August 21, 2013 ↘︎

The Emperor is still being sold the latest season’s threads.

Tim and I met with a potential new client last week. They’re looking to diversify their existing business model and asked us to help them re-visit their digital footprint in the knowledge their digital offering isn’t ready to reflect the change.

We love getting asked to talk with people about these kinds of jobs. It’s our opportunity to show people what digital balance is really about. We get to drive the project from the outset so we can therefore make it as meaningful and effective as possible. Our approach for this type of project is to strip it back to basics; see what’s happening right now (were you expecting that?) and understand the purpose (is what you expected what you wanted?) before we diagnose the solution.Taking people along the learning journey with us is part of the golden thread of digital transformation for a company. 

The session went well, we had lots of nods from around the room and smiles (I’m a sucker for a positive audience) and then the killer question came; “So what do we get at the end of this?” immediately followed up with; “We’ve been sold so many magic solutions in the past and frankly none of them have worked, so why should this?” And that’s when it struck me.

We live in a digital fairy tale.

Our industry is a little bit like Hans Christian Andersen’s: The Emperor’s New Clothes. Still. 

“Many years ago there was an Emperor so exceedingly fond of new clothes that he spent all his money on being well dressed. He cared nothing about reviewing his soldiers, going to the theatre, or going for a ride in his carriage, except to show off his new clothes.”

We still have swindlers out there promising to make the performance of your Google Adwords go through the roof, telling you that their new App really will suddenly drive you the levels of engagement you have only ever dreamed of. And don’t even get me started on the Facebook thing.  

The problem is when faced with the swindlers some clients still feel a little like the Emperor. They’ve been dazzled by the product pitch and don’t want to appear stupid by asking the obvious question.


Without knowing what your digital reason for being is, or how that meets your wider business goals, how can someone promise to make something better for you? Would you go to your doctor and expect them to tell you exactly what you needed to make you feel better without understanding why you’re feeling like you do?

That’s the thing with having a responsible approach to digital planning. There is a whole heap of stuff we want to know about you before we’ll diagnose the problem and recommend the best ways forward. We can’t possibly know that from our first conversation with you, we need a little time to establish a relationship, getting to know you and your customers better. Sometimes clients immediately see the logic in this approach and want to be a part of that journey, other times they struggle and just want a new coat to wear.

It’s not about magic.

How did we respond to the question? We’re not a magic solution for a company. We won’t make your website magically perform better overnight but what we do give you is the evidence you need to clearly see how and why your digital presence can be so valuable to your business and how to make the most of that presence.

That way, when the swindlers come back into town you can be the child in the crowd and point out the obvious.

The content and advice contained in this post may be out of date. Last updated on August 21, 2013.
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