With Muckle Media, Managing Director Nathalie Agnew and guest speaker, General Manager at Eleven PR (Sydney) Fiona Milliken.
The second #CommsCamp webinar series focuses around ‘strategy’, which saw us exploring strategy as long-term thinking and planning in years rather than days and weeks. We spoke broadly on this topic and various tools you can use but also took a closer look at one specific area ‘purpose led communications’ with expert advice from this week’s guest speaker Fiona Milliken.
The word ‘strategy’ is often overused and misapplied
Strategy can be a difficult thing to get your head around even though we come across it on a regular basis. We often see the word being overused and misapplied, brands will talk about having all different kinds of strategies, and whilst we can apply strategy to lots of things we’ve found that quite often it’s not actually a strategy but more of a ‘tactical plan’. We explained the difference, which our guest speaker Fiona Milliken succinctly describes as ‘strategy is thinking in years, not day or weeks’.
Tactics are important for achieving the strategy, but you need to elevate your plan and identify how communications can provide a long-term view of where you want to go. Think to yourself ‘what are the core pillars for achieving the end goal?’. This is exactly why we don’t talk about content or channels until much later in our planning process, these are generally tactical ways to deliver on a strategy.
Understanding your proposition in the market
A lot of what we discuss in this session feeds back into insights, if you don’t have these and don’t understand your customer or you position in the market it’s going to be really difficult to create a solid strategy. Nathalie explains ‘if you get the insights right, then the strategy will almost create itself and should be right in front of you’.
We divide proposition into two sections, value proposition and customer profile. Value proposition focuses on your organisation and what it can offer. Something to consider here is the ‘gain creators’, this is the benefits you can give to others and on the opposite level we have ‘pain relievers’ which are the issues you solve, you tend to see this a lot in start-ups who had found a gap in the market.
The customer profile should align with your value proposition, think about your customer and the pain/challenges they might face. This can help later on with thinking of some creative campaigns. Fiona pointed out ‘customers are wanting brands that have similar values and beliefs to them and see how they can make a difference’.
Purpose can’t purely come from communication, it needs to sit across an organisation
Although they’re not a new thing we’re starting to see a lot more purpose led strategies, Fiona explains ‘ in its simplest form, it’s using the power of a brand to create a better world’.
From years of experience, Fiona has found that customers aren’t making decisions based on products, services or even price anymore, they’re actually interested in what the brand has to say and with lots of big issues in the world at the moment, now is the perfect opportunity for brands to be an engine for good and make positive changes.
Fiona believes that every brand should have a purpose, but not every brand needs a social purpose. It’s not for specific sectors or verticals but more about the decision the brand makes itself. Some things to consider for a social purpose are brand heritage, what’s your brand’s beliefs and values, this should come from the bigger brand strategy and be seen in everything you do. If you think of ways to use this creatively it can be a really strong business tool.
Nathalie added ‘there are various versions of what they call the ‘hedgehog’ to help you find a way to identify purpose and is also worth applying to yourself as a communicator’. The hedgehog combines what you are passionate abut, what the world needs and what you can sell.
It’s important to regularly check in with your colleagues and employees to ensure that the strategy is working. Some things you might want to consider are preconceptions or misconceptions, what success looks like, what’s held you back and how can you get there? And as Fiona concluded ‘Have fun with it! Being authentic is really important, make sure it’s at the heart of your strategy’.