What is strategic planning?

Good strategy makes a marketing campaign smarter and more effective, so it will lead to long term behavioural change instead of simply flashing by on a TV screen. It makes campaigns better at influencing and inspiring people to fall in love with a brand for longer. To remember the ads, get engaged in the activities. Make them stick.

My job is to first find out as much as I can about the brand and its consumer to understand what will make people fall for the brand offer. I research the target - young, old, men or women - to find out what they think, do and feel; I look into their lives and see where the brand fits in and why. To me it´s especially important to understand the emotions involved, what feelings that drive people to the brand or make them hesitate. What are they afraid of, what makes them feel they need the brand or turn elsewhere. The more I know, the more I figure out how to open people´s hearts and eyes.

For example, I interview consumers and non-consumers, run focus groups, do ethnographic studies of how people use the product or category, and search through the Internet to find statistics and see what research is already done that can shed light to my topic. I read articles, industry reports or facts from statistical data bases. Through the years I´ve also studied research on the power of influence from psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology and other areas, to draw upon science to finetune campaigns.

I also get to know the brand as well as possible; what kind of values it stands for, how it is behaving, who it partners with. Even if it´s just a shampoo or a razor, it can still have an idea on what kind of personality it has. When a brand has a strong core and is focused on how it wishes to enhance people´s lives it will become more successful.

Good strategic planning will find interesting insights and keys in all the data collected and from there decide on guidelines to help the creative department, on in which direction they should go, what they should think of when creating ads or activities on other marketing channels, and how consumer will react towards various types of messages. A planner should be opinionated and strong when recommending where to go and not - this is a crucial step. Even if a brand wants to tell the public something and the art director have a cool idea it´s not sure people are willing to listen, but a clever strategy will have thought about how to make an impact.

Most planners also contribute to ideas, especially in BTL – like digital, experiential and shopper marketing – and guide the team all the way to the end, to make sure it is “on strategy”.

This job has many names: strategist, strategic planner, planner, strategy planner... but it´s basically the same. The role is constantly evolving though, and the more people who take on this job, the more definitions there will be. Strategy is a growing field, in all kind of agencies - not just advertising. Many now see the value of making sure campaigns are effective and create the right results. 

Most strategist use models in their job, many of them I have presented on this blog in the past. Go have a look :) If you have any questions, don´t hesitate to contact me. Thanks!

These are some books that I find useful: 

Ariely Dan, Predictably irrational
Ariely Dan, The upside of irrationality
Carnegie Dale, How to win friends and influence people
Chapman Gary, The Five Love Languages
Chaudhuri Arjun, Emotion and Reason in Consumer Behavior
Cialdini Robert, Influence
Cooper Alan, How to plan advertising
Gladwell Malcolm, Blink
Gladwell Malcolm, Tipping point
Gobe Mark, Emotional branding
Godin Seth, Purple Cow
Goleman Daniel, Emotional Intelligence
Hill Dan, Emotionomics
Kahneman Daniel, Thinking, fast and slow
Levitt Steven D & Dubner Stephen J, Freakonomics
Lindstrom Martin, Brandwashed
Lindstrom Martin, Buy-ology
Mauborgne Kim, Blue ocean strategy
Pease Allan & Barbara, Why men don’t listen and women can´t read maps
Roberts Kevin, Lovemarks
Rumelt Richard, Good Strategy/Bad strategy
Schwartz Barry, The paradox of choice
Steel Jon, Truth, Lies & Advertising
Underhill Paco, Why we buy
Weaver Mary C, Market to women
Wiseman Richard, The Luck Factor
Wiseman Richard, Quirkology

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