[This post was inspired mostly by a KMDI event that I rambled at - while attempting to explain digital strategy via magic the gathering, I realized that example wasn’t meaningfully accessible (my social circle has a very high geek quotient). This is my attempt to explain it in a more direct manner.]
I essentially have the same job as my father. He’s a transportation planner, and I work in digital strategy.
Let me go back a step.
My father doesn’t know how to build a car. Or a bus. Or a subway. He knows the basics of driving and using one, but he’s definitely not a transit operator. He couldn’t design a car or a bus, but he knows when one has the right features for usability. He doesn’t design highways, but he can tell you how the population patterns around one will result in gridlock, or increased transit usage.
He doesn’t design any of the pieces. He knows what they all do, knows how to interpret the data regarding their use, and knows how to make the suggestions and recommendations that result in a functional system. If all the pieces play nicely together, cars and buses and light rail and trains and subways, the transportation planner(s) have done their job(s).
I’ve tried to explain what I do in a lot of ways, but this is probably the clearest one.
My focus is the consumer (commuter). They have a bunch of different touch points (transport options) that all build to the same goal, getting them information they want and/or need (getting them from place to place).
I might consult on the layout of each individual digital touch point (transport option), but I’m not the guy who builds them. I don’t know how to code a website (build a car) well enough to do it meaningfully.
I’m responsible for knowing what all the pieces are supposed to do, knowing how people use them, and figuring out how to link them together in a way that helps people do what they want to do, and migrate between touch points.
Abandoning the metaphor, this includes social strategy, content strategy, CRM, site, mobile, LBM, applications, in-store, experiential, etc etc etc. Again, I’m not a master at executing all of these things - I’m just aware of what they all do, how they all work, and the role they play in creating an integrated experience.
So, Digital Strategy is Transportation Planning. This is my answer next time I have the ‘what does that mean?’ conversation.