Digital Transformation - Shaping Your Digital Future
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The way brands are being built is being re-shaped. This is in large part due to consumers’ digital habits; by-passing brands completely and opting for the likes of Amazon, Google or Tripadvisor to satisfy their needs and requirements as the tools of discovery for users.
So what can brands do when their market may be ripe for disruption? Start with why you exist and how you can migrate your offering, through digital transformation, in becoming a brand of authority and trust.
Authority and trust are two key assets brands can build a distinct unique selling point.
For brands that operate in a competitive marketplace, how the brand is perceived to a wider audience can be used as an advantage, in becoming a knowledge centre for your industry sector.
So what is a knowledge centre?
It’s about turning your digital brand into the “go-to destination for information, content and advice built through trusted, authoritative information that existing customers and prospects would be delighted by”
To transform your brand proposition into a digital knowledge centre, take a step back from the digital tactics being deployed and start with your purpose and reason for your brand existing.
The above diagram details the need for brands to stop rushing into the tactical elements of their digital activities, and consider if your brand, it’s purpose, and why it exists is really understood?
There is an obsession by digital marketers to embrace and drive straight into new channels and new tactics - jumping head first into a tactical plan and this can be a huge distraction when there is not a clearly defined strategy in place by first asking the question how you brand is aligned and if indeed your brand is being used as a valuable asset when building your tactical plans? For example, will this channel support our brand, does it connect to our purpose and can we create a point of difference from our competitors to offer value to new audiences?
Take a step back and ask, why do you exist and what do you offer? If the brand's purpose is not clearly understood and integrated within the journey through digital transformation, brands may be finding themselves lost.
Brands should consider answering these six steps as highlighted in the above diagram and stress test how their reason for existing, brand values are incorporated within future tactical elements of the strategy.
You should look to audit the digital platforms used by your brand that interacts with users. A deep audit should be considered for each platform (e.g. mobile, desktop, app) such as “channel” health and the tactics used to enhance the brand through the digital marketing mix: search, social media, syndication, email marketing, influencer marketing for example. Uncover your current position as well as opportunities to consider to further enhance your channels.
As well as auditing your brands own platforms, assess your competitor’s channels – the platforms being used, how they interact with their own customers and prospects and what your competitor’s motivations are through the use of a SWOT analysis and benchmarking report.
Emerging channels such as virtual assistance and voice search should also be taken into account when conducting the audit and how your brand is equipped for future disruption.
Understand and build awareness of your audience, your customers and focus on building engagement and collaboration with your audience through persona creation. Persona creation also helps to get buy-in across your organisation in helping to paint a picture and bring to life your customer profiles. By understanding your audience, it helps brands to align their proposition to what their customers really want, through what platform and what digital channel
A good example of a global brand that has done just that is the National Geographic, and their innovative use of Social media, through Instagram is a great example of a traditional brand, playing to their strengths as a trusted brand appealing to a global, environmental audience collaborating and working with their loyal followers by helping wannabe journalists and photographers promote great content through their branded social channels.
Photo by @amivitale. In the early morning light on Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania, fishermen use a net to pull in a kind of sardine that the locals call “dagaa.” As the sweeper boats get closer and closer to the main boat, these men begin pulling in the slack from the massive net. As they pull, they shake off the fish that are clinging to the net back into the water. Eventually, when there is only a few feet of net left in the water, the fish can be rolled in a large bundle onto the top of the boat. The lake holds nearly one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, is the world’s second largest lake by volume, is home to 250 endemic species of fish, and provides 40% of all protein for lakeshore villages. By sharing technical expertise and building local capacity, @nature_africa and @pathfinderint’s Tuungane Project is providing local people with the information they need to secure healthy fish stocks. Follow @nature_africa to learn more about the Tuungane Project and @amivitale for more stories from around the world! @thephotosociety @natgeocreative #freshwater #fishing #fishermen #sardines #sustainablefish #sustainableseafood #foodsecurity #conservation #seetheworld #laketanganyika #tanzania #africa #ig_africa #amivitale
Do you have a unique selling point at the heart of your digital strategy? What is your point of difference? A reason for existing and what do you provide your audience, your market sector that is different from other brands operating in the same sector?
Columbia operates in the highly competitive outdoor clothing market. They wanted to identify an opportunity to build relevancy with their audience and attract new audiences to their brand proposition through a mobile app.
From completing qualitative research to understand what their audience needs were, an App was developed called “What knot to do” – realising their audience were outdoors, away from the office who liked to walk and take on outdoor activities – Columbia developed an app providing useful information to support their audience activities centred around instructions in how to tie knots
Are you delivering your brands voice of authority? Are you informing and delighting your audience by telling a great brand narrative through the content you’re delivering and you have embraced digital tactics for users to find and consume your information? E.g. Search, Social, Influencer, Syndication? A brand needs active and engaging social channels and good customer support through the customer channel of choice.
A recent 2015 Searchmetrics report which assesses search ranking factors and the latest insights regarding the most important factors, suggests there is an opportunity for brands to drive their content marketing efforts around expanding their domain authority and reputation for associated content within their industry sector.
Have you crafted a consistent narrative that can be communicated through your online channels? Are you engaging in conversations through social media channels with your audience and are you building direct relationships with your customers and audience giving your brand a personality and a human element to your proposition and online reputation?
CDBABY and The music industry - The music industry was once driven by a small number of record companies who dictated the product placement, price and promotion should be given to a music artist. The record companies held the keys to launching the artist or your record to a global audience, it was through the record company the artist’s work would be produced, promoted and price set.
CDbaby was created to provide a solution to the thousands of independent musicians who were at the mercy of the large music distribution labels if they wanted to get their music in large chain record stores.
Are you providing your audience with true value and utility? Are you striving to ensure your brand is creating a need or want that your audience would want to use every day and there is a reason to return to you as a brand every day? Something that stands out in a media saturated world by building an emotional connection with the customer.
Brands are clambering on the digital band wagon but using the same techniques they used in a bygone era of broadcasting their message through buying up media space (Radio, TV, ad impressions) but it is no longer working: appealing to the masses means appealing to no one.
Brands need to spend more time to get to know their audience and know what motivates their audience and be reaching out, engaging with not just your audience but prospects and the general online traffic through channels such as social media. Look to support the needs and answer the questions being posed by social traffic as well as consider your content marketing efforts to be creating the answers to popular questions associated with your industry.
Eric Schmidt in 2008 famously said “Brands are the solution, not the problem” – and it’s true. Brands are facing more disruption to their sector as well as the challenge of engaging with their audience and retaining relevancy.
Learn to take a step back from the digital tactics and begin to assess how the tactics your brand is deploying is connected with your brand purpose, your 'Why' you exist. By creating and defining your brand as a knowledge centre helps to reconnect your brand, its purpose, its point of difference, and your reason for existence in offering true value and connection.
By Simon Swan
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