Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Seven Strategy Steps for modern communication

I thought it may help to examine how organisations can develop strategies. This is at the beginning of the thinking and in no special order but its a start and I only have seven considerations.

I guess the place most people will start is that place of record. The company or brand web site.

Strategically, for a corporate web site we can imagine it as the place where the most visitors come each day to engage on corporate matters. For an etail site it is the flagship store and the trade site is an invitation into the biggest and busiest warehouse and so forth.

Strategy consideration 1

So our first strategy action point is the examine investment at a level that reflects the opportunity. For example there is significant evidence that corporate web sites are extensively used by financial analysis, investors, prospective employees, NGO's, regulators, vendors and many other stakeholders. Equally, if in general, retail sales on line are 15% of all retail activity, does the etail site offer an opportunity to access this business and will that be incremental business, will it enhance sales at bricks and mortar sites, will the return on investment be recovered at a lower cost to deliver added bottom line profits. All the indication suggest this is the case.

We now have available a lot of information about who, why and how people visit our web sites.

For example, the research is telling us that prospective customers come to a web site for a whole range of reasons through the buying process including, according to the Enquiro study, awareness, research, negotiation and purchase and, one can add, to reconfirm and justify the decision after purchase.

Strategy consideration 2

Our second strategy is to consider each of these instances and have relevant content for each of the visitor's needs. The strategy will set out to resolve the requirements for why people should search for, explore, find information and save it ready for the next visit.

Of course, as part of this process, the strategy will include SEO and will ensure that every page of the web site reflects the relevant company values which will be both obvious to the visitor and to the semantic algorithms used by search engines.

Strategy consideration 3

Our third strategy consideration is one of access.

In an era of user created market, and social segments that change and morph all the time, it is important to maintain an interest in the wider adoption of online media to create access.

Is access only to be through a PC or laptop or will it include games consoles, USB ports, mobile phones, kiosks and the panoply of devices that are available across the market?. How do people keep engaged with the company, product or brand? Is it one device or many and, for the time being, never mind the volume of people or even the number of visits because should the devices engage enough and is interesting for people at different stages in relationship building the pay off will come elsewhere.

For example Twitter. We have some good figures about the number of people who visit its web site But we don't have a clue as to how many people use tools like Twirl, mobile phones and Blackberrys to engage through Twitter. These dispersed metrics are going to be ever more diverse and difficult for the traditional marketing person to manage.

Strategy consideration 4

My fourth strategy focuses on content and content management. Lets take the case of a new product launched in California at 10 am local time. Of course, it missed most of Europe because they are enjoying an aperitif and, by the time the news cycle reaches Stonehenge, the story is so old there is not a journalist on earth who wants to cover it. No, the content strategy has to start at some point and as it goes through the time zones it needs refreshing with new and relevant insights, references to comments about it and to give a reason for bloggers and journalists and Susan and her friends swapping the news in Bebo. At what point in this cycle are employees engaged and those many organisations that work for the company (like consultants, vendors, and commercial partners)?

Strategy consideration 5

This content strategy also has to be able to serve many channels for communication. Can the strategy encompass words for twitter, bloggers, newspapers, feature writers. Does it have capacity for associated pictures, interactive AJAX graphical content, news updates and other mashups or widgets. Is there, strategically, room for video, podcast or an interactive second life avatar that can be controlled with a Nintendo Wii? Does this story warrant its own social media microsite, wiki, poll or user evaluation?

Strategy consideration 6

The sixth strategy are those management imperatives such as rules of engagement for employees and other organisations closely associated with the organisation.

Strategy consideration 7

The seventh strategy consideration encompasses both risk management embedded in the approach and crisis management capability - because we are all professionals.

Of course, there will be other versions. I welcome comments.