Building a corporate, product or service brand – or planning any go-to-market activity in support of that brand (campaign, website, content, etc.) – in the absence of a strategy is like building a house without a solid foundation.

Creative must be grounded in a sound strategy, underpinned by a singular insight about the audience. This means going deeper – figuring out the intrinsic human need that’s driving the consumer, and showing how you’ll meet that need or solve that pain point. Look at the data available to you, get the data that isn’t, and plan things out in a way that makes sense.

Why bother? Strategy empowers creativity. When you give a creative team a strategic, authentic and singular insight, they’ll push the creative that much further. Creative teams need a defined sandbox to work in; otherwise, the unlimited choice and scope can be paralyzing and actually stifle great work. Context is always king. Without a sound strategy up front to inspire the creative, you often get – at best – mediocre, unsuccessful creative tactics in search of a strategy. At worst, you get a poor buyer’s journey and a brand experience that ticks people off. And once you lose someone’s interest, it’s very hard (and expensive) to win it back.

When it comes to effective marketing, a big spend and eye-catching creative isn’t enough; spending time and money on strategic planning is the key to success and worth the investment.

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About The Author

Theresa is the President of McMillan, an independent creative agency headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, with offices in NYC that specializes in the brand experience for a global clientele. She’s responsible for plotting the pragmatic course of action through business development, strategic services offerings and industry partnerships that define the agency’s growth and corporate strategies. Theresa’s been a B2C and B2B marketing professional for more than 25 years, honing her craft in the consumer-packaged goods, software and advocacy sectors and is a strategist-by-trade, which has amplified her life-long passion for pulling things apart to see how they work. She brought that insatiable curiosity to McMillan in 2007, building the agency’s strategic services practice from a one-woman operation into the guiding force behind successful projects for Intuit, LexisNexis and Trend Micro, and becoming President in 2018.