I love thinking creatively.
I love being strategic about plans.
I believe you must be creative AND strategic in sharing your brand with others. Although creative strategy has been how I approach branding and business, it was only recently that we have perfected our process. I thought I would share how we do it so you can start thinking about branding and marketing differently but also start implementing for your brand.
Creative Strategy does not focus on one area of marketing or branding. It looks at the bigger picture to account for all parts of your business. For example, social media marketing is not effective if only considered by itself. Photography, website, events, client appreciation are just a few things that need to be considered to make social media successful.
Each company does this differently but we have found a process that works for small businesses looking to grow. We find that our 3-step process and the comprehensive nature of our strategies are what benefits our clients in the long term. We focus on areas such as the brand design, website, brand messaging, digital (social media and google) ads, memberships and local involvement, print and digital materials, photography and videography, collaborations/partnerships with businesses, referral programs, and client retention plans.
My hope is that this process helps you understand creative strategy better and realize “marketing” is not the only answer to growing your brand. Our creative strategies focus on the person of the brand, meeting people in their need, and communicating consistently.
Let me take you through our 3-Step Process
STEP 1 | Dive Deep
We start with a meeting where we talk through every part of the business. It can be a messy and disorganized conversation. It is helpful to begin by discussing what the client has already - services, clients, team members, processes, marketing, and branding. But the real information comes when you ask them questions like, “what is working?” or “what has been successful this year?” and then flip it and ask “what is not working?”.
By creating space and time to discuss it all, the business owner lets their guard down and just shares their thoughts, problems, and road blocks. They know that the conversation is not about answers or problem-solving or planning. It is about diving deep and laying it all out so I can organize it and create solutions for them. As leaders or business owners we feel we need to find a solution if we are going to take the time to discuss it. This meeting is about taking that load from them and providing a listening ear.
STEP 2 | Get Comprehensive
After taking detailed and messy notes, it is time for me to digest all of the information and begin to organize it into a document that outlines all the possible areas of creative strategy. Every business and every strategy is different. They don’t all need the same sections or areas of focus. This is a mistake I have seen many times for small businesses, thinking that you need to _____ (fill in the blank) because other businesses do it or because a youtube video told you to. The creative strategy should be comprehensive but customized. Bandwidth, budget, and the target customer have to guide the strategies you propose. Once I have created my draft, I present it to our team for refinement. Multiple creative minds provide perspective. They ask questions to clarify and refine, make recommendations, and add their expertise.
STEP 3 | Focus In
It is now time to share it with our client. I preface the multiple page document with a warning that it will be comprehensive and long. I tell them they should read it with energy not overwhelm. We intentionally start big so we can narrow it down. We will not try and complete everything at once but instead set realistic goals based on the business, budget, and bandwidth.
Once the client has time to digest it, we meet again to talk through what stood out to them, what excited them, and their questions. We set goals and make a plan for action. We assign tasks to specific people (the business owner, our team, or their team members). Being realistic and creating accountability is the key to success. This is how we move the needle. This is how we breathe life into the client and the business.
My hope is that you find our 3-step process helpful as you begin to think about your own business branding and marketing efforts.