Running a marketing team without a creative strategy is like attempting to drive somewhere without knowing where you need to go, how long it will take, or what direction you’re even heading in. Sure, you might have an interesting journey, but you’ll likely waste a lot of time and gas with no guarantee of ever arriving at the right destination.
Developing an effective creative strategy gives you the clarity and know-how to ensure each team member understands their role, resources are used wisely, assets are created with intention, and the outcomes you achieve fulfill your marketing goals.
While it may seem like you don’t have enough time to write out a detailed plan, having the structure and guidance of a creative strategy will actually enable faster and more effective work. In this post, we’ll cover the ins and outs of a creative strategy, how you can create one from scratch, and what we do at monday.com.
What is a creative strategy?
Your creative strategy is the map that will lead you to your destination in the example above. It tells you where you are and where you need to go. It gives you information about the terrain and how to prepare, and it lets you calculate the distance so you know how much gas you will need.
With your creative strategy, you will create a tactical plan to achieve your company’s business and marketing goals. Your plan will outline each aspect of what you’ll need to do, from the messaging you’ll write to the channels you’ll use to the budget you’ll need. It defines who your target audience is, how to reach them, what to say, and when.
By developing a thoughtful creative strategy, you can ensure your team achieves what they’ve set out to do, and isn’t just wasting gas.
Developing a creative strategy in marketing: achieving success
Marketing teams usually don’t have time or budget to waste. Achieving success means being smart about what you do and how you do it. To develop an effective creative strategy, keep the following three tips in mind:
- Make it goal-oriented and focused. Your creative strategy should answer the why, what, and how you will achieve a certain goal. Understanding what that goal is and ensuring each component of the strategy supports it is integral to staying on track.
- Pay attention to time. Most likely, you will have a limited amount of time to achieve your goal. By including a timeline in your strategy, you can help each team member stay on track and avoid any last-minute problems.
- Share it with all relevant stakeholders. Achieving your marketing goal requires a high level of collaboration, which means each stakeholder must see and understand the creative strategy.
Remember, your creative strategy is your map or blueprint. It serves as a guide, but it shouldn’t dictate every minor step of the way. Detail is helpful, but don’t get carried away. When creating your creative strategy, make sure there’s wiggle room so your team can adapt to unexpected challenges that may arise.
6 must-haves in your creative strategy
Now that you have a solid idea of what your creative strategy will help you achieve, let’s dive into what it should include, and how to execute it.
1. Clearly define your goals
Understanding what you are trying to achieve is fundamental to writing an effective strategy, getting all of the relevant stakeholders on board, and achieving the desired results. For example, if your goal is to increase online engagement with customers, your strategy will look very different than if your goal is to boost lead generation by 20%.
Before diving into action, take some time to write down what your main goals are. This will inform all of the subsequent steps you’ll take, including how much budget you will need, which resources you will allocate it to, what you will say, and how you will say it. Once you’ve solidified your objectives, share this information with everyone who will be involved in bringing it to life. Complete team comprehension is crucial to effective collaboration and alignment.
2. Write a creative strategy statement
A creative strategy statement describes the purpose of your initiative or campaign. It’s usually one or two sentences long and includes the value proposition of your services, as well as which audiences you will target. The statement should answer the question, “How can we get customers to buy our products or services over those of a competitor?”
3. Choose your KPIs
It’s impossible to gauge success or failure without having metrics to assess your initiatives, which makes choosing the right key performance indicators an important step in developing your creative strategy.
Again, your KPIs, will depend on what your goals are. After you’ve defined what you are trying to achieve, think about what you will need to know along the way to determine if you are succeeding. For example, if your goal is to increase online engagement with your customers, some of your KPIs might be how many impressions your social media posts get, how many likes/comments, and how many mentions you receive in customers’ posts.
You will also need to determine how to measure each of these. Do you want to reach a certain number of impressions by the time the quarter ends, or do you want to increase the number of impressions each week by a certain percentage? When creating your KPIs, you will need to consider both what to measure, and how.
4. Decide on your messaging and marketing channels
Once you know what you’re trying to achieve and how you will measure progress, you are ready to start creating the deliverables that your customers will see, whether that’s a digital ad campaign, a commercial, an eBook, billboard, a combination of these, or something else.
In this step, you need to decide what you are going to say, how you want to say it, how you will position it within the greater context of your brand, what it will look like, and where it will appear (i.e. what channels you will use). The length, tone, and style of your messaging should be consistent with your overall goal, and make sense for the target audience.
5. Set a budget
Creating an accurate budget is an integral part of your creative strategy. Your budget pays for the gas that powers your car — it’s what lets you produce all of the work that will enable you to achieve your marketing goal.
To set an accurate budget, you must first understand the true scope of your initiative, including:
- What kinds of deliverables you will produce
- How much you will rely on paid marketing vs. organic marketing
- The cost of paid services (including running online ads, paying vendors, and possibly buying new software)
- How long you will need to pay for all of these things
6. Create a timeline
Creating a timeline is essential to your creative strategy, not only because it helps you build a realistic budget, but because it also enables all relevant stakeholders to stay on the same page. When each contributing team member understands what is due from them and when, you can make sure the project moves forward smoothly, and swiftly handle any obstacles that arise.
Creative strategy example: monday.com
We know turning conceptual tips into action can be difficult. To help, here’s a look into our own creative strategy at monday.com.
Goal: Our main goal is to distinguish monday.com as the premier platform for managing workflows, projects, and teams of any size with ease. We want to show prospects and current users that monday.com eliminates the need to chase co-collaborators for updates on projects, prevents duplicative efforts, and ensures work never falls through the cracks.
Creative strategy statement: “We aim to distinguish monday.com as the choice platform for managing workflows, projects, and teams of any size with ease. Our campaigns demonstrate how flexible, intuitive, and visual the platform is, making it easy to use and elevating teamwork to the next level. Our target audience is managers who lead teams of 10+, but we also pay attention to individual employees, who can use our free trial and then recommend the platform to their manager.”
KPIs: We’re focused on two primary KPIs:
- Brand uplift: We conduct localized surveys and measure website visits to understand how interest in our brand is growing over time.
- Virality: We measure engagement on social media, such as how many people share, like, and comment on our ads.
Messaging and marketing channels: Our messaging changes to fit each of our campaigns, but we always speak to our users’ individual pains in clear and simple language. The tone is cheeky, casual, and light. In addition to online digital marketing channels, we run campaigns on billboards, metro ads, radio stations, and online streaming platforms, such as podcasts.
Timeline and budget: These elements of our creative strategy depend on the specific campaign we are working on.
Bring your creative strategy to life
By focusing on the key components we’ve outlined above, you can create a useful creative strategy that helps ensure you are spending your team’s budget, time, and energy wisely. You will have a thoughtful plan to achieve your goals, and the infrastructure to bring them to life.
This article was originally posted on https://monday.com/blog/marketing/creative-strategy/