In the media world there’s an ongoing debate. That debate is which should come first, strategy or creative? It comes down to what’s more important. Although content is king, the vibe is shifting towards strategy first. Antony Young gives us six reasons why strategy should come before creative. The first is that advertising’s a numbers game http://bit.ly/HORihk. He states that one of the biggest factors for failure is not matching the right budget with the right goals or even having the right plan. His point? Figuring out elements like budget and channel distribution are key first steps in any campaign. Another reason why strategy should come first is that smartly placed, relative ideas are the new big idea. Young’s point is that today, customized messages in different media at the right time, location and environment spark the engagement. A universal message is a thing of the past. Speaking of the message, Young also believes that the right media determines the right message. As for the message, content is king but content can and should take on many forms. His idea is that the media plan comes first so that the right mix of content can be determined and developed. Adaptive marketing is another reason Young thinks strategy should come first. Adaptive marketing is defined as adapting and personalizing campaigns in real-time by responding to audience data collected from web behavior and social graphs. As TV is becoming more social, Young also notes the trend towards TV becoming more interactive and brands using social media to engage their real-time audience.
A real-life example of why strategy should come first is the success of Columbia Sportswear’s “Great Moments In Trying Stuff” videos. Larry Dobrow notes the genius of their campaign in building upon a past concept and hitting the right balance of humor, while showing off what their products can do http://bit.ly/J8ipnK. Past ads involved Ma Boyle testing their coats in comical, extreme weather conditions. Current ads apply this concept to other products and scenarios. One of which involves draining a five-bean salad in a Columbia shoe. The strategy obviously came first, because their viral videos actually promote their products rather than bury them under special effects and humor. In order to be successful you have to know your audience, know where they are, and know how to reach them. It’s obvious that Columbia knows all of these things and developed a media plan and strategy that receive the right kind of response. Bottom line, the creative speaks because the strategy does.
Ok, so we know that strategy is important to determining creative and that it’s often tied to real-time events, especially in the case of social media, which is a strategy in itself. With that said, John Squire points out that April is the time when plans for the days and weeks leading up to and including Black Friday, and continuing on through Cyber Monday, should be developed http://bit.ly/HRnoJX. Why? Well, just this last year more stores emerged with midnight deals, moving the event up by a day. Every year it seems as though the holiday push comes earlier and earlier, and last year’s move makes an early game plan even more essential. Squire points to QR codes, social media and mobile as key focal points for strategy this year. QR code use is growing as more mobile shoppers catch on to its presence and use. Social media is important as social shopping is on the uptick, as are social channels. Evaluating your social channels, your social media and how to reach your audience with QR codes could be the key to unlocking big sales gains this holiday season. It’s similar to selling a car in that you assess its impact on the audience and how that can be improved before you start sprucing up the car. In advertising, strategy gets the ball rolling and delivers the right creative and the best scenario for your clients. That old joke about which came first, the chicken or the egg? That applies right here and now, and the answer is strategy.