Are You Playing Twister or Chess?

Posted by Paul Brookes on May 1, 2017 1:50:00 PM

What’s your Digital Game Plan?

Some brands lurch from one social channel to the next, chasing the latest bright shiny object. Digital tools and social channels should be used like chess pieces, supporting each other as part of long view digital strategy.

I learned to play chess from a housemate in university who had been ranked as a youth player. I don’t mean that I learned the rules from him - I learned those as a kid. I mean that I actually learned a bit a strategy.

Thankfully for me, I think it was pretty boring for him to continually mop the floor with me, so he took pity on me and taught a few tricks to make his game a bit more interesting. I was never actually particularly good. But sometimes I could at least slow him down a bit.

The best advice he gave me was to approach each and every move with intention. Have a plan in mind; control the centre, pin down your opponent’s Queen, open up your back board, … something! Even if it’s a short term strategy, have a goal in mind. Don’t just move a piece haphazardly for the sake of moving it. A move without intention, that doesn’t support a strategy, is a waste of effort and a missed opportunity.

This is great advice for Digital Marketers as well.

Looking at your digital ecosystem can feel like looking at a chess board at the beginning of the game. You’ve got all these pieces at your disposal, and so many opportunities to pursue. You cannot really start using your big guns until you get some pawns in place, but it’s tempting to dive in and start making some bold moves.

Some brands lurch from one social channel to the next, chasing the latest bright shiny object. The website is out of date, so let’s dive into an exhausting and expensive rebuild. Snapchat is gaining ground, so let’s target some millennials. Competitors are using promoted Facebook posts, so we’d better up the game with Facebook Live video.

This isn’t a digital game plan. This is Twister. And the problem with Twister, aside from the chiropractor bills, is that when you put your foot on the blue circle, you had to take it off the green one. It divides your attention and moves resources away from other efforts – sometimes just as those efforts are starting to gain traction and bear fruit.

Digital tools and social channels should be used like chess pieces, as part of long-view digital strategy. And you can apply some of the best lessons of the chess board to your digital game plan:

Plan a few moves ahead.

In chess, you need an overall game strategy, and then several small strategies that deliver smaller goals that move your game forward. And each move should be an intentional step towards delivering those goals and achieving that strategy.

Your digital strategy should support your overall Marketing, Brand and Corporate strategies. And it should be supported by tactics and programs that are goal oriented, specific, and intentional. Every time you create a program, publish a post, deploy an ad buy, or launch an initiative, you should ensure that you have asked yourself:

  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • How will we know if we achieved it?
  • How do we apply what we learned to future activities?

Use your pieces to support each other.

Throw your Queen out too early without the proper support, and you will likely have to retreat or risk losing her. You’ll have wasted a few moves, and revealed your strategy.

Before you dive into an Influencer campaign, make sure you have the right suite of pixels and analytics tools to measure engagement and attribution. Ensure it’s promoted and supported with the right media. And be ready to capitalize on the increased engagement by converting traffic into prospects, prospects into customers, and customers into champions.

Keep your eye on the board.

It’s tempting to focus on your masterful 6-move end-game mate, only to look up and see that your opponent just forked your King and Queen.

Ensure that you keep your eye on the digital board by utilizing the right analytics and listening tools – and then actually reviewing them. I like building dashboards for clients that pull together key analytics, competitive and industry stats, social sentiment, and even internal or 3rd party data. It’s a simple and elegant way to aggregate and prioritize information so you can assess your results, and pivot when necessary.

Make a Move!

There is no ‘passing’ in chess. And the clock keeps ticking as soon as your opponent makes their move.

And the same applies in your business. Your competitors won’t wait for you to catch your breath. So make sure you have your strategy established, your processes worked out, and your digital pieces in place, so that when you do make your move, it is with intention and conviction, and with your end-game in mind.

Topics: Strategy


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