The role of the ‘digital strategist’ is a hard one to define, because it takes many forms, depending on type of agency, client, location, and a number of other variables I can’t think of right now.
Anyway, that’s already been written about quite a lot* and basically what being a digital strategist is, is what being any other kind of strategist should be, i.e. someone who understands their clients’ objectives and target audience needs and knows how to make the two meet somewhere usefully and beautifully in the middle…
Instead, I decided to write about the types of skills that come in useful when you are being a strategist in this so-called digital age. I came up with so much stuff and it ended up being so long, I’ve split it into 5 parts, which I’ll run all this week. I’ve probably not nearly covered all the skills, there’s such a variety of people who are ‘strategists’, but these are the skills valued by the strategy team at Equator.
So here’s part 1, which is all about
1. Quantitative analysis
Back in the day, as a junior planner in an ad agency, I got all trained up in using TGI and running data to understand and segment my target audiences and look for interesting correlations and so on. Do they still do this in creative agencies? I know media agencies still do. (I’ve not done a TGI run for about 6 years since I gatecrashed Mediacom on behalf of a mutual client.) I hope they do. Hopefully the questions are keeping up with technology a bit faster than they used to.
No matter, the point is more that digging around in data is really important. Not only do you find things that are interesting about the people you want to engage with, you also learn to ask lots of different questions in order to find the best route in to your strategy. You also obviously have facts and not just hunches to inspire, or back up your strategies.
For digital agencies, there’s not that much point in signing up to TGI, but there’s plenty of other useful data sources out there. The obvious ones are Google Analytics and Comscore, and then there’s nice bespoke ones agencies like People Pulse that MRY/Digitas LBi have (very jealous of that). YouGov profiler is a nice free one if you’re just looking for a view on who your ‘average customer’ is.
I was once told in an appraisal, a long time ago, that my love for digging around in data was killing my creativity… So a bit part of this skill is always staying on top of the detail and not getting too hung up on the numbers either. Like I say, they can lead to the insight that leads to the route, but sometimes you’re better going into the data once you have a hunch and trying to prove that instead.
So there you are.
And hey, I haven’t mentioned ‘big data’ once.
Tomorrow,I’ll talk about qualitative analysis. You know, focus groups and that kind of thing.
*The role of the digital strategist has been the subject of debate across a great many other blogs for quite some time now, and if you’re interested, here are some articles you could read:
Why the role of the digital strategist needs to evolve // Jinal Shah (Pretty comprehensive overview of the role, with very interesting comment discussion on the role too.)
The no-bullshit strategist // Matt Daniels (A thought provoking response to Shah’s analysis.)
Why the world doesn’t need another digital strategist // Mark Pollard (Pollard says, we actually do need digital strategists, just not the way you think we do.)