, by  Tom Simnett

The importance of the business case on digital projects

The importance of a business case

We're back with another article highlighting an important aspect of any digital project. This time, it is one that should happen before any work is actually undertaken on the project itself.

A business case is fairly straight forward. It is the primary business motivation behind performing some task or developing some project past an idea phase. In fact, usually the business case is developed before a project is identified to enable that business case to be realised.

So what does a business case look like? It can be a one-liner; "we want to sell Y volume of product X in Z timeframe". It could also be a bigger document describing some specific business function that needs to happen, but it won't ever go into specific detail as to how the business case is to be achieved. For most businesses looking to use digital means of marketing, it'll be things like brand awareness increase, increased Facebook reach, sales volume, and anything else that can be measured in some way. The business case will usually also include information regarding the demographic to be targeted.

We're often given projects to build this or that on Facebook, or some other platform, and we're rarely given the business case for the project. We're usually quite happy to build them, but when presented a business case we can usually offer best practice advice as to what does and doesn't work in particular areas, and how best to reach a specific target audience, which in turn will help to shape the overall project.

We've recently been engaged by an agency to tackle an age-old problem. A brand wants to enter the deep, dark world of social media, but doesn't know where to start. That doesn't particularly worry me, as most businesses new to a means of marketing are usually unaware of what kind of results could potentially be achieved. Typically though, they'll want to start growing their reach (the number of people who can hear, or see, their communication). That's a good a start as any, but why does it matter?

Well the original brief meant that this brand (we're under NDA, so I can't tell you which) would have instantly alienated half their target audience, so we had to find a way to deliver back some mechanism by which to engage the 50% or so that don't have an iOS device.

We boiled down the options, still wanting to keep the entry point as Facebook as an opening social media gambit, and settled on a competition whose details could be found on the brand's new Facebook page, along with an entry mechanism, but also allowed instant gratification and entry via mobile messaging. Send a picture to a shortcode number, and you're entered into the competition, subject to the rules, which are on Facebook. All aspects of the entry lead the user to either a Facebook or mobile page with share options so users are encouraged to share further to increase the chances they are involved in the prize pool.

Without the business case though, we would have been completely unable to advise as to why the initial option that was tabled wouldn't perform adequately, and would have ended up putting the end client off further social media work, despite their brand being able to take a huge advantage by using it well.

We always question the business case, and we work hard to ensure that what we deliver is more than just an app and stems from real business insight.