Building Strategy Forward

Marketers and agencies oftentimes refer to digital as “surround.” Which usually means it’s considered a secondary campaign priority with television holding ground in the middle. In the spirit of purposefully challenging the status quo, I’d like to offer up an alternative perspective.

What should be in the middle is an idea. An idea inspired by purpose that puts a brand in a position to do something, not just say something. An idea that leads by example, in service of people. An idea like this deserves to be in the middle; the how and where are the surround.

Tactic-first thinking (e.g., TV, social, print) forces people to build strategy backwards. SEE: a way to justify why they came up with the idea in the first place. This is a wasteful approach that will lead to uninspired agency creatives and less remarkable ideas.

Rather than thinking about digital as surround, think about it as the first ring around your idea. The Internet, after all, is always on and doesn’t depend on interruptions in the form of TV, banners, print or any other paid media placement begging for people’s attention.

When you’re planning for the networked world, the idea is the common thread that stitches an experience together in a meaningful way. It makes everything feel intended, personal and intuitive. People lose sight of how you’re doing it or where they are. It just happens.

Which brings me back to where we started. If you’re referring to digital as surround, you’re building strategy backwards. If you stay true to your purpose and focus on ideas, you’ll find yourself building strategy forward towards something people will truly be interested in.