Strategy in a World of DIY


The other day we noticed that one of our favorite web-based design software makers had released another new, neat tool for design for people to freely create a variety of standard kinds of marketing items. It definitely looks awesome and easy to use! It also got us to thinking about how many tools are available for people to create and how sophisticated these themes, templates, and tools have become.

However, the ease of this DIY design does raise a question: In a world where someone can make nearly any digital design with an online tool, in minutes with no training, one might wonder if creative agencies have lost some of their value.

We assert that if anything, now is the best time for people and organizations using these freely available tools to work with an agency to focus on the higher power of strategic thinking.

So what does strategy have to do with it?

Our Art Director, Amanda Anderson, said it as concisely as anyone could,

“With tools like this, anyone can make a satisfactory widget. Our role at Sutherland Weston is to do more than simply make widgets – we produce darn good, well-thought-out widgets that are part of a comprehensive plan.  “Think vs. Do” and all that. It’s key.”

The mindset of thinking first and doing after is important when considering strategic work. Ideally, everything should fit into an action plan best suited for your needs, problems, and goals rather than frantically checking off tasks. In a strategic partnership, the end-game becomes the focus, upheld by identifying needs and structuring attainable goals. It’s all about the question, “What are we going to do and how are we going to do it?”

It’s ingrained and almost instinctual, Brad Labree, account manager, noted that, “In a world where our phones have the ability to shoot quality video, the difference is in the approach and plan, and that’s where our team of expert visual storytellers really shine.”

A Facebook campaign won’t solve a problem if it’s not created to kickstart a solution. A radio ad with expensive placement may fall on deaf ears. The best flyer won’t meet a need that’s poorly defined to start. Beautiful design that lacks critical content to move and motivate the viewer is more like a digital knickknack.

So What Is Strategic Marketing?

Strategic marketing, in addition to asking “why” and synthesizing the answers, can increase both message and design consistency.

It’s about identifying the audience, understanding them, finding where they are, and then speaking to them in their own language.

It’s about ensuring that the content of those beautiful pieces, no matter who produces them, is going to be effective as possible.

It’s about creating systems to automate content delivery and attract a wider and interested audience.

It’s about building influence in your areas of expertise.

And sometimes strategy is about stepping back, assessing where you are, and deciding what stories you want to define your business or organization moving forward. This might mean subtle changes to language, tone, and presentation or a whole rebranding campaign.

Working with a strategic partner helps to keep your marketing on task, goals in sight, and on budget.

So in a world where you can, indeed, select an online design service for nearly every possible bit of material there is an even greater need to help clients achieve results through consistency and strategy.

And while we enjoy the “Do” part, it’s the “Think” where we all feel we make the biggest difference.