Brand Creative strategy, Message Strategy, Media Strategy20th June 2020
It is important to examine the concept of creativity, how it applies to marketing communication, and the challenge firms face in developing creative and effective marketing communication.
Creativity is one of the most commonly used terms in marketing communication as those who develop marketing communication messages are often referred to as “creative types” and agencies develop reputations for their creativity. So much attention is focused on the concept of creativity because the major challenge given to those who develop marketing communication messages is to be creative. Creativity has been defined as “a quality possessed by persons that enables them to generate novel approaches in situations, generally reflected in new and improved solutions to problems.”
Perspectives of Marketing Communication Creativity
Perspectives of what constitutes creativity in marketing communication vary. At one extreme are those who argue that marketing communication is creative only if it sells the product. At the other end of the continuum are those who judge creativity in terms of its artistic or aesthetic value and argue that creative marketing communication must be novel, original and unique. The answer as to what constitutes creative in marketing communication is probably somewhere between these two extreme positions.
We are concerned with marketing communication creativity which refers to “the ability to generate fresh, unique and appropriate ideas that can be used as solutions to communications problems.” This perspective recognises that creative marketing communication ideas are those that are novel, original and appropriate. To be appropriate a creative idea must be relevant or have some importance to the target audience.
Planning Creative Strategy
Those who work on the creative side of marketing communication often face a real challenge. They must take all the research, creative briefs, strategy statements, communication objectives and other inputs and transform them into a marketing communication message. Their job is to write copy, design layouts and illustrations and produce commercials that communicate effectively. Marketers usually hire marketing communication agencies to develop and implement their marketing communication campaigns because they are specialists in the creative function of marketing communication. However, it is important to point out that the development of creative strategy also involves representatives from the client side and other people in the agency as well as the creative staff.
The Creative Challenge
Those who work on the creative side of marketing communication have the responsibility of developing an effective way of communicating the marketer’s message to their customers. The creative person or team is often provided with a great deal of input and background information on the target audience, such as their lifestyles, needs and motives, and communication objectives. However, every marketing situation is different and requires a unique approach.
Taking Creative Risks
Many creative people in agencies argue that they often follow proven approaches or formulas when creating ads because they are safe and less likely to fail. They note that their clients are very often risk averse and feel uncomfortable with marketing communication that is too different. It is important to note that companies who have very creative marketing communication are more willing to assume some risk. However, many managers are more comfortable with marketing communication that is straight forward in communicating with customers and gives them a reason to buy.
It is a fairly common perception that those individuals who work on the creative side of marketing communication tend to be somewhat unique and different from those working on the managerial or business side. It is worthwhile to discuss some of the characteristics of creative personnel in marketing communication and the need to create an environment that fosters, and is conducive to, the development of creative marketing communication.
The Creative Process
A number of marketing communication people have argued that creativity in marketing communication is best viewed as a process and that creative success is most likely when some organized approach is followed. While most marketing communication people reject and/or resist attempts to standardise creativity or develop rules or guidelines to follow, most creative people do follow some type of process when approaching the task of developing an advertisement.
The creative process contains five steps:
- Reality or verification
Inputs to the Creative Process: Preparation/Incubation/Illumination —
These models of the creative process offer an organized way of approaching an marketing communication problem. Both models stress the need for preparation or gathering of background information that is relevant to the problem as the first step in the creative process. Various types of research and information can provide input to the creative process of marketing communication at each stage. There are numerous ways the creative specialist can acquire background information that is relevant to the marketing communication problem. These include:
Background research: informal fact-finding techniques and general preplanning input. Various ways of gathering background information might be discussed. ti
Product specific research: this involves different types of studies such as attitude, market structure and positioning, perceptual mapping and psychographic studies.
Qualitative research input: techniques such as in-depth interview or focus groups with customers or ethnographic studies.
Verification/Revision: The purpose of the verification/revision stage of the creative process is to evaluate ideas that come from the illumination stage, reject any that may be inappropriate, and refine those that remain and help give them final expression.
Some of the techniques used at this stage include:
Pretesting of ads in storyboard or aniamatic form
Creative Strategy Development
The creative process of marketing communication is guided by specific goals and objectives and requires the development of a creative strategy or plan of action for achieving the goal. Creative strategy development actually begins with a thorough assessment of the marketing and promotional situation and a determination of what needs to be communicated to the marketer’s target audience. Creative strategy should, however, also be based on a number of other factors that are stated in the creative or copy platform.
Copy Platform: A copy platform provides a plan or checklist that is useful in guiding the development of an marketing communication message or campaign. This document is prepared by the agency team or group assigned to the account and may include creative personnel as well as the account coordinator and representatives from media and research. The marketing communication manager and/or the marketing and product manager from the client side will also be involved in the process and must approve the copy platform.
Marketing Communication Campaigns
Most advertisements are part of a series of messages that make up an marketing communication campaign which consists of multiple messages, often in a variety of media that center on a single theme or idea. The determination of the central theme, idea, position, or image is a critical part of the creative process as it sets the tone or direction for the development of the individual ads that make up the campaign.
The Search for the Major Selling Idea
An important part of creative strategy development is determining the central theme that will become the major selling idea or big idea for the ad campaign. There are several different approaches that can be used for developing major selling ideas and as the basis of creative strategy. Some of the best known and most discussed approaches include:
The unique selling proposition
This concept, which was mentioned in the opening vignette, is described in Rosser Reeve’s Reality in Marketing communication. It’s three characteristics include:
- Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer
- The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot or does not offer
- The proposition must be strong enough to pull over new customers to your brand
Creating a brand image
Some competing brands are so similar it is difficult to find or create a unique attribute or benefit so the creative strategy is based on the development of a strong, memorable identity for the brand through image marketing communication.
Finding the inherent drama
Leo Burnett believed marketing communication should be based on a foundation of consumer benefits with an emphasis on the dramatic element in expressing these benefits.
The basic idea is that marketing communication is used to establish or “position” the product or service in a particular place in the consumer’s mind.
These approaches to determining the major selling ideas discussed above are very popular and are often used as the basis of the creative strategy for marketing communication campaigns. These creative approaches represent specific “creative styles” that have become associated with some of the most successful marketing communication creative minds and their agencies. However, it should be pointed out that many other creative approaches and styles are available and are often used in marketing communication. The challenge to the creative team is to find a major selling idea and use it as a guide to the development of an effective creative strategy.
Message design and positioning
Message is the idea or other information that the marketer wishes to convey to the consumer, emphasising the importance of message design.
Ogilvy said, “my original magic lantern started with the assertion that positioning and promise were more than half the battle.” True, but spotting the uniqueness or association of the product that will help the advertiser and win a place in the consumer’s mind isn’t easy. An excellent example of brand positioning is Maggi instant noodles. In his book Brand Positioning, Subrato Sengupta describes this success:
“Through consumer research, the company (Food Specialities Limited) felt that the most profitable position (for Maggi) would be as a tasty, instant snack, made at home and initially aimed at children. The target market was the in-home segment of the very substantial snack category. This positioning decision automatically determined the competition which included all snack products in general. These would range from ready to eat snacks biscuits, wafers and peanuts to ready prepared snacks such as samosas. All were bought out items.”
“Traditional pasta products (Chinese noodles and macroni) were considered to be near. Competitors forming a rapidly growing product group. But they were invariably used for meals, requiring a fair amount of cooking time and garnishing was essential.”
“Maggi Noodles was launched in Delhi in January 1983 and it became an overnight success.” The reasons? Maggi Noodles, as market results show, found a vacant strong position and sat on it as “the good to eat, fast to cook anytime snack.”
Message Design and Marketing Objectives
A message is the thought, ideas, attitude, image or other information that the sender wishes to convey to the intended audience. The marketer’s objectives tend to vary with audience. Objectives in communicating with consumers, for example, may be one or all of the following:
- Informing them what is for sale
- Creating brand awareness,
- Getting them to buy the product
- Reducing their uneasiness after the purchase is made.
The marketer’s objective with intermediary customers is to get them to stock the product; with other manufacturers, to get them to buy the product and use it to make their own. In tourism, the message may have more objectives like promoting a destination, building an image for the whole country, conveying the distinctive features of the product or service, etc.
Senders must also know their audiences’ characteristics in terms of education, interests needs, and realms of experience. They must then, endeavour to encode or phrase their message in such away that they will fall within the consumers’ zones of understanding and familiarity.
For example, AB group of Hotels has mainly targeted the business class in the advertisements which features that all the requirements of the guests are met unobtrusively. The message conveyed is that AB hotels understand the needs of business traveller better than any other hotel.
Media strategy can be defined as the usage of an appropriate media mix in order to achieve desired and optimum outcomes from the advertising campaign. It plays a key role in advertising campaigns. The objective of Media Strategy is not just about procuring customers for their product or services but also focusses on placing a right message towards the right people at the right time and ensuring that the message is relevant and persuasive. Media Strategy is designed to achieve the above mentioned target but the budget is always kept in mind.
Every work to be done needs a plan of action so that the work is done in a desired and correct manner. Media Strategy plays a very important role in Advertising. The role of Media Strategy is to find out the right path to transfer or say deliver the message to the targeted customers.
How many people see or hear or read all the advertisements or promotional offers and buy the product or service? The basic intention of media strategy is not only procuring customers for their product but also placing a right message to the right people on the right time and of course that message should be persuasive and relevant. So, here the planners of the organization decide the Media Strategy to be used but keeping the budget always in mind.
There are three “W”s to be decided. They are:-
Where to advertise?
The question is to find out where the advertisement should be displayed to the current and prospective customers. The common available options are – TV, radio, newspapers, blogs, hoardings on roads, sponsorships, ads during breaks in theatres, etc. It can be done at international/national/state/city level as per the requirement of the brand.
When to advertise?
The timing of advertisement is very critical especially with respect to the seasonal products. There is no point in airing advertisement for room heaters in summer season. It should be aired right at the end of monsoon and beginning of winter season.
Which type of media to use?
It is very important to use a correct media type for delivering the message. There are two basic media approaches which can be adopted:
(i) Media Concentration approach
In this approach, firms concentrate their campaigns only on a few media types (generally two or three) in order to reach their target consumers instead of using a wide variety of media types.
(ii) Media Dispersion Approach
In media dispersion approach a wide variety of different media categories is employed to reach the target customers. It is employed when the entire target market can’t be reached by a few media types.