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Devise your creative strategy in 3 easy steps

by | Jul 19, 2022

Creative strategy underpins the best work – but it sometimes eludes even seasoned creatives. Now Go Create to the rescue!

“Strategy is not the consequence of planning, but the opposite: its starting point.” Henry Mintzberg

Ah, our old friend creative strategy. The word ‘strategy’ definitely has the power to intimidate and confuse. In fact, thinking strategically is a skill that is often left to chance – with people rising through the ranks and expected to know how to do it by osmosis.

Whilst it’s tempting to dive straight into generating solutions for creative problems, they won’t stack up without rigorous interrogation of the problem first.

I’ve been reading, learning and sharing what I know about devising strategy for over a decade now on our How To Develop Strategy Courses at Now Go Create, alongside Anahita, Former Head of Strategy at Manning Gotleib OMD.
It’s one of those topics that the more you learn the less you feel you know! But we do have some resources that we love and we’re sharing some of them here:

Creative strategy resource #1: Who. What. How. Brand Strategy by Mark Ritson

Marketing professor and columnist Mark Ritson writes regularly on this topic and we love his article on brand planning and writing a marketing plan. The article Three axioms and three questions that summarise all of brand strategy is in summary here.

“Brand strategy is not complicated, it’s just the systematic application of the basics all marketers are taught. Here’s a simple way to be sure you’re taking the right steps – in the right order.”

1. Diagnosis first, strategy second
2. Decide what not to do
3. Strategy before tactics

1. Who are we targeting?

Audience segmentation – who is the possible audience/universe?

Who are you targeting?

By looking at the market, the competitors and our own resources, we must decide where we will play. And where we will not.

2. What do you stand for?

What do you want them to think/feel/do when they think of you? Or ‘position’.

Position is simply what we want them to think when they think of our brand. A brand needs the consumer to know that it exists and to think two or three things about it.

Those two or three things are what we need the brand position to be. Write them down.

3. Then identify the four or five stages that take a consumer from ignorance to repeat purchase and advocacy of your brand (or whatever it is you want them to do).

Your strategy = articulation of the question ‘how will we achieve this?’

Your strategy is based on analysis of everything you have: the information, data, evidence, observations etc. And there are all sorts of different ways you can gather what you need.

Resource #2: Customer centricity – HBR article 

The new source of competitive advantage is customer centricity. That means deeply understanding your customers’ needs and fulfilling them better than anyone else.

To accomplish this, you need data. Yet having troves of data is of little value in and of itself. What increasingly separates the winners from the losers is the ability to transform data into insights about consumers’ motivations and to turn those insights into strategy.

This alchemy requires innovative organisational capabilities that, collectively, we call the “insights engine.”

We love this article about this topic – Building An Insights Engine – How Unilever Got To Know Its Customers from Harvard Business Review

Resource #3: High quality ignorance 

We absolutely love this TED talk by neuroscientist Stuart Firestein on ‘not knowing’ and searching for the answer which he introduces like this:

There is an ancient proverb that says it’s very difficult to find a black cat in a dark room, especially when there is no cat.

I find this a particularly apt description of science and how science works – bumbling around in a dark room, bumping into things, trying to figure out what shape this might be, what that might be, there are reports of a cat somewhere around, they may not be reliable, they may be, and so forth and so on.”

If you’re interested in developing your creative strategy chops join us for our next online webinar on 29th November. Email claire@nowgocreate.co.uk to book. Cost is £99pp + VAT and includes 5 follow up strategy nudges.

Image Credit: Pixabay stevepb

Ready to dive in and become a Strategy Ninja? Learn how to unravel a brief, tackle the blank page and develop a robust argument here.