One of the biggest challenges among strategists in the new digital environment is knowing how to remain relevant and nimble. KWP! Director of Digital and Technology Grant Baker says that, in order to stay ahead, strategists must learn to shift from ‘specialist’ to ‘generalist’ in this Comms Council exclusive. 

TCC: What are some of the challenges facing digital strategists today?
With the ever increasing rate of rapid change we see, it is becoming more challenging to stay up-to-date and relevant. Gone are the days of the specialists.

We are seeing the rise of the hybrid strategist who requires a broader and broader knowledge. This is best exemplified when one considers the lifespan of new technology can be down to three years.

This means the digital strategist is required to continually refresh their skills set and knowledge, learn to be agile and understand how to prioritise.

If as strategists we are challenged, our clients now need more guidance than ever and the brief is evolving to business need rather than the traditional marketing need.

TCC: Has strategy changed in this new digital environment?
The basic tenants of marketing have not changed. It is about being relevant and creating an engaging dialogue with the consumer. What has changed is the ability to identify the correct consumer, and decide on what is the best content and delivery channel is for the individual consumer.

Consumers no longer buy product and services. They are not about omnichannel, rather, the total consistent experience that the advertiser provides.

Working out this mix through multiple channels and creating consistency of experience is the primary impact that technology is having in communication. Add to that the types of content that are needed for specific channels is evolving so quickly, creative agencies are having to adapt the campaign brief and requirements on the fly. It is no longer a 30 second TVC, but social content, pre-role, display, re-marketing and push notification content. It is no longer simply re-editing the same thing. Account managers, creative, social and media planers are adapting on the fly.

TCC: What can SA students expect from you and the course?
The tools to prepare yourself to become a hybrid digital strategist and practical steps on how to achieve this. This is not simply the theory, but how to apply that theory in everyday situations. How to learn new skills, how to think in an agile way and how to adapt your culture to make it happen.

TCC: You have successfully launched and managed two international companies in the advertising and digital technology space – can you tell us a bit more about these?
Both companies grew out of market need. Today, digital asset management is more common but when Volvo approached us in 2007 to digitise their dealer platform it was unheard of. Tree Organic Technology was spun out of the agency and allows for dealer and franchisees to create and adapt any form of marketing material and dispatch it to a printer or publication.

At Plutus we have created a completely integrated platform that allows clients to segment, target and engage with their audience without having to deal with multiple platforms, products or people. One point of access that allows you to see and manage all your consumer touch points on one dashboard based against transactional, geospatial, demographic and behavioural data resulting in a 10 per cent lift in turnover.

TCC: What is your least favourite industry buzzword, and why?
Omnichannel. I have never seen an omnichannel customer. They expect brands to be consistent in all channels and deliver an amazing consistent experience.

TCC: What are employers looking for in junior digital strategists?
Be proactive, look for solutions, keep experimenting and learning. The days of the reactive strategist are over.