A good planner, as I mentioned in my previous post, can be a real asset.

Sometimes though, marketers can’t afford one. What do you do when that happens? You have to do some strategic thinking yourself.

Yes, copywriters and art directors can think strategically like planners, too. My art director Jeff and I often have to do this. The situation may be such that our clients don’t know exactly how they should position their brand, or what they need to say to their customers. So we agree on a number of possible strategies or propositions. This can be quite easy if we have research findings to think about, and a good description of our target market.

Jeff and I then create campaign concepts that bring the strategies to life.

Now, you may think, what a waste of time creating ideas that will never run. But Jeff and I, and our clients too, have found this a reliable way to make sure we’re heading in the right direction.

We come up with half a dozen different campaigns, each consisting of three or four ideas. Sometimes it’s just enough to see a concept on paper to decide that one direction has merit and another is rubbish. At other times, we need to put them all into research to see which one comes out best.

In any case, it works. So if you don’t have a planner to work with, why not try being one yourself?

If you ever need to do some strategic thinking, I recommend reading the marketing classic, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, by Al Ries and Jack Trout, which was recommended to me many years ago by Kate Bristow, who is now Chief Strategy Officer of M&C Saatchi LA.

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