To structure our thinking about digital strategy we are developing a framework together with Jim Richardson of Sumo. The framework, which we soft launch at MuseumNext in Barcelona next week and of which a rough sketch is shown below, is supposed to help organisations develop successful digital strategies. I believe there are some fresh ideas in the framework, such as how we oppose digital outreach and engagement, but it’s also based on the tried and true ideas of thinkers like Jim Collins.

One of the most interesting points of debate we’ve come across in our workshops around the framework and in other work we’ve done on digital strategy, is the question: What are the main ingredients of a successful digital strategy? What are the building blocks that determine success? How do we start our thinking about digital outreach or engagement activities?

I believe we should start with a focus on our key assets and target audiences.

The key building blocks of a digital strategy are the assets you can use and the specific audiences you want to engage or reach out to. Between assets and audiences are activities: either those that engage existing audiences with specific assets, or those that use assets to reach out to new target groups.

Assets can be anything from your building, friendly front desk staff and the quality of your café to your products, customer service and loyalty programme. Audiences, of course, are small and specific groups of people you either reach already or want to reach. In our workshops we always try to be as specific as possible with both. Both assets and audiences should be labeled almost “individually”, so the activities that connect them can really achieve your objectives.

(Imagine, do you think it’s easier to design a successful campaign that connects the elderly with your website or one that connects local art students with your collection of old game consoles?)

The strength of using assets and audiences to design digital strategy again became apparent to me in a project we’re doing at the moment. Last week we spent two days in London with Rouge Events to gather the essential input for an innovative arts festival in 2013. We talked a lot about key influencers, target groups and content strategy and gathered hundreds of post-its with their ideas about assets and audiences.

With the client’s input, today we tried to come up with a concise, simple and yet effective set of activities and campaigns for the festival. Following the project’s objectives it was an easy puzzle with nevertheless uncommon and “different” outcomes. Assets and audiences almost combined themselves into activities.

So, next time you have to design a digital strategy for your organisation, a project or campaign, get out some post-its and colleagues and specify your assets and audiences. Take a wall and post your assets on the left, your audiences on the right and I promise you’ll come up with great activities that connect them through outreach or engagement that will outdo many of your traditional marketing efforts. (And please tell us if you’ve done so, because we’re always looking for case studies to use in our workshops!)

Digital Engagement Framework

Digital Engagement Framework