There is a wealth of information on strategy already out there and the world doesn’t need another blog post about it. Hopefully, this isn’t another “what is strategy” post. The obvious resource would be Michael Porter’s What is Strategy?. A quick Google search also brings up a ton of great other resources.
I feel like I’ve been talking to a lot of people about defining strategy and strategists, so I thought I’d clarify a few things:
Research isn’t strategy
Qualitative and quantative research. Focus groups. Gathering information is definitely all part of the strategic process, but not strategy in it’s entirety. Compiling and digesting a volumes of information is something a strategist will have to do, but
Creative also isn’t strategy
I had a very well respected and successful creative director once tell me that creative is strategy. I tried not to roll my eyes too obviously. Creative can have a clear strategic vision, but, in and of itself, creative is not strategy. Creative is the execution of a strategy. These are the steps taken toward the goal.
Strategist: The New Specialist
I’ve noticed recently that many young professionals in advertising and marketing have taken to the habit of calling themselves “strategists” without having the background, experience, or skill set to appropriately garner the title. I feel like, too often, these “strategists” are confusing the act of executing a strategy with the process of developing strategic vision, actionable philosophy, or brand positioning.
Being active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, et al does not make you a social strategist. Building out social/web analytics reports or building the occasional deck does not make you a creative strategist. Strategist are generally planners that have a large breadth of experience to draw upon to create an insightful clear direction and plan.
Strategy is the path forged between insights and action.
1) develop an understanding of where you are now, 2) create a clear sense of where you want to end up (SMART goals are highly recommeded), 3) assess what stands in your way, 4) decide on approach, and 5) set a specific course of action.