Strategy comes first in the formula

19179086 I’m the first to advocate great creative.  If your marketing materials are boring or just like everyone else’s, you’re going to get lost in the shuffle.  Strong, memorable creative can make your ad pop off the page or your brochure be the first one they reach for.  But, way too many marketers leap right to the creative execution.  Who can blame them – it’s fun.

But, you have to lay your foundation first. The foundation of any marketing piece is the strategy.  Do you understand your audience and why they would want your product/service?  Do you know what your key message is?   

When it comes to crafting your message, there’s an easy formula to make sure you’re helping your potential buyer understand why they should buy. 

Problem/Want:  This is how you get their attention.  Show them that you understand their problem or their want.   Use vivid language to remind them of how troublesome the problem can be.  Or how cool they’d feel if they got their want.  You want them to recognize themselves and their pain in your ad.  If they don’t know they have a problem — they are not going to be in the market for a solution.

Solution: Once they know that you understand their concerns, they’re ready to hear how you can help them solve their problem or satisfy that itch they have.  Explain how they will benefit from your solution.  What will it change for them?  How will life be easier, better, cheaper, smarter, etc.?  Paint a picture with your words.

Here’s where you really have to understand how you are different from the competition.  Don’t use the same old tired arguments and language.  If you can’t differentiate yourself…don’t waste the money on the ad or brochure or website or whatever!

Call to action:  Don’t make it hard for them to buy. Make your communication compelling.  Give them both a reason and a method to act immediately.  A number to call.  A URL to visit.  A special bonus if they buy within a certain amount of time.

Pretty simple, right?  But look through the paper or listen to the radio.  Most of the advertisers out there are missing the boat.  Hopefully your competition is among them! 

Now, you obviously can communicate the problem and solution in many creative ways.  You don’t have to be blatant with the formula itself.  But…if they don’t know they’ve got a problem or you don’t make them a little hungrier for that want, you’re sunk.

Follow this easy formula and you’ll already be ahead of the pack.

3 comments on “Strategy comes first in the formula

  1. Eamon says:


    Another interesting and useful article as usual.

    ‘But, way too many marketers leap right to the creative execution. Who can blame them – it’s fun’

    – I think that the creative process isn’t just a lot more successful when you first do your groundwork for it but it is even a lot more enjoyable.

    ‘Do you understand your audience and why they would want your product/service? Do you know what your key message is?’

    – fundamental, and yet so easy to neglect for all sorts of reasons.

    Eamon – Account Planner

  2. Eamon,

    People want to be successful with their marketing but if they don’t know any better — they gravitate to what they know or what they think sounds fun.

    Which can spell disaster to their efforts!


  3. Chaim says:

    The iformation you provided is great, If you can make a word or pdf template, to fill out before a a new project, it would be great.

    I sat down and worked with this information for a new company marketing kit, and found that after really uderstanding the audiance, and why they would want my product or servics, it was all the same as the solution. Am i missing somthing?

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