Why Strategy Means More Than You Think

For those of you who don’t know what AMC’s new show The Pitch is about, it’s essentially a reality show based around Marketing & Web Design Agencies like ours competing to win bids on major brands looking to engage in new marketing campaigns. The show follows each company and their trials and tribulations along the way – from the brief all the way through to the big pitch. At the end, the winning agency is announced and to the victors goes the spoils.

This week’s episode was centered on two marketing agencies – one from Charlotte and another from New York City – to win the rights to the Pop Chips account. What transpired became the world’s greatest excuse to write a blog about process and strategy, ever.

Here’s the rundown of the episode for those of you who need the context:

The Charlotte team was super creative, had great employees, great ideas but lacked strategic focus. New York’s creative was poor and their ‘process’ wasn’t really a process at all. In spite of not being able to execute either of those key components, the New York team did seem to have a loose grasp on the strategy that would be needed to drive their ideas.

Both agencies made their pitch. The Charlotte agency looked comfortable and certainly had a multitude of great ideas. However – as was evidenced through the episode – their presentation lacked strategic focus. The New York agency had a poor (OK, almost terrible) idea, and seemed awkward and uncomfortable throughout their pitch. However, the strategy behind what they wanted to do was far more apparent.

New York won the account.

What’s the moral of the story? It’s that you can have all the creative ideas in the world, but if there isn’t a focused process and strategic vision to implement them, you’re wasting your time.

That’s why here at Bop Design, we take process and strategy very seriously. In light of this week’s lesson from TV on such matters, we figured it’d be the perfect opportunity to talk about how we approach and attack our campaigns and web sites.

Information and creative are more intertwined today then they’ve ever been. Creating marketing strategies based on bringing all of those pieces together into one, meaningful whole isn’t ‘something that’s nice to do,’ but rather, something you have to do. That means creating more than a web site that pleases our clients – we create experiences that please their clients.

Here’s our web site creation process:

  • Information gathering– Collecting information is more than filling out a survey and saying ‘thanks for playing.’ It’s scoping out the competition, identifying gaps, finding your target audience, getting to know them, who they are, what they do, how they do things, what matters most to them and gaspwhere your service or product fits into their lives. We figure that websites should reflect what your clients want, so finding out as much as we can about who they are and what they’re all about is important to us. In fact, truly creative web design depends on it.We also define why you’re doing what you’re doing. All marketing should be outcome-driven and defining what success means to a project should be one of the first things we identify. Are you judging success on monetary gains? Better branding? Consumer engagement? Whatever your goal is – we need to figure out what it is and what your world should look like if we’ve met our objectives.While finding the answers to these questions may seem daunting, it’s actually not. Your clients will give you the answers you need. It’s our job to ask the right questions.
  • Analyzing information– It’s one thing to have access to a lot of information, it’s another thing to take it and do something with it. Information and data on it’s own should never be thought of as a ‘competitive advantage.’Information and data is a tool. It’s what you use it for that counts. And yes – just like the ones you have on your workbench, tools are there to help you accomplish specific tasks and objectives. Information for the purpose of web design is no different.Not only can pointed analysis help us identify gaps, but it will also help identify strengths. Maybe your real problem isn’t that you’re not doing something; it’s that you’re not doing enough of something else. Information is a powerful directional tool and disseminating data and trusting it can help dictate the strategic scope of your web design project and give us a solid foundation to create from.
  • Design planning – Great, creative web designis more than a navigation bar, a banner, good copy and a cool looking photo. It’s putting together an intuitive user experience that not only meets your client’s needs, but also falls in line with their behaviors. How the pages flow, where you want people to go, what you want them to do, how they find the information they’re looking for on your site – no matter what it is, it needs to reflect your clients and their needs.The best part about planning is that clients are usually pretty good at letting you know how they like to do things. So long as your homework has been done on the information-gathering end of things, you’ll be standing on solid ground. Your clients may be focused, precision shoppers who get in and get out. Some may like to browse around, kick back and relax for a while. Whatever they like to do, we’ll find out and create a graphic design that caters to those needs and behaviors.And yes – you’ll see outlines, color palettes, structures, navigation styles – you’ll see it all and have a clear understanding of what’s being done and why. For example, we’ll help you understand how color choice can make a significant difference in the unspoken messages you’re communicating to your clients. These things matter. Having you on board and understanding the methodology behind what’s being done helps you ask better questions, saves us headaches and makes you a participant in the process, as opposed to someone standing around and waiting for something to happen. It also gives you a B2B website that does what it’s supposed to do – get results.
  • Presentation, Feedback and Revisions– We’re good at creating great designs. We’re better at being judged. In fact, we’re completely comfortable with it.When we’re done, you’ll get three client-facing, information-driven, beautifully designed custom web designs to choose from. You might like some of one and more of another. You might hate one and go with the other. Whatever vision you have, we’ll work with you to help you make it a reality.

We’re not only in the business of creating ideas; we’re in the business of cultivating them. That means taking them and helping them grow into all they can be. Plenty of web design agencies and small business internet marketing firms will give you good ideas. Finding marketing consultants that can turn them into something real and tangible is another.


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