We’ve all been subject to last-minute, one-off asks that don’t link back to specific objectives and an overarching strategy. Clients get anxious that they are not meeting a target and decide that ‘something needs to go out’. Maybe they’re right; but whether that something is a news release, video, social media post or other tactic, it should definitely fit into the bigger picture. That’s where you come in.
Here are a few questions to spark strategic thinking:
(1) What are your objectives?
This may seem very basic, but it’s the most important thing. Ask your client what they are trying to achieve with this particular communication. Maybe they need a spike in sales before a particular deadline, or to sell out an event. Whatever the purpose, make sure it links back to your overall objectives.
(2) Why now?
Two weeks ago, after the ‘Brangelina’ breakup made headlines, Norwegian airlines came out with an ad that read ‘Brad is Single’, suggesting that customers hop on a flight to L.A to pursue Brad Pitt. Though some found the ad to be opportunistic and insensitive, others thought it was brilliant and funny. One thing is for sure – it was timely, and therefore got a lot of attention.
(3) How does it fit into the bigger picture?
This question stems from your objectives. If your client wants to send yet another email to all his/her prospects, you have to ask, how does this fit into the overall strategy? Will it lead to desired results, or will it just annoy people?
(4) What is the key message and what does it say about your organization?
Whatever the tactic, your key message should integrate well with your brand’s identity. Every decision you make builds your customers’ perceptions, so if even you’re making one that’s not planned, its message should appear intentional and seamless.
(5) Is this the best way to achieve the desired result?
Make sure you consider all the alternatives. Will this move have the most impact? What are the costs and benefits? If you and your client have asked all the questions and believe you need to take a leap, then you should. Now more than ever, quick thinking and off the cuff strategies are part of the communications game.
(6) How will you measure it?
Make sure your efforts are measurable and insist on evaluating the impact to see if it was worthwhile, how it could be improved and what could be done differently next time around.
One-offs happen and can sometimes be effective and crucial. However, a string of them can turn into decisions that don’t necessarily fit together or enhance your brand. Asking the right questions can help your client think strategically and make decisions that will work for them now and in the long run.