Digital isn’t a department

Many companies are trying to “manage” the onslaught of changes brought about by today’s digital trends by creating a department to deal with all of the new technologies, social networks, web trends, marketing automation and other aspects of this quickly changing landscape.

I get it. It’s a lot to wrap your arms around. It’s comforting to know you don’t have to keep up. But the truth is – you do. I’m not suggesting that everyone in your organization needs to have the same level of knowledge – but everyone has to understand digital isn’t a department. It’s a mindset.

The question is about the shift in thinking when it comes to the word and the idea of digital. As social media and content marketing emerged – organizations scrambled to either hire people with skills in all things digital to create digital departments or in the case of some of the larger companies – hired agencies and just outsourced the whole thing.

Fortunately, we’re winding down the “shiny object” of the digital invasion and now saner heads are prevailing. When it comes to marketing, digital is a medium, just like print and broadcast. Like all mediums, it comes with its own set of etiquettes and rules but at the end of the day – a good marketing strategy should be driving companies to/through all media options and executions.

But digital isn’t just about marketing. Digital has become this overlay – that literally touches every aspect of daily life for most people.

Because digital is so ubiquitous – there isn’t a person or position in your company today that shouldn’t be taking it into account with every business decision they make. Even if you are using traditional media to drive a message, there is a digital play or connection.

It’s really those two moments in time colliding – companies getting a little maturity under their belts in terms of their digital chops and consumers weaving digital technology into every aspect of their life that is forcing all of us to re-think how we position our digital skills.

Assuming you buy this logic – how do you help your entire team stay current and fired up?

Assign expert roles/areas of expertise: Things in the digital space are moving too quickly for any one person to stay on top of it all. So you’ll need to assign different team members to different aspects and hold them accountable for staying current.

Lunch and learns: To spread that expertise throughout the entire organization, there should be a regular schedule of lunch and learns, where the internal experts can share the latest updates and agency successes.

Hire the right partners: Be wary of any agency that offers to simply handle all of your digital needs, without involving you and your team. While it’s tempting to just hand it all off, you need to weave your company’s culture and vision into how you present yourself digitally. Look for a partner who will do the heavy lifting but keep you in the mix.

Be choosy: Part of what makes digital so overwhelming is there’s so much to learn and everything changes in a blink. The good news is – most of it is irrelevant to your business. Having a digital strategy that actually contributes to your bottom line is about understanding your customers, their digital footprint and how you can interact with them there. You figure that out and you can eliminate a lot of the noise and distractions that can derail your marketing efforts.

The digital landscape is now woven into every aspect of your company from sales to customer service to accounting. That means that everyone, not just the marketing team, needs to be committed to embracing these trends and leveraging them to serve your customers how/where they’re spending so much of their time.

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