as ticket providers and merchandisers, as well as information from iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud and various other music and video services. Practice shows that these services periodically share partial information and often their info is incomplete, as far as they are willing to share in the first place. This means that your digital strategy directly touches upon the selection of outside parties for cooperation. The overriding principle in the selection of partners is the sharing of data, which must be made available in the right and useful manner.
To develop the data strategy is a balancing act between the innovative actions, already undertaken by an organization, and the available means and options. The point of mapping out a data strategy is to select the actions that:
- Best complement existing objectives
- Can be implemented most effectively in the existing organizational structure and its existing information provisions
- Yield the best results
Designing a reliable data strategy centers on striking a balance between the available sources of information and the objectives identified via the ‘Intelligence Maturity Model’. This way, the implementation of data driven business and data driven work will be more focused; its progress more transparent. Pointer: make the data-intelligence stage itself data-driven and manageable.
The data are easier to ‘read’ as the result of a few general tactical decisions: by focusing on a solid data strategy and by disconnecting the data strategy from any discussions vis-à-vis computerization issues, such as technical tools and the problems and solutions regarding manageability. This also helps to translate the data into efficiency, vision and results. Thus you are in control of as well as in business with both the available data and the data that will be generated.
Some handles for the successful implementation of the data strategy are:
- Technology is not leading in the use of data. It is the people who use the technology, plus the translation of the objectives.
- Apply any potentiality that is available, use what you already have. Focus on the team members who are keen by character, and ditto outside persons with extensive know-how of the issues at hand. They will clear the way to the success of the personnel who handle (will handle) the data.
- You create knowledge by sharing knowledge. This is not a figure of speech, but the reality. It works both inside and outside the company. Cross-referencing datasets and the input of extra brains and eyes can generate surprising results.
From costs to earnings
Technology, internet and social media are frequently regarded to be expenses. Your online activities are aimed at raising your profile as DJ or event producer in the ecosystem of the fan. In order to achieve that result you have to create a special business unit. It is versatile in its actions and flexible in terms of structure and organization. It is targeting and creating (options for) new sources of revenue.
This unit should really be managed like it is a start-up company. You will have to learn how to cope, in a digital fashion, with the experiences of fans and clients. How to connect to and bond with a person who lives in the app-economy? Are they all the same and if so, in what way? Or are they all different, and if so, how different? How are we going to cultivate relationships of this type? The data generated by the cultivation of one’s personal internet ecosystem can be seen as a business model. This allows you to apply, for instance, the Canvas business model by Osterwalder (see Chapter 3).
Since this unit is managed as a stand-alone entity, it produces its special balance sheet. It must be managed like it is a ‘digital profit center’ that is self-sufficient in terms of budgeting. Its balance is used for accounting cost and profit in order to establish the Return of Platform Performance (ROPP).
The world is the world, both offline and online. The digital world is an integrated element of the physical world. DJs and event producers can only successfully operate in the internet ecosystem if they represent value in the daily lives of fans, enter into a relationship with the fans and win their trust. This is the focus of the digital strategy.
Formulating a strategy is not an easy thing to do. You have to find answers to questions like: Why? How? And What? Moreover, you have to keep an eye on the mechanisms of search engines, social networks, online services and operating systems; ditto for the various types of screens and interfaces. Content is the key to connection and connection the key to currency, as visualized by this overview.
Content is the cement. Social networks and your online domain are the sites where connections are made. You must always formulate your digital strategy with the fan or client in mind. What content, created by yourself or your fans and clients, will bind them to your ecosystem and, most importantly, will keep them coming back for more.
A sound digital strategy is an integrated element of the business strategy. To regard the internet ecosystem as a business system is an essential condition for success. The digital strategy opens up options to generate new value models and income models from the social networks; this works for the relationships of all parties concerned in the internet ecosystem. This means that your digital strategy must regard the internet ecosystem as a platform (domain, social networks, third party online services). This platform is self-sufficient and generates income while realizing the objectives of the digital strategy. Content is the cement of social networks. Data are the fuel that drive the system and capitalize on the income models.