All of a sudden, strategy is a buzz word. And to that, I say, “Right on.” In the work I do with clients, strategy is foundational; it drives everything we do.
Let’s talk about strategy without using the word. Effective communications and marketing activities are part of a broader plan. The most successful education websites and print collateral and social channels are grounded in the realities of a brand platform. Just doing some stuff won’t help you reach your goals. And, yes, an intentional plan for communications and marketing includes goals.
Back to using the buzz word: strategy is difficult. When you at last get funding or a green light for a new marketing initiative, you may be frustrated about any pauses for discussions about goals. You may want to fast track the meetings about purpose and audience. Can’t we just get started?
Strategy is often the phase most likely to be skipped. Of course we know what our message is. Of course we all agree about what we’re trying to accomplish. We know who we are, let’s get going.
Anyone who has ever attended the unveil of any creative (for a website, a postcard or a video) has seen what happens when we move ahead without the difficult work of strategy. Anyone who has asked others to review copywriting knows what happens when the writing is not preceded by the easily skipped strategy phase.
Still need to be convinced? Perhaps these three final thoughts will cinch the deal:
- No strategy means you risk your project.
Expectations and limitations are often identified during an upfront strategy phase. These are more easily negotiated at the start. It’s also better (and sometimes easier) to build them in at the beginning rather than retrofit them later.
- No strategy means it is very hard to control scope.
Absent a plan and intentional decisions about priorities, any option or garden path seems reasonable. In order to launch or publish or go live, you have to have an endpoint. Limits to what you’re doing—a defined scope—means you’ll actually finish.
- No strategy means your results may be vanilla.
Exceptional communications and marketing initiatives involve bold elements that stake a claim and introduce risk. Without early buy-in from leadership on your campus, that incredible creative for the target audience may be influenced by naysayers and ultimately recast as the vanilla option.