Digital Stagnation – 7 Lessons To Prevent It Happening To You

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Two weeks ago I was writing a post summarising my time at Web Summit 2014 in Dublin. Of the 30+ quotes I tweeted during the 3 day conference, some that particularly stuck with me came from Cillian Kieran, CEO of CKSK. Cillian had a 15 minute speaker slot during the conferences Marketing Summit. During this talk he referenced a list of “7 Aphorisms for Digital Transformation” which I wanted to share with you, along with my own take on each.

#1 Never Fear Failure

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Image By Nima Badiey

Be willing to break with your industries best practice and be willing to fail, because not all strategies have to succeed to be beneficial.  Digital marketing is all about testing, experimenting and trialling concepts. With these comes the risk for potential failure. If you don’t risk you don’t differentiate, you stagnate. I thought I would share this great quote from Paypal founder Max Levchin which echoes the point:



#2 Assume Nothing

Not only does “Assume make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’ ” it also leaves a lot of unanswered questions, that answers to which could help you greatly improve your digital results. With The Internet of Things, wearable tech, browser cookies and Analytics programs in copious supply there is no excuse to simply assume in 2014. There are millions of clever methods and resources to gain demographic, user, audience and influencer’s data. Make the most of them to question all that is around you as a business and gain those few competitive advantages.

#3 Forget About Consumers

Today’s digital media teams often let their judgement and decisions be clouded by this idea that their target audience can be summed up by a demographic or profile. The reality is that “consumers” are becoming more and more individual in their purchase habits, personalities and lifestyles. When carrying out planning campaigns, buying media or creating digital strategy try to remember consumers are real people, like you or me. Remember the Consumer is a person. Talk to them like one.

#4 Solve A Problem

With “Content Marketing”, “Influencer Outreach” and “Online PR” currently on the lips of every business, the web is quickly filling up with useless content. Adding to this should not be on your agenda. The reality is that to really make an impact in your digital market you need to solve a problem for your audience. Engineering useful things should be on the agenda of every digital media/marketing team in 2014 and onwards.

#5 User Experience Is Like Fairy Dust


User Experience is not a term that should be solely reserved for website development. Understanding how users interact should be something that comes into everything a business does from created content to outreach. You should be constantly asking yourself “how does offering/building/doing X affect the user’s experience?”. The end goal is to be making decisions that have a positive influence on the end user’s experience. Sprinkle a bit of UX dust on everything you do.

#6 Test and Learn, Fast

Image By Kenny Louie

This ties in nicely to the User Experience point above. The beauty of digital is the testing you can go through to get something right. With offline campaigns there is an element of “hope for the best”. In digital marketing and media you can make adjustments in real time as the data comes in. Make the most of this and be sure to act fast in the event something isn’t going to plan. Don’t wait till your end of month or campaign report to see that minor changes could have got you hitting KPI’s. Instead set up an environment in your organisation where testing is engrained into your processes.

#7 Take (Small) Smart Risks

There are an overwhelming amount of advertising, online PR and marketing opportunities on offer to today’s brands. You can’t possibly try and test all of the mediums out there. So why not take 10% of your marketing budget and use it for agile experimentation. Take educated risk on platforms your competitors aren’t necessarily trying. Or invest it into a new tool or avenue you haven’t tried before. Only then can you cross it off the list as something to continue with or drop.

In Summary:

Get off your complacent arse and throw caution to the wind to create opportunities that lead to wins (or something like that). I know there is a lot of overlapping in the above lessons but I hope they have given you some food for thought. I will leave you with one of my favourite Old English proverbs:


If you have any other key lessons you want to share please add them in the comments section below.

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On November 21, 2014