What is strategy?
What makes something strategic is that it favours the achievement of an intentional goal.
Many of our decisions are driven by what behavioural brain scientists call ‘automatic goals’ like instant gratification and the avoidance of fear. Our business decisions are no exception. In business, fear-based motivation might look like perfectionism; aiming for instant gratification might mean taking shortcuts. When we go on autopilot with our business decisions, we’re playing – but we’re not playing to win.
This is where strategy comes in. When we move our motivation from autopilot to agentic, our decisions become strategic. Former Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy says strategy is about getting to “the heart of what’s important: how to make choices in order to control events, rather than allowing events to control your choices.”
“Strategy is not complex. But it is hard. It’s hard because it forces people and organisations to make specific choices about their future – something that doesn’t happen in most companies.” Here’s the good thing about hard things: if they’re hard enough that few people want to think about them, then you’re instantly at an advantage if you do. Now you’re playing to win.
So what does a creative strategist do?
Creative strategists take businesses out of autopilot and into turbo mode, by making the decision-drivers intentional – helping businesses define their goals and priorities to ensure their marketing efforts are purpose-driven.
“A creative strategist is a bridge connecting the creative and the business objectives. The creative strategist’s role is to research and understand the purpose of the brand, its opponents, discover insights into the audience, use the knowledge to design compelling campaign concepts and ultimately pitch the concept successfully.” (Chicago-based creative strategist Viktor Ilijev)
Once your goals are crystal clear, a creative strategist can help you:
- Identify your unique selling proposition
- Find and understand your audience
- Analyse the market and identify future trends
- Streamline your work through better processes and budgets
- Measure your success
- Research the best methods to communicate your work
- Pitch your work for success
- Execute, test and reiterate
An excellent creative strategist is skilled in analysis, communication and creative problem-solving. They should also have good financial knowledge as well as strategic intuition (more on this soon). They should be experienced in producing and editing copy, including writing in various voices and styles for different target audiences.
Why do you need a creative strategist in your business?
- You’ve tried defining and setting goals and priorities in your business but have struggled to see any material change.
- You feel like you have been so focused on your business that you don’t know what the rest of your industry is doing.
- You want to harness the disruptive force of global and local upheavals happening right now to give your business a tangbile advantage.
- You are willing to creatively explore non-traditional solutions to traditional problems.
- You haven’t got a clear picture of who your audience is, or a well-defined persona to help shape your marketing.
- You want your marketing systems to be more efficient and effective overall.
- You need help writing about your work for your different audiences.
- You have lots of ideas and stories about your work which you would love to share, but don’t have a content production process for.
- You need experienced support with pitching a project or an idea for funding.
A creative strategist’s job is to help you elicit what you want out of your business, determine the strongest ways to achieve it based on research and data, then use their analysis and copywriting to get you going. Along the way you’ll discover a super energising sense of purpose, feel heard like you haven’t before, and understand the truly vital role you play in your industry.
When most of our decisions have unintentional drivers, the results in our business are unpredictable. If you’re lucky, you’ll keep up with the competition. But the world is changing fast, and there are more players in your space than there were before.
Creative strategists help businesses conquer these challenges by combining:
- The creative and imaginative intuition of a marketer
- The logical reasoning of an analyst
Bringing a creative strategist onboard is about taking that into your own hands: getting curious and intentional, creating meaning, building a fulfilling connection with your audience and thriving in your industry.