Before we kick off, let’s start with some definition.
What is a strategist?
A strategist is a problem solver whose job it is to get someone to do something. The someone is an audience. The something could be buying a product, feeling a certain way about a brand or taking a certain action like voting.
We get someone to do something with a mixture of understanding of human behaviour and discernment on how consumer markets work, mixed with a dollop of creativity .
Our process, at a top level takes these steps...
- We work to understand and clearly define the problem. Where is the business now? Where do they want to be?
- We search to uncover all the things that may affect this problem. What are competitors communicating? Are there any consumer trends that could benefit or affect the business?
- We use that information merged with audience research and experience to give a point of view on how to create the needed change.
- Then we make a set of plans to achieve this change, to get someone to do something e.g. creating a brief for a new social media video, or developing new language for the brand to help change brand perceptions.
You might see Creative Strategists, Brand Strategists, or Content Strategists across the YunoJuno Platform, but we are all problem solvers. We all apply a similar process but some have niched down more than others.
The question is whether this skill set is right for your business? All businesses want is to get someone to do something. Bringing in an experienced strategist for a period of time can bring measurable benefits.
There are many situations where you should consider bringing in a strategist. Below I have outlined just three of these moments.
1. You’re launching a new brand, product or feature
First impressions count, so you must frame a new launch well. The strategist's role is to unearth the reason why someone would care about the launch and then find the best way to communicate this. You might read this and think ‘We know this, because we came up with it’ but don't underestimate the power of an experienced outsider's perspective. Launches can fail, not because the product or feature is bad, but because they failed to communicate the value to the audience effectively.
Tiktok let the audience know that ‘TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Our mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy’ and they shot to success. Whereas, video platform Quibi...well...RIP Quibi. When launching something new, a strategist ensures you make the perfect first impression.
A strategist will look at the competitive market, product attributes and the audience needs to direct the plan and messaging of the launch.
NTT Data is a global tech-enabled consultancy. They hired me to help them plan the launch and messaging for a new c-suite focused thought-leadership magazine. My work involved dissecting the c-suite audience and planning content to promote the magazine. Ultimately building credibility for the company.
2. You need to connect and sell to an audience
People buy the same thing for different reasons. Here’s my best example (feel free to steal it). When Pope Francis is looking for wine, he’s looking for the richest embodiment of the blood of Christ. When Bridget Jones is buying wine, she is looking for misery juice to make the weekend roll by as she overthinks her latest crush. Same product, very different motivations.
As a brand grows, it is normal to move away from your low-hanging-fruit audience and to search out new customers. Look at Monzo for example. They captured their early adopters of London techies through communities and referrals, but now they flex their message and are running TV ads to soak up a wider audience. A strategist can help shift your offering to a new audience by uncovering insights about the audience you want to connect to.
A strategist will uncover how to flex your brand and product messaging to make it appeal to a whole new segment of people.
I worked with Calm app to help them expand their audience into new segments unaware of the benefits of meditation. We did this by finding news ways of framing the product to those who don’t have the foggiest what Ujjayi Pranayama means.
3. You are evolving your brand
Brands, much like people, need to evolve over time. Kanye West, like him or loathe him has evolved from rapper, to sneaker mogul, to evangelist preacher and presidential nominee. His brand evolves and stays relevant. Brands must take steps to evolve also. Old Spice reinvented their brand from a whiff of Grandad to the scent for the smoothest men around. In turn, they shot back up to relevancy. If you are looking to evolve your brand then a strategist is a valuable pair of hands to have on board.
A strategist will scrutinise the market to find a new way for your brand to evolve, keeping you competitive rather than falling behind and letting your competitors take over.
When working with Hewlett Packard, we needed to refresh a sub-segment of their brand in order to connect with young gamers looking to purchase gaming PCs. To do this, we positioned HP gaming as the balance of design and performance this audience crave.
As I said, these are just three of the scenarios I have found where a strategist can help push along your big plans. If you want to bring in an outside perspective with experience building brands, connecting to audiences and getting someone to do something, then bring in a strategist.