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Developing a Long-Term Digital Strategy

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Open any business journal, and inevitably you will see an article about digital transformation. It is a buzzword in today’s marketing, business and strategy world. But how does that apply to professional services firms? During this session, at the 2017 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference, we look at how to move beyond discreet digital projects (i.e. creating a website, amplifying your message through social and/or fine-tuning your email communications) in favor of a comprehensive multi-year strategy that focuses on continuous improvement, optimization and multi-channel communications. We examine how law firms and other professional services organizations are investing in digital as a core business development and marketing asset.

Specifically, we touch on how to:

1). Break free from the confines of defined project stages (beginning, middle, end), and instead adopt a more fluid approach that allows for continuous, incremental investment

2). Plan strategic short-term actions that will support a long-term vision

3). Collect, analyze and apply data in order to sustain digital momentum

4). Tackle budgeting and assemble strong cross-functional teams to support digital efforts

5). Implement a governance plan to measure and promote progress year after year

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Developing a Long-Term Digital Strategy

  1. 1. Kalev Peekna Chief Strategist One North Interactive Digital Endurance: Developing a Long-Term Digital Strategy Dan Tines Digital Marketing Manager Plante Moran
  2. 2. My complicated relationship with sports talk in business
  3. 3. “I dunno… it all looks like millionaires in their pajamas to me.”
  4. 4. Kalev: “So is that the one with the orange bouncy ball, or the one with the pillows?” Colleague: “Pillows?” Kalev: “You know, the pillows on the lawn. And then they throw something at the guy running around the pillows… Throwball?”
  5. 5. Colleague: “Want to join me and the client for golf?” Kalev: “I don’t understand. What have I done to offend you?”
  6. 6. “If one more person interrupts this meeting to congratulate a grown-a** man who bounces a ball for a living, I swear I will loop the Paris fashion shows on every monitor in this office for the next two weeks.”
  7. 7. An Outsider’s Perspective on Which Sports We Talk About
  8. 8. Sport is a Huge Industry $498.4B Size of sports industry, US $34.9B Spent in sports advertising, US US professional athletes earn a median annual pay of $1,500B Size of sports industry, Global 14,000 $45K
  9. 9. You Love Sports, But Probably Not All Sports Each year, The Harris Poll surveys the US, asking respondents to name their favorite sport. In 2016, the winners were: 1. Football 2. Baseball 3. College Football 4. Auto Racing 5. Basketball ♂ 6. Hockey 7. Soccer ♂ 8. College Basketball ♂ 9. Golf ♂ 10. Boxing 11. Swimming 12. Track & Field 13. Horse Racing 14. Soccer ♀ 15. College Basketball ♀ 16. Basketball ♀ 17. Tennis ♂ 18. (Not sure)
  10. 10. Where Are the Endurance Sports? Of the top sports in America, only 4* are considered “endurance” sports that require athletes to train for sustained performance over long periods of time. They all require effort (cough, ahem, golf), but most of these athletes train for specific skills and short bursts of activity. 1. Football 2. Baseball 3. College Football 4. Auto Racing 5. Basketball ♂ 6. Hockey 7. Soccer ♂ 8. College Basketball ♂ 9. Golf ♂ 10. Boxing 11. Swimming 12. Track & Field 13. Horse Racing 14. Soccer ♀ 15. College Basketball ♀ 16. Basketball ♀ 17. Tennis ♂ 18. (Not sure) *Source: ESPN. Only 3 if you count men’s and women’s soccer together Not on this list: • Cycling • Triathlons • Hiking • Distance Swimming • Skiing • Field Hockey • Canoeing/Kayaking • Rugby • Wrestling • Skating (speed & figure)
  11. 11. Why Not Endurance? It doesn’t seem hard to guess why we don’t connect with endurance sports so easily: • “Favorite” = “entertaining” • Long attention spans are as common as happy, earnest teenagers • Two words: commercial break • We all like a quick win
  12. 12. Introducing the Bimodal Problem
  13. 13. We Have a Problem, and It Looks Like ThisEffort Time $$$ $$$
  14. 14. Why “Bimodal”? Economists and analysts call camel-hump curves like this “bimodal” because they reflect two different “modes” or clusters. In digital marketing, the bimodal problem works like this: • Years 1-2: Large investment to create a new platform (e.g., website) • Years 3-5: “Run the platform” with minimal reinvestment • Years 6-7: Replace with a newer, bigger, better platform
  15. 15. Introducing the Bipolar Problem
  16. 16. Welcome to the Emoticoaster “Yay! We got our funding!” “Thanks, suckers… I mean… stakeholders!”
  17. 17. You Dig In with Gusto “Kickoff! So cool!” “I wonder if it comes in purple.”
  18. 18. You Start to Get Slammed… “This is harder than I thought. But still cool.”
  19. 19. Now It’s Pushing Everything Else Aside “This is way harder than I thought…”
  20. 20. But You’re Dedicated – You’re In It to Win “So close to the finish! Go go go”
  21. 21. Success! “Launch! You’re awesome! We’re awesome! You know what this team deserves? Motivational T-shirts!”
  22. 22. You Deal with the Aftermath “Wait, we can’t be out of money already…”
  23. 23. You Try to Stick to the Plan “Just a few things to fix…”
  24. 24. Your Real Job Needs You Back “I’d love to… but I gotta get back to my real job.”
  25. 25. A Competitor Launches Something New “Yes, I saw what the other guys did. Yes, it’s cool. We’re still cool, right?”
  26. 26. Regret Sets In “I really need this; I don’t dare ask for money.”
  27. 27. Indifference Sets In “Eh. I guess it still looks OK.”
  28. 28. Same Old, Same Old “I’m so sick of looking at this thing.”
  29. 29. The Tide Turns “I’m embarrassed to show it to people. Why can’t we ever have nice things?”
  30. 30. Blamestorms Are Good at Hiding Irony “Who the heck agreed to this? This is terrible.”
  31. 31. You Hit Bottom “I hate this thing with the intensity of a thousand burning suns."
  32. 32. You Get an Idea “The partners hate it too? I know what to do.
  33. 33. Your Devious Plan Knows No Equal “Dear partners: The struggle is real. This thing is single- handedly responsible for everything wrong.”
  34. 34. …And It Starts All Over “Yay! We got our funding!” “Thanks, suckers… I mean… stakeholders!”
  35. 35. But Wait It’s Worse Than You Think
  36. 36. Cycles Overlap as They Repeat Chances are good that you approach most of your major investments this way – leading to a staggered, but relentless, shift of attention from one thing to the next. Web CRM Brand EMM Proposals WebEvents
  37. 37. Existing Capabilities Existing Capabilities Over Time, the $$$ Only Goes Up New Abilities When you approach your major digital investments as “redesigns” or “replatforms,” then improvements can only be achieved as supplements to existing capabilities.
  38. 38. So What is This Costing Us? Aside from the emotional whiplash, the Bimodal Curve presents you with bigger obstacles than you may realize: • Feature hoarding leads to too much spend • “Strategy” happens in only one dimension, one moment at a time • Narrow focus on platforms and toolsets at the expense of what you’re using them to accomplish • Inability to react to emerging needs and market conditions • Out-of-sync, siloed digital capabilities
  39. 39. So Why Does it Keep Happening?
  40. 40. Why Are We Stuck on the Bimodal Curve? Because “projects” are how your partners - consultants, lawyers, bankers, etc.- solve problems Effort spikes tightly limit your attention We tend to think in campaigns We like shiny new things Fear that once the project is over, you can never touch it again Only a big, quick win can make all the work worthwhile Because you need to be terrible in order to convince others to be great
  41. 41. Let’s Look at an Alternative
  42. 42. Welcome to the Digital Endurance CurveEffort Time
  43. 43. Hallmarks of the Digital Endurance Curve Digital Endurance involves a completely different mindset, one closer to product (and software) development than a typical marketing campaign: • No presumption of obsolescence. Platforms are here to stay. • Investments and improvements are iterative, incremental, sustained. • Predictability of spend over time. • Increased ability to assess market conditions and refactor strategies. • Coordination with other platforms is easier. • No more redesigns / replacements
  44. 44. Any Real Life Examples?
  45. 45. 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
  46. 46. 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
  47. 47. 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
  48. 48. 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
  49. 49. 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
  50. 50. 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
  51. 51. 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
  52. 52. 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
  53. 53. 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
  54. 54. 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
  55. 55. 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
  56. 56. amazon.com, ca. 2006 amazon.com, ca. 2016
  57. 57. Going for Endurance
  58. 58. Digital Endurance Digital Endurance requires an entirely different mindset – a shift in perspective, planning, skills, budgeting, measurement, and so on. And just like marathon training, most of the changes have to start with you: • Moving from project execution to program management • Dedicated leadership, both in and out of marketing • Data-driven, results-oriented decision making • Iterative budgeting and dynamic adjustment of goals
  59. 59. From Project to Program Management Perhaps the biggest change needed is to stop thinking about your major digital efforts – Email, CRM, Website, even Brand – as projects. It’s much better to think of your digital efforts as ongoing programs rather than discrete projects: Project Management Program Management • Defined beginning, middle and end • Ongoing – literally never ends • One big effort • Arrangement of successive efforts • Isolated schedule • Tied to financial/governance schedules • Manager-level leadership • Executive-level leadership • Execution focused • Vision focused
  60. 60. Long-Term Vision, Short-Term Actions One important discipline program management inherits from its roots in software development is the arrangement of efforts into a release schedule rather than a big launch followed by minor tweaks: A release structure doesn’t just even out effort and spend. It is the key to providing better control, predictability, and flexibility into your efforts. It ensures continued progress while also discouraging focus on tactical, ad hoc adjustments. Project Tweak Tweak Release 1 Release 2 Release 3 Release 4
  61. 61. Rethinking How You Scope In a program managed on a release schedule, success is only possible if you break down larger efforts into components that build on each other. A traditional project often squeezes too much into a single effort, making it very hard to control your focus: Website Problems? Let’s do a Big, Giant, Redesign Project! Brand Alignment Visual Design Tech Platform Data Integration Services Structure Content Focus SEO Analytics Internal Engagement Geographic LocalizationSearch
  62. 62. Rethinking How You Scope Your thinking about budget also needs to change. One of the biggest shifts is to start thinking about your efforts as budget and/or schedule-constrained, rather than scope-constrained. You won’t know (even one year ahead) everything that will be in each release. This approach may seem risky, but it actually limits feature hoarding and trains your team to focus on the highest-impact investments. Budget to Scope How much will all this cost? Scope to Budget How much can we get for this much $$
  63. 63. Establishing New Marketing Leadership At many firms, the Comms Director often owns “digital” by default. But an enduring digital program requires dedicated leadership of the sort that few PSOs have in place today: • Executive-level interaction (i.e. Director) • Focused on business vision, governance and performance • Develops digital capabilities across tools and platforms • Manages cross-functional teams of Marketing, IT, BD, etc. • Does not have 100+ other things to do
  64. 64. Data is a Habit, Not a Fad Most PSOs have lots of data to look at, but in a bimodal cycle, where there’s no promise of being able to do anything in response, it can seem a little pointless. Data tends to be used only when you have to ask for money. A well-run digital program should operate like it’s addicted to data. Release 1 Release 2 Release 3 Release 4 Review & Decide Review & Decide Review & Decide Review Data Review Data Review Data Review Data Review Data Review Data Review Data Review Data Review & Decide
  65. 65. Budgeting Dynamically, Iteratively Most firms still budget on a strict annual basis. But some professional service firms are switching to a quarterly model that allows more flexibility. There are many benefits of budgeting this way for a digital program: • “Big asks” become smaller, less frequent • Spend predictability • Avoiding sunk costs • Ability to pivot on priorities Also, make sure you fill your partner’s food bowl before the budget meeting Of course, you still need to budget. And you need to explain how it will be spent. The big difference is that instead of “extraordinary” projects, you build the cost of your digital program into your regular operating budget.
  66. 66. Parting Thought
  67. 67. Poor, Poor Twitter Twitter has been looking for a buyer almost since Jack Dorsey re-took control in 2014. Salesforce seemed like a likely choice, but Marc Benioff’s board rebelled against the idea. The problem isn’t usage; it’s momentum: Twitter hasn’t significantly improved its offering in years, and because of that, investors aren’t confident they can turn usage into revenue. In short, no one knows the vision for Twitter.
  68. 68. Snap This Slide Consider, on the other hand, Snapchat. Despite the same revenue model as Twitter (advertising) and lower projections, the one-time “sexting” app is set to be one of the largest tech IPOs in history: $4,000,000,000. The secret? Snapchat has made a regular habit of new features and integrations, creating confidence about its ability to grow in the future. Snapchat’s vision, which ultimately extends to a complete disruption of consumer imaging, is clear and compelling.
  69. 69. People don’t invest into past accomplishments, nor into current performance. People invest into the future.

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