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23rd January 2017 Rebecca Moore

Small Steps Lead to Big Changes #DMA

Katie Moffat, head of digital, The Audience Agency and Digital Marketing Academy Mentor, talks change. 

In the digital world there is always a buzzword or phrase of the moment and currently it’s, ‘Digital Transformation’.

Digital Transformation is about adapting the culture and operating systems of an organisation to work more effectively with new technology.  Often Digital Transformation requires significant changes to the mindset and skillset of all staff, including senior management and the board.  It’s about much more than what tools and tactics you employ. Digital Transformation has a useful and valid role to play in helping organisations adapt to, and thrive within, our digital era, but let’s not forget that there can also be huge value in small but significant changes.

When Sir Dave Brailsford became the performance director of British Cycling he started by breaking down all the elements of a successful performance into smaller parts. He believed that if it was possible to make a 1% improvement in each area the overall gain would lead to a significant positive difference (and ultimately success). This approach is known as ‘marginal gains’, and thanks to Brailsford it’s now much more widely recognised. History tells us that his approach resulted in huge successes for the British GB cycling team, transforming a sport that had been languishing in the doldrums.

But the effectiveness of the marginal gains approach is one that can thrive outside of sports. For example, Google and Facebook are constantly undertaking small scale data and platform experiments in order to discover areas where tweaks can be made, changes which collectively add up to great impact.

I’d argue it’s a way of thinking that arts and culture organisations should adopt more often, and it’s frequently a feature of a Digital Marketing Academy experiment.  For example, a theatre looking at whether sending out a follow up email to a booker the day they attend makes them more likely to book for another event than if the email is sent out a day later. Or whether prompting people to sign up to an email newsletter in person is more successful for certain audiences that an online prompt.

Large, transformational strategies are sometimes important and necessary to ensure momentum but let’s not forget that the marginal gains approach can be incredibly effective.

Header Image courtesy of Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra © Richard Jupe

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