Step up, be strategic

It more difficult than ever for organizations to reflect on their messaging and define their strategy for what they are saying, why, and to whom. Unfortunately, most communications departments are maxed out on simply keeping up with the tactical needs of sales forces and senior executives. This leaves even the most able performers often too busy fulfilling day to day demands for deliverables to take the time to step back and truly consider what their messaging strategy needs to be.

At the same time, because the marketplace has never been more clogged with information, mis information and just plain noise, the need for a strategic approach to messaging has never been higher. Saying who you are and why you’re great simply isn’t enough anymore. There are so many claims out there, in every mature market segment, that you have to dig deep for effective differentiation. Doing this right takes a bit of legwork.

One of the biggest mistakes I see in branding exercises is the assumption that all the answers lie within the organization, and we, the strategist, just need to extract them. Strategy is not an act of extraction, but of creation. Yes, there are many vital insights to be gleaned from the client themselves. But ultimately, the inputs have to extend beyond what the client knows, and include a level of analysis that adds real value to what they already understand.

But it doesn’t have to take forever. In fact, in less time than it’s taken for large organizations to pass web copy through their approval process, we have interviewed internal stakeholders, performed a competitive analysis, and surveyed customers for key observations and validation. We recently did this for a new luxury market sales and management consultancy. We moved quickly, but acted comprehensively and were able to give them a strong strategic sendoff that will save them a good two years of trial and error. That’s the value of stepping up to strategy.

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