If we were to believe the hype, online and offline, then it would be natural to conclude that the greatest threat to running a successful and sustainable business is the failure to remain in touch with the leading edge of digital developments.
An entire digital industry has grown up over the last twenty years. An industry preoccupied with all things digital: new business models, social media, search engine optimisation, search engine management, video, platforms, mooches and so forth. These are all fantastic tools that can give our business and our marketing a serious competitive advantage. However, that is not the whole picture. In fact, it is a distortion.
Digital, business's new shiny object, has fundamentally changed how we do business, how we buy and sell. Digital is ubiquitous, it is everywhere. I am writing on my tablet with my smartphone beside me. We are all 'plugged in' most of the time. However...
One should not confuse the pervasiveness of digital with its importance to business. What has happened is that some people have thought that digital actually is business. As if the only thing that matters is having a great digital strategy and being able to deliver on it. Measurement is not everything!
I would argue that the greatest threat to most businesses is not being out of touch with digital developments. The greatest threat is losing sight of the business fundamentals, in other words the needs of your target customers and the fundamentals of your business model.
I keep coming back to the same questions, "Why should people bother to buy from you when they can buy from the competition?" and "What makes you different from the rest?"
These questions need to be answered. And of course very few get to the heart of these questions. And without a clear customer value proposition, no end of great digital proposition will win over a slightly jaded and over-stimulated audience.
So, with a clear understanding of what the market needs and wants then your digital strategy can come into its own - as part of the marketing strategy - if it is appropriate. But we must not assume that every business needs a digital strategy to survive.
Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of the power of digital marketing. My businesses are living proof of what digital can do for a business. It just doesn't matter how cute a digital strategy you have if you haven't addressed the fundamental needs of your customers.
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