A creative strategy is a blueprint that outlines how you plan to meet specific goals and objectives. In this piece, we’ll explain what a creative strategy is and why you need one for business growth. We’ll also discuss the different parts of a creative strategy and the general steps you can take to create one.
Strategy is essential to winning in the game of chess. You must plan moves to outsmart your competition if you want to be the last player standing. In business, a creative strategy is a detailed plan of how you’ll achieve your goals. You’ll use this strategy to outsmart competitors and appeal to customers or clients in ways they haven’t yet thought of.
In this piece, we’ll explain what a creative strategy is and why you need one for business growth. We’ll also discuss the parts of a creative strategy and the general steps you can take to create one.
A creative strategy is a blueprint your company creates that outlines how you plan to meet specific goals and objectives, like your company’s brand identity, marketing, and long-term business growth. An effective creative strategy involves a mixture of strategic goals and innovative approaches to meet those goals. In your strategy, you should:
Define your target audience
Identify the actions you want your audience to take
Explain the strategies you’ll use to make those actions happen
Having a creative strategy is important because it’s the best way to ensure your end product aligns with your expectations. The creative strategy statement—or a brief outline of how your strategy will appeal to your target audience—also gives the creative team a clear idea of how they should move forward with a project and who they should have in mind when creating deliverables.Get Discovery's creative production template
It’s important for your creative strategy to be unique so you can outperform competitors, but the best way to begin the strategic process is with a list of simple questions. Any marketing team can use these questions to get the ideas flowing when writing their creative strategy.
What is our brand voice? Your brand voice is your company’s personality. Your voice encompasses not only what you say, but also how you say it. Essentially, your voice is how you want your audience to feel about you through every form of communication. Do you want to have a funny and casual voice or a more formal and informative tone? It’s important to stick to your brand voice, whatever you choose, because this voice will build awareness and trust.
What are our primary objectives? Your primary objectives are the end goals you want to achieve through your marketing campaigns. When you define your goals, you gain clarity in your strategic approach, which makes it easier to build out the rest of the strategy.
Who is our target audience? Knowing who you’re trying to reach with your marketing message is crucial to your creative strategy. Without a specific target audience, you’ll spend unnecessary time and money spreading your message to people who are uninterested in your brand.
What do our customers or clients want? Once you know your target audience, use market research to determine what they want from you. The best way to ensure your marketing plan succeeds is to speak to the needs of your end user.
What is our primary message? Your marketing message will need a primary focus, but it should also align with your brand voice. If you’re selling a product or service, your message will focus on how you can best serve your end user. If you’re creating deliverables for a client, your message may focus on solving their problem.
What call to action will we use? Customer-focused products and services require a call to action so you can get your users to take action. Depending on your target market, your call to action may be bold or it may be more subtle.
What will our deliverables be? After identifying what your customers or clients want, you can make creative assets that fit that need. Assess what resources you’ll need to create those assets and determine whether your team members have bandwidth available.
What marketing channels will we use? Your target audience likely uses specific marketing channels depending on their demographics. For example, if you’re marketing to a younger audience, focus your campaign on social media channels like Instagram and Twitter. Older audiences may use Google more frequently, which will require you to focus more on SEO.
What is our budget? Your project budget determines how you plan and carry out your creative ideas. You may have an innovative strategy for marketing a new product, but if you don’t have the money to put that strategy into action, then fleshing out the strategy isn’t worth it.
How much time do we have to develop the creative strategy? Building a creative strategy takes time because if you’re not thorough during the planning stage, the execution stage will go awry. Knowing your project timeline is important so you can stay within these time constraints and plan accordingly.
Use the questions above as a framework when writing your creative strategy. You’ll see that many of those questions go hand in hand with the step-by-step process outlined below.
Use the goals of your creative marketing strategy to build out your strategy piece-by-piece. Everything in your strategy should relate to those goals so that your strategy feels cohesive.
Tip: Make your goals SMART goals so that they’re easy to measure and monitor during strategy execution. For example, one of your goals may include increasing your customer base by 10% year-over-year. Your creative strategy would then detail how you plan to achieve that goal.
Your creative strategy statement is like a mission statement, with the focus being, “Why are we writing this creative strategy, who are we writing it for, and what value will it bring?” Aim to answer this question succinctly without missing any of the major points.
Tip: The goal of your creative strategy is to communicate your game plan to everyone within your organization. When discussing the value of your product or service, be sure to include how you plan to stand out from your competitors. An example of a creative strategy statement may be:
“We want top B2B and B2C executives using social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to be so impressed with our joyful and humorous marketing campaigns that they reach out to us for help with their own marketing.”Read: 7 steps to complete a social media audit (with template)
Success metrics—also known as KPIs—will help you track how well your strategy is performing against your primary objectives. Knowing your metrics from day one can give you time to determine how best to track them. For example, you may have social media and financial metrics with different platforms for tracking each.
Tip: Once you choose success metrics for your creative strategy, set project milestones for when to monitor these metrics. During these checkpoints, determine whether your strategy is progressing as expected or if you need to change direction.
Your message and your target audience comprise a significant portion of your creative strategy. This is where creativity comes in, and you’ll want to consider everything from the length and tone to the delivery of your message. Who you’re writing to is a key factor in deciding how you should build your message.
Tip: The most effective way to know whether your message fits your target audience is to create personas. Detailed personas make it easier to put yourself in the mind of your target audience and deliver a message they would want to hear.
You can set an accurate budget for your creative strategy by outlining everything you think you’ll spend money on. Items you should include in your budget may include:
Marketing software or creative programs
If you don’t begin with an itemized budget, you can easily go over budget without noticing.
Tip: Estimating costs in the planning phase allows you to adjust your budget accordingly before you spend money. If you notice your expected spending is too robust, you’ll have time to search for cheaper vendors or plan a more cost-effective strategy.
Sticking to a timeline can keep your project within budget and ensure that your end user is satisfied. For example, if you develop a product and your customers expect a specific release date, they may lose trust if you don’t deliver on time. Instead, to ensure everyone stays on track, add milestones to your timeline for team members to follow.
Tip: Use project management software to create timelines and track team member progress against project milestones. Then, create Gantt charts to visualize contingencies between project tasks.Read: Strategy vs. tactics: What's the difference?
A content marketing company may use a creative strategy to accomplish various goals that lead to long-term business growth. If they notice their social media engagement waning, they can develop a creative strategy focused on social media marketing. See the creative strategy example below for how this agency plans to increase engagement.
Goals: To increase social media engagement by 25% next quarter, with 10% of that engagement being on Instagram and 15% being on Facebook.
Creative strategy statement: To engage and entertain potential clients who find themselves on social media during their workday. Our goal is to spark joy with excellent content and impress clients with our skills, without making them feel pressured to use our services.
KPIs: We’ll measure likes, comments, shares, clicks, and followers through Facebook and Instagram analytics pages.
Message: Our message will be joyful and humorous, and our skills should speak for themselves. When clients see our work, we hope they’ll say, “I want to use something like this for my company.”
Target audience: Our target audience is top executives at B2B and B2C companies.
Budget: $50–100k spent on paid advertising, organic SEO post creation and video production.
Timeline: Three months of creation, three additional months to evaluate performance.
You’ll need a dedicated team to build and execute a creative strategy. To keep everything organized, use project management software to build timelines, set budgets, and monitor KPIs in one place. You can then share these items with team members and work together to outshine your competitors.Get Discovery's creative production template