Many marketing benchmarks are easy to assess: sales, web traffic, SEO, social engagement and conversion rates. These results are tracked with hard data and as a result success is measurable. If one tactic isn’t working, it’s easy to try another.

But not so fast. Results are the final outcome of a marketing initiative – but where do these results originate? Let’s trace back the steps. Before every successful conversion there is a strategy in place. Before every strategy is a creative idea. And all good creative ideas are fueled by extensive research and insights. This is the purpose of Creative Strategy: to set the foundation for business growth in three simple steps: 1) research 2) creativity 3) strategic planning.

Creative Strategy is essential to any marketing plan or new website, and good Creative Strategy should address the following five foundations that impact business growth:

1) Identify needs / determine 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/brand needs to address and leverage consumer/industry insights to illustrate a custom solution.

2) Figure out 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 how can they be learned from? Creating a roadmap that addresses these questions is essential to mobilize your team with a bird’s eye view of clear next steps.

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.

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?

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.

Written by James McCrae