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Why strategy is the key to any comms activity

Posted on Mon 19th Mar, 2018 in: Advice, Planning by Laura Cavanagh

Often agencies and brands find it hard to define the strategy behind an activity they’re implementing. Arguably that’s because naturally the focus is placed on the area that’s going to require the creative thinking and resource, which is ultimately the plan and subsequent tactics.

Along the way somewhere the role of a strategy has got lost. Or it’s being packaged up as a plan, which only adds to the confusion.

Any comms plan being implemented should always be underpinned by a clear strategy. Otherwise what else is being used to inform the approach? Sticking a finger in the air and hoping for the best just isn’t going to cut it.

This was pretty apparent with Brewdog’s latest pink ‘beer for girls’ stunt. The craft brewer launched its pink beer to raise awareness about gender pay equality and sexist advertising. They wanted to show their support for International Women’s Day, but the execution left women feeling confused.

For some, the stunt has been labelled a failure as it ended up annoying a lot of people. But looking at Brewdog’s strategy this is exactly what they were aiming to do. They’re all about anti-boredom and being controversial, so this piece of marketing is right in line with their brand values. Their aim is to appeal to a wider audience, so although they’re irritating some people along the way, they’re ultimately getting the visibility they want.

One of the fundamental parts of a strategy is understanding who your target audience is, what they do and don’t like, what influences them and how they consume information. All of this is usually outlined in your strategy.

Strangely the difference between a strategy and plan is pretty straight forward, but given the tendency to blur the two, here’s how the two are defined:

  • Strategy = What are you doing and why?
  • Plan = How are you going to do it and when?

Before you can undergo any planning, you need to know what the strategy is. This usually includes:

-       Business objectives

-       Brand objectives

-       Stakeholders

-       Key messages

-       Issues and risks

-       Audience / audience insight

Naturally, once you’re clear on what the overarching aim is, you can then start to think about how you’re going to use this insight to reach your target audience. Your plan should include:

-       Strategy overview

-       Channels

-       Tactics

-       Timings

-       Resource

 

Tactics always need to be questioned to ensure you’re implementing activity that’s going to engage your audience. Ad giants, Unilever and Proctor and Gamble (P&G), aren’t afraid to question their tactics and where their marketing budget is being spent. A large part of the reviewing process is informed by the strategy.

It’s clear that the most important aspect for any comms strategy and plan is understanding the audience. After all, how can you expect to suggest a plan of activity that’s going to positively influence your audience without that insight?

 

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