Having had the opportunity to become a well rounded communications practitioner, it is really interesting to see how people use the word “strategic” when speaking about executional things. It’s almost as though the word “Strategy” or “Strategic” has become a buzz word and somewhere along the line, it does get confused with tactics and/or execution.
Press releases, websites, contests, a page in a magazine, a commercial, Facebook pages, Twitter pages – these are all the tactics. HOW you use them and your plan for that, should be tied into a bigger concept that is then linked into a specific objective. Confusion over the word “strategy” is prevalent in all communication/marketing disciplines and this truly impacts creative as well. Creative is encompassed into a large part of what we do and being creative also requires strategic thinking.
This post was inspired by my friend and colleague Lisa, (@lisawrites) when speaking about the creative process and creative strategy. Much like the communications process, the creative idea (images, layout, copy and design) has to link to some overarching theme that does inspire, engage or cause something to happen. Pretty or Twitter or a Website are not a strategy, but they are definitely tools that can be used to make something happen or reach an objective.
As common as this is, I do encourage communications and creative teams to think like this:
- What is your organizations overall objective?
- What is your organization’s overall goal/s for the year? How do you understand these goals linking into achieving their objective? (Not sure – then ask!)
- How is this campaign or idea going to help the organization achieve the above two things?
- What is the main objective for this campaign? How does it link to your organization’s objective?
- What are your goals for this campaign and how does that tie into your organizational goals for the year?
- Who are you trying to reach? Why do you need to reach them? (Creative teams need all the above information and absolutely need to be linked in at this point and moving forward)
- When do you reach out to them? What do you want them to do/say/think/believe?
- Where are they? How will you reach them? (Here are the tactics! See how far down the list it is? All the other stuff needs to happen first before we get here!)
- How will you know if what you want them to do is being done? – In other words – what are your metrics of success or KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators).
- What are your benchmarks? What will you do if your KPI’s are not performing the way you would like? What other areas of support will put into this? What is your plan B?
Once you have these in your pocket you can execute. By no means am I implying that this step by step process is linear at all! In most cases, it will be more matrix like with lots of back and forths and adjustments, all while being sensitive to deadlines and budgets. As a rule of thumb I try to follow the above. Now, more than ever in my career (especially because I work production focused advertiser initiatives a.k.a – the actual execution), I see how critical the above steps are. Not all campaigns will perform the way you hoped, but that also means there are key learnings that can be pulled from that to understand your organization and its objectives even better.