Why is a digital strategy needed?
In a perfect world, you would not need a digital strategy because it would already be a part of your business plan and your marketing delivery. However, it might be easier to start with this – “Achieving town centre objectives by applying digital technologies.”
As explained below, town centres can view digital technologies from several perspectives. There is the physical public realm aspect of digital (way-finding signage, traffic controls , information displays, public Wi-Fi etc), the marketing and communications aspects that include websites and social media, and finally the customer-driven aspect of digital that is centred round use of mobile devices in making social connections, at the various points-of-interaction in the town centre journey and ultimately at the all-important point-of-sale.
However, an old marketing sage probably captured it the best. To adapt the late great Peter Druckers’ definition of business, “to create and keep customers”, digital strategies should ultimately be described as “Applying digital technologies to create and keep customers”.
That is why we all need to consider how we use digital tools to make our town and city place offerings more relevant and appealing in a modern digital society. After all, e-commerce and out-of-town retail has a head start. It is time for us to catch up, but in our own way.
What ATCM is offering?
Very few place managers and their stakeholders will have the appetite or the means to create digital solutions from scratch. In most situations, it will be more practical to add off-the-shelf tools to your local tool kit. The Digital High Street programme aims to:
- Share knowledge and best practice
- Inform members about current and future opportunities
- Promote digital learning events
- Maintain a resource directory of free-to-use digital tools, case studies of successful digital applications and other applicable resources
- Offer a listing of solutions providers, experts and consultants
What role should a place manager play?
- Be informed; ATCM and its partners can help.
- Practice what you preach; optimise your website for mobile devices; manage your social media for 7 day a week outputs (retailers are busiest at weekends!)
- Having got the town centre’s digital applications woven into the overall business plan, be prepared to mentor your retailers in the same process, starting with ensuring some basic marketing planning.
- For more advanced partnerships and BIDs, ATCM is developing relationships with top level providers of digital marketing services, with measurable outputs on reach and conversion.
- Be prepared to engage early on with the local authority in representing the digital aspects of public realm and transport strategies.