3 Digital Strategy Mistakes Learned the Hard Way

For more than two years now, Amy Leaman and I have shepherded over 20 clients through a process of digital strategy development. Applied to clients and projects both large and small, this internally-developed process has undergone substantial shifts and revisions in that time.

The process – which we call “mapping” – allows us to gather a deeper understanding of how both our clients and their campaigns have evolved over time, which we can use to help construct a ‘digital roadmap’ for their future campaign and organizational strategy.

This post is something of a public reflection on how our process has evolved over the years to better serve clients and their projects. In particular, I want to share these 3 key lessons: 

  • No tactics without a strategy. In the early days of the firm, our youthful energy often led us to try out new things, to the point where we sometimes placed tools and tactics ahead of the strategy itself. We’ve since learned that there’s an appreciable difference between testing out new tools and tactics and flailing around without a plan.

  • No strategy without an organizing program. A clear digital strategy means nothing without the appropriate team – not to mention the equipment and capacity – to execute it on a day-to-day basis.  When Amy & I reflected on the some of our large projects from 2013, our greatest regret was a failure to ensure the concrete execution of the digital strategy after our engagement was completed.

  • No organizing program without a great story. My own background in social change and digital engagement comes from an approach that places very little emphasis on storytelling. However, the type of public narrative popularized by Marshall Ganz has been extremely popular among our clients, and it has taken some work and investment on my end to evolve my thinking and planning to meet clients in their organizing frameworks.

It’s been an evolutionary process for both myself and the (growing!) cStreet Campaigns team, but it has also been a deeply rewarding one. As anyone who’s ever gone through one of our digital strategy ‘mapping’ sessions knows, though these far-flung, far-reaching conversations take a great deal of time, thought, and insight, we’re able to shape them into a digital strategy that’s much more coherent and responsive to their particular needs.

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash