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4 Tips for Developing Marketing Strategies That Lead to Big Ideas

The power of an idea is big, and that’s the reason many of us got into marketing in the first place. It’s also why we approach each and every project with fresh vigor – we know that the right idea with the right execution has the potential to change a business forever. Not so sure of that? Consider: Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?,” Dove’s “Real Beauty,” Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” and De Beers’s industry-changing “A Diamond Is Forever,” which launched in the 1940s.

In an increasingly difficult and complex marketing landscape, there are greater expectations around the quality of ideas as well as the strength of the connections they can build with customers. Just consider the variety and volume of messaging we’ve seen in 2020. We saw the usual mix of topics as we kicked off the year. Then, starting in March, we began seeing a waterfall of content created for a COVID-19 world and a culture of social and racial unrest, including: Burger King’s “Stay Home of the Whopper,” Heineken’s “Back the Bars,” Oscar Mayer’s “Front Yard Cookout,” Nike’s “Play for the World.”

An AdAge article that explored the common characteristics of effective marketing revealed that what persuades, engages and excites consumers is bravery. Ideas that push the envelope are most likely to pique consumers’ curiosity, triumph over their skepticism and potentially spark a connection.

Behind every brave, successful idea that reaches the marketplace is a great strategy. Having a sound strategy is what helps remove the chaos from the ideation process, making it possible to create and execute big marketing ideas with precision.

And behind every great strategy is a great strategy brief. When developing a brief, it’s easy for marketers to become overwhelmed because they have a tendency to begin with the end in mind. When teams do that, they can get derailed by concerns of how a given idea will or won’t allow them to get where they need to go in a way that’s on-brand, on budget and on schedule.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. Here are four tips and tricks to help marketers create a marketing brief and strategy that will help pave a path to brave, new and big ideas.

Lead with the target.

Focusing on the role your brand plays in the lives of the target will help you ground your brief in authenticity. A little research goes a long way, and demographics can be helpful in providing color and dimension. However, what matters most of all is that you clearly articulate the tension the target is experiencing when it comes to how your product or service fits into their world – this is the key to inspiring ideas that resonate and aren’t easily dismissed.

To get at what the target is truly feeling, you’ll need to consider the following questions: What is the target desiring or looking for? What are they afraid of? What are they struggling with? What story are they telling themselves about what your brand does and offers? Once you’ve pondered the answers to those questions, you’ll be able to accurately describe and understand the tension that’s alive and well in the lives of your customers.

Start by positioning your thinking adjacent to what already exists.

Great strategies – and thus, great ideas – don’t need to originate from a blank slate, shiny new insight or never-done-before space. Gold can be struck by making slight adjustments to existing ideas with a track record of success, i.e., using what’s been proven to identify the possible builds on successful initiatives as well as other new potential ways to move forward. Even small changes can give way to bigger and better ideas specific to what the target is endeavoring right now. With that in mind, earmark time to explore what opportunities you have to improve or shift strategies that already exist and are successful.

Just because it’s obvious to you doesn’t mean it is to your target.

As marketers, we know our brand and our lineup of products better than most consumers ever will. But the fact that we constantly live and breathe our brands can also make us blind to what is and isn’t obvious to our target. Don’t dismiss a message just because it seems basic to you – and if you feel uncertain, just revisit No.1 to remind yourself to remain rooted in what the target sees, feels and does. It might just be that something basic is actually what’s top of mind and the biggest concern for your customer in this moment.

Consider how another brand would solve this problem.

This can be a useful thought experiment when you are struggling to find a new angle for an ongoing message. While you should always evaluate each strategy for its relevance to your target audience, viewing the world through the lens of another brand (or another category) can open your mind to new possibilities. It can also lead to exciting new paths, platforms or channels that you never thought to consider – places where creativity is found and big ideas can thrive. That is, if you’re brave enough to go there.

Want to build a target-led strategy to drive fresh ideas for your brand? Email Ted at tjun@hiebing.com to set up a call.