by Kelly Hobkirk
Countless times, I’ve listened to owners and managers back away from that critical point at which they must begin making strategic commitments. It’s usually when they reach that point of discovery in their project which reveals to them that insisting on skipping strategy was a critical mistake, leaving a gaping hole in their creative marketing efforts.
This happened about a month ago when a client sidestepped all of our strategy questions, instead pointing us to a brand style guide for a yet-to-be-launched brand. I should have red-flagged the project as soon as the sidestepping began, but always the optimist, I kept the project moving forward by filling in the style guide’s holes.
I’ve become quite skilled at quickly routing out the weak points and shoring them up for clients, but there can be some initial backpedaling, where the client feels out of control. What they sometimes don’t realize is that out of control feeling is the best thing that could possibly happen at that moment because it forces us to address important issues before moving productively forward. It also lays groundwork for a smoother process next time. For their part, answering strategy questions, and for our part red-flagging instead of moving forward.
It’s beneficial to understand that forcing a team member to skip a critical step such as strategy is a mistake that undermines team connection, messaging consistency and creative. (Strategy reinforces marketing’s three C’s.)
The resulting clarity of direction is often profound, opening the door to project success.