A fast-track audit of your digital assets
Strategy does not mean far-fetched
For many, working on one’s strategy is a long term and high level theoretical exercise and at the end of the spectrum, someone will have to work for real. Even though strategy and field work are often opposed in an effort to over simplify and make things easier to teach and learn, there is no such thing as theory without practice and vice versa. Ivory tower strategies produce no results and field experience has shown us, time and time again, that all good strategies are sustained by feedback from the field. Conversely field work is more effective when a clear strategy has been devised and shared.
Incidentally, this is exactly what we are implementing with Grenoble EM Management School (as part of our international programme entitled 'Advanced Masters in Digital Business Strategy’) where we have enforced the GLM process (GEM Learning model, an innovative learning method invented by Grenoble EM with a mix of traditional and flipped teaching approaches).
On one hand, doing business with no strategy makes no sense and may even be counter productive. On the other hand, no digital asset is kept separate from your strategy (check our definition of digital assets further in this document). Yet we often see Websites (and/or ancillary digital assets such as social media pages) developed only for communications purposes. They are adorned with nice graphics and pompous words and slogans and no clear vision that these digital assets are like online international shop windows for your brand. Digital is, undoubtedly, an important asset for your business, its presence on search engines, a critical element of your customer experience and your customer journey.
Depending on how it is developed and nurtured, such an experience may or may not be frictionless and convincing, may or may not be sufficient to generate leads and bring prospective customers to your business, and/or point your visitors to your points of sales (or call centres). And so on and so forth. At this stage, let’s point out that all situations are different. It all hinges on your vertical and customer segments and profiles. In other words, to paraphrase Regis McKenna, the inventor of the high-tech marketing category: "digital is everything, everything is digital".
Your digital assets therefore reflect your values, your philosophy, your business approach and the stark reality of your positioning. The Man-from-Mars report is exactly about that: evaluating the value of these digital assets with a fresh eye (or maybe a fresh antenna, as it were).
Digital assets: tentative definition
Your website is not the only asset which reflects your business and its positioning with regard to its market, customers and competition. It is one of the fundamental elements of these digital assets but it is not, by far, the only one. More than just an audit of your website, what we propose is to look at the entirety of your online assets: your sites, blogs, applications if they exist, cross-device compatibility, e-commerce sites, marketplaces, blogs and other sites and content platforms as well as social media and, last but not least, how all of these elements are working together, or not.
It is crucial that we look at these different components and how they work together and reinforce each other, or the other way round.
Your digital assets are the fabric made of the entirety of these digital elements that we have described (as shown in the above simplified diagram). Eventually, the Man-from-Mars report will highlight how your business compares to competition.
Why A Man From Mars?
Why did we call this methodology Man-from-Mars report? Martians look at your assets from the outside, without preconceived ideas, and provide a clinical report on what they saw. The expression "Man- from-Mars report" hasn’t come from nowhere. We derived it from Vincent Flanders’s work. Flanders is the author of the famous Webpagesthatsuck Website, a pillar of the Web since the very beginning of the Internet. Flanders worked for years on end analysing bad Websites and deriving lessons for "good design from bag design". His checklists were as hilarious as they were ruthless. He is also the author of the eponymous book.
One of Flanders’s principles was that "a man from Mars" should be able to understand your Website in just a few seconds. The underlying principle was that, for a Website to be a good Website, a visitor who knew absolutely nothing about you nor your history should be able to understand and decode immediately your content just by looking at it. We have used the same vocabulary for this fast-track audit methodology. Looking from the outside, without prejudices, in a benevolent manner. Our "Man- from-Mars" reports are eventually presented during live feedback sessions with our clients in that way: "the Man from Mars saw…, The Man from Mars thought…"
Man from Mars report, from content strategy to digital strategy
In the past few years, we have produced quite a few Man-from-Mars reports for various verticals ranging from high-tech to the telecoms or health sectors. Our Man-from-Mars reports are either carried out to optimise your current digital assets or as a means to rethink your overall digital strategy (business units and digitisation, customer journeys, on the channel digital strategy et cetera). Whether we looked at content strategy or your overall digital strategy, looking at your digital assets will be tale-telling when it comes to understand your positioning.