I won’t be mentioning the elephant in the room. We all know what’s going on, and it makes us all a little bit scared to look to the future. What I am going to talk about was very important even before the current events started transpiring. What’s more important – it will be HUGELY important when everything calms down and begins to settle down.
Strategy. We hear this word from clients, looking for an agency, very often. And rigtfully so. Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t have anything to do with a plan to reach a long term goal. It’s often just in the context of channels – “we need a Facebook/YouTube/AdWords/TikTok strategy”. Clients usually search for many “strategists” – agency for Facebook posts, other agency for media planning, , third for AdWords, fourth for Instagram Stories’ content, fifth for Social Performance Ads… And so on, and on, and on… That wouldn’t be bad in itself, but all these actions usually don’t have any common denominator. All the “strategies” don’t have a common… well, strategy.
I think it’s high time to wake up, stand back and get a better look of the big picture. Let’s stop chasing every new shiny thing – you don’t need to “be on TikTok”, you don’t need to “do something on Insta” just because the competition is doing it. Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat and other channels are precisely that – CHANNELS. They don’t need separate strategies. An action plan is necessary, that’s for sure. But only when – and that’s crucial – you have a clear business, and then – communication – strategy.
A long time ago, in the beginning of the “TV era” brands tried to create content for TV – we have masterpieces like Tony the Tiger cartoons and Flinstone’s specials where they wax poetic about the benefits of Winston cigarettes as a result. People didn’t find that to be very interesting, to put it mildly, so brands decided to limit themselves to product placement and advertising, which let TV channels buy interesting content from people who were good at making it. In the audio department things are very similar – we hear about songs, composed by or for brands only in the context of “did you hear that nonsense???” Maybe we should finally give up when talking about other channels as well? Yes, people like good content, but only when it’s – and I can’t stress this enough – GOOD. In other words – they like hearing from you when you actually have something substantial to say. Not when you hear in a conference or read in a post on LinkedIn that there’s this new amazing channel where all the 12 year olds are at, and that you simply must reach them with your trendy cool messaging and “create a following”, so that when they grow up they are loyal to your brand of laundry detergent. Or maybe even become your brand ambassadors, whatever that means.
You don’t. What you NEED to do is THINK about WHO YOU ARE and clean up that schizophrenic mess of fifteen strategies for fifteen different media channels. You NEED to figure out WHAT your unique selling points are and HOW can they be convincingly described to your target audiences, WHEREever those audiences spend their time. And then figure out how to buy space on those channels in the most effective way. Yes, buy. Not try to pretend that you’re just there to “make some content” and find lots of cool new friends.
Don’t get me wrong, you might make some cool new friends. But not because of your amazing new “Facebook strategy”. You might make some new friends when people see your advertising, believe in your brand’s promises enough to be interested, buy the products advertised and are so delighted by them that they want to find out more, tell their friends about it and help you with you social responsibility goals. But not the other way around. So instead of fifteen different “strategies” to reach meaningless vanity KPIs, limit yourselves to one – your BUSINESS strategy.
That’s going to be much harder, I admit. But the fruits of this labour are going to be much, much sweeter. Because admit it – when the CEO asks you about the value that the marketing department (or you specifically) creates to the company, it’s going to be much cooler to tell them about client loyalty and rising sales (or at least the minimising of the pain, caused by the recession) than about Facebook engagement percentages, Instagram views or TikTok followers, right?