Best digital strategy frameworks I use when designing solutions

Best digital strategy frameworks I use when designing solutions

PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Planning Framework

SOSTAC® comes from:

  • Situation analysis — defines the status quo and where the client is in the moment in time, market, competition, etc.
  • Objectives — defining where the client wants to be.
  • Strategy — the strategy step has to answer the HOW question. How do we achieve those objectives?
  • Tactics — describing exactly how we’re going to achieve our objectives.
  • Actions — clear steps and things that we will do, in order to get where we want to go
  • Control — how we measure our success

If you want an analogy, you can think about this: We are on one side of a river and the client wants to get to the other side.

First we asses the situation. How deep the water is, how fast the water flows, how wide the river is and what kind of resources and soil we have. Then we set our objectives. We want to get there in a defined time frame, with this budget, using this kind of materials and the solution must work for this number of people and amount of materials.

After having these two steps in mind, we design the strategy. We choose if we’re going to build a bridge (if yes, what kind of bridge), if we’re going to use a temporary solution, like a inflatable bridge, a boat bridge or if we start building a specific type of boat that could possibly help us further navigate the river after crossing it.

Next on the list is choosing the tactics. That means that we already have a strategy (we have already chosen the solution) — let’s say we will build a temporary wooden bridge. Now we have to define the tactics: where we put the entrance, how wide we make it, what kind of pillars we will use, etc. And for the actions phase we will start describing every step we have to take, like: we will use that much wood, this type of wood and we will get it from here, we will keep the wooden parts together with rope and so on and so forth.

Finally, before even starting to build the wooden bridge, we have to be able to know how we will be successful in our project. Because if we build a wooden bridge that will be completed in 12 months and will cost more than a concrete bridge, then yes, we got to the other part of the river, but the costs were not sustainable for the business.

Business Model Canvas

I’ve heard a lot of opinions regarding this tool. Personally I think is one of the best digital strategy frameworks and I love it for its simplicity, but for the exact same reason I don’t want to use it exclusively. It shows you the relationship between value proposition — customer segment — partners and budget (revenue streams and cost base) through customer relationships, channels, activity and resources.

It is a simple way to have a one page overview of the business. But please do not take it lightly. As simple as it looks, it is not that easy to get it right.

DE Toolbox

As they describe it on their website:

The Disciplined Entrepreneurship Toolbox is a set of tools and checklists that will help you build a healthy and successful startup.

I first recommend you to read the book.

DE Toolbox has a paid version which is fantastic, but for starters the free version will do.

Quickly going through the steps described in the book and then developed into the online tool at Market segmentation, choose your beachhead market, define end user profile, calculate TAM for beachhead market, define customer persona (a step that I totally love as opposed to using customer target), create life-cycle use case, and so on and so forth, until testing key assumptions, defining the minimum viable business product, showing that dogs will eat the dog food and developing the product plan.


This one comes from:

Reach — refers to the exploration phase of the purchase funnel of an user

Act — the moment when the user makes a decision

Convert — the moment when the user becomes a client and actually buys your product

Engage — when you do as much as possible to transform your clients in micro-brand ambassadors.

This planning system is one of the best digital strategy frameworks for marketing and communication campaigns. And it is particularly effective for eCommerce marketing activities, but I’ve seen it work for services or events.

Google Micro-moments

The Google Micro-moments describe “an intent-rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need” and it goes as follows:

“I want to know”: exploring, researching or learning. There is an intent, but the user is not necessarily in the buy mode

“I want to do”: when the person is looking for a physical location to go buy, somewhere nearby him.

“I want to go”: when the person has a very specific need and he wants and need help.

“I want to buy”: when the person is in the buy mode and he wants to purchase. He wants help to decide what is the best buy, how to buy or where to buy at the best price/value ratio.

McKinsey’s strategic horizons

This is one of the digital strategy frameworks that keeps your client focused on growing healthy. If your client wants to grow fast regardless the risks, maybe this one is not for him.

The 3 horizons are:

  • Core business — The activities you and your client have to do today and are directly related to the current business and business situation. The revenue that will make the business exist, grow and innovate will come from the activities done in this horizon.
  • Emerging opportunities — this one is about taking what your clients already have (as defined and already in place in the first horizon, the core business) and extend it in new areas of revenue. This has an initial cost low to mid, but the forecasted return is fairly fast and safe.
  • Blue sky — this horizon refers to R&D activities, taking the business to a new business direction, unproven yet, in a high-risk-high-reward direction.

You can think of these 3 horizons as (thanks to one of the best communication strategists I know, who gave me this comparison, Alina Buzatu) a TV series where you have dedicated writers working on the subject of the whole story (the whole series), then you have writers and scripts for the season and then there are the writers that develop each individual episode. Pretty much the same applies here.

The Honeycomb

Although already a veteran, The Social Media Honeycomb still is a very powerful tool and it goes like this:

  • Identity
  • Presence
  • Relationship
  • Reputation
  • Groups
  • Conversation
  • Sharing

I use a slightly modified version, where Identity is replaced by micro-clusters by habits, behaviour, needs, micro-moments, expectations etc. and I build everything around the micro-clusters, not around individuals.

This one is especially good for mass products, with different approaches around the client and purchase decision.

There are a lot of other frameworks, methods, systems and approaches. These are the frameworks that I most often use and I’ve already seen that they work. They are effective and efficient.

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