Digital Marketing Strategy: Drive it Like You Stole It!

by Rik Walters

digital marketing

I’ve always had a passion for cars — fast cars. That passion for speed extends to my digital marketing strategies, and so I wondered, why can’t we drive digital marketing like we stole it? You know, run through the gears, get the RPM close to the redline and see what that machine can do.

I have had to pleasure of speaking with many leading Silicon Valley CEOs over the past two years. More than two-thirds explained their top concern is a lack of strategic execution, with an average of only 30 percent of strategic initiatives successfully executed on time in their organizations. These enterprise leaders feel the lack of execution can be related to how fast their teams move and how quickly they move on from failure. What do you think the reason is for the lack of execution? How can you accelerate the execution of strategic initiatives in your company?

Start Your Engines
An initial strategy meeting with the digital team establishes critical workflow definition and tactical framework as an important first step. Involving stakeholders in the beginning will dictate which types of digital technologies should be used, with whom the responsibility lies to execute the plan and sets a realistic timeline that speeds up the process.

Have an understanding of up-front risks with approval to fail quickly. This provides a stable foundation on which to apply ever-changing digital marketing strategy objectives — and pivot when something fails. As an enterprise leader, you have the keys to strategic success right in front of you. It is important to understand the barriers to execution in your company. Some barriers are real; others are perceived.

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”  — Mark Zuckerberg 

Breaking Down Barriers
Breaking down the barriers to execution is a constant struggle for the C-Suite. Much of this breakdown is self-induced by not defining the processes clearly or involving stakeholders early, as well as the inability to drive execution while taking risks.

Here are four ways to prevent barriers to execution:

  1. Organizational transparency: An open environment that allows honesty with others and ourselves within the framework of teams removes barriers. If something or someone fails, admit it openly, learn from it and move on.
  2. Originality and individuality: Today’s workplace is an open-source environment full of great ideas that fit within the strategic plan. Trust your talented people. As George S. Patton said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity”.
  3. Learning: When employees work together as a team, every employee learns from one another by building chemistry and trust.
  4. Teamwork: An important byproduct of transparency and learning is teamwork within the organization. This cohesion is a result of winning — and sometimes losing — together.

Many executives attempt to speed up strategic execution by only changing processes or installing new technologies. Better processes and systems alone will not remove the barriers. Instead, organizations must support these three collaborative success factors: goal clarity, collaborative unity and agility.

“I don’t think what makes a good race car driver is a fearless person. I think its somebody that is comfortable being behind the wheel of something that’s somewhat out of control.” — Jeff Gordon

The Road to Success
The road to success has its share of straightaways, “S curves,” hairpin turns and pit stops. A successful marketing strategy has tactical definition. Look for areas that require fine-tuning and, at times, a complete overhaul. Articulating the right tactics to execute will ensure the proper resources are in place to support the path to continuous success.

Moving fast certainly increases the amount of risk taking, and the potential “breakage.” However, keep in mind that each small failure provides an opportunity for your team to learn, move past that failure and learn lessons for the next endeavor. And let’s be honest, this type of “breakage” will occasionally occur, so plan for it upfront and move past the fear — so you can drive it like you stole it!


Rik WatersRik Walters is a digital and social media marketing adviser. He focuses on leading digital and social media marketing strategies for high-growth companies, setting a strategic course of brand content (social media/blogs), positioning and architecture. Follow him on Twitter @RikWalters and  LinkedIn.