Every brand and business needs a creative strategy in order to be intriguing and successful. The creative strategy a business chooses to implement will determine pivotal marketing and advertising efforts that define who they are as a brand. Although many use a set strategy, it is important to take creative risks to make a unique breakthrough and be noticed. Take Alka-Seltzer's commercial; 'Mama Mia! That's a spicy meatball!' for example. This commercial, broadcasted in 1969, took a turn for the unconventional, branding Alka-Seltzer in a unique way, making both the advertisement and the brand widely recognized.

Marketing Measurement

Many marketing benchmarks such as sales, web traffic, SEO, social engagement, and conversion rates are all fairly simple to measure. These results are tracked with analytical data, thus making their performance measurable. If one tactic isn't working, it's easy to figure out why, and try an alternative approach. However, before you can help build the results that you want for your brand, there should be a strategy in place. The backbone of every strategy is based on a creative idea--and all interesting, creative ideas are fueled by extensive research and detailed insights. The purpose of Creative Strategy is to set the foundation for business growth, and can be considered in three core steps.
  1. Research
  2. Creativity
  3. Strategic Planning
creative strategy planning Creative Strategy is essential to any marketing plan--especially for the launch of a new website. Any cohesive strategy will address and outline the following--all of which impact business growth:

1. Needs and Goals

The only way to get a clearly defined answer is to ask clearly defined questions. A well thought-out Creative Strategy will uncover the most pertinent business and brand needs to address and leverage both consumer and industry insights, illustrating a custom solution. Take Dominos' Pizza Turnaround Campaign for example. Once Dominos began taking customer feedback and applying it to its creative marketing strategy, sales skyrocketed. With Dominos' Pizza Turnaround Campaign, the recipes and style of pizza changed to suit customer preferences. Once altering their product to target customers, Dominos came out victorious in a pizza taste test. Dominos engaged in several sales tactics such as contests awarding customers free pizza, being featured on Gayle King's talk show, celebrity endorsements, and much more. The hashtag #NewPizza trended on social media. Dominos allowed its satisfied customers to do the marketing for them.

2. Create A Roadmap

Solutions are a great starting point - but how do we get there? It's the job of a Creative Strategist to determine the most effective way to get from Point A to Point B. What threats stand in the way and how can they be avoided? What mistakes have other businesses made and what can be learned from them? Creating a roadmap that addresses these questions is essential to mobilize your team with a bird's eye view of clear next steps.Creating a roadmap will allow for employees to clearly understand the company's creative marketing strategy. Sometimes a business should prepare multiple marketing plans to address specific targets.
SWOT Analysis
A marketer could use a SWOT analysis to answer questions and identify the next steps for a business. The SWOT analysis is a useful technique for understanding your business's strengths and weaknesses, and to identify both the opportunities open to your business and the threats you face (the elements that make up the acronym: SWOT). By assessing your company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, you can properly format a creative marketing plan to move your company forward. Sedibeng Breweries devised a new business plan once assessing a SWOT analysis of their business. Based on their several strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, they were able to better orchestrate a creative marketing strategy.

3. What's Happening?

Simply put, a Creative Strategy must be informed. What's going on in your industry? What is the competition doing? What new technology is on the horizon? What's going on in the digital and social space? A roadmap can't weave through the complexities of the business world without being well informed on what's happening... everywhere.
online marketing trends
By staying informed on industry changes, you can stay on top of your industry. A competitive analysis is a good strategy to keep your company as up- to-date as possible. A completive analysis involves identifying your competition and comparing their products and services as well as their strengths and weaknesses to your own. You can also stay up-to-date by reading trade magazines, visiting online news sites about your business field, and attending industry conferences.

4. Tell A Story

Content drives online success, but what drives content? A brand's point of view - their story - should set the foundation for all communication efforts. What is your brand's unique perspective and position? This will determine your messaging strategy and visual vocabulary. Every audience loves a story. What's yours?
Beardbrand, a company that sells facial hair grooming supplies, is a story of beard-lovers and their efforts to market their unique product to their target customers appropriately. Founder Eric Bandholz discovered his passion when he entered in the 2012 West Coast Beard & Mustache Championships. While at the competition, he fell in love with the culture. He was inspired to unite beardsmen and build a community that would turnaround the negative stereotype of bearded men being lazy and unkempt. Eric states that Beardbrand produces a steady stream of quality content aimed at men "who are passionate not only about their facial hair, but their style, their careers and their independence".

5. Influence Behavior

Great - the goals are now determined and the plan is in place. Now, what is the desired action we want the end user (the audience) to take? The more specific the action, the more effective the conversion will be. By establishing direct calls to action and intuitive online pathways for users, the strategy will translate into consumer-focused terms that are both relatable and relevant. Take CloudSponge for example, once they redesigned their website; they achieved a 33% Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) increase. By making their website interactive and adding a call to action, CloudSponge was able to influence the behavior of their customers by converting page visitors into customers. Check out their website now compared to how it was in 2012:

Creative Strategies Build Success

In the interest of long-term brand success, it's important to set a stable foundation and not take short cuts. It's not always directly measurable, but a sharp Creative Strategy is evident along every brand touch point, and can set the tone for messaging, design and marketing for years to come. It's crucial to business growth, and will be an effective way for any brand to achieve their outlined goals and objectives. This post was originally published June 2013 and has since been updated.
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