Blog Insight

Essential Cuts: Strategy

No rogues, no tangents, no unmoored activities. GLG Chief Strategy Officer Adam LeVasseur shares essential advice on the role of strategy in directing marketing activities and measuring their effectiveness, plus three steps brands can take to transform the customer experience.

Adam's Perspective

I have a business background, so one of the things that I focus on is making sure that all the work we’re doing for our clients actually snaps to some broader business goal that the client’s trying to achieve. So a lot of times, I take creative work and try to put numbers to it so we can make sure it’s driving results.

The Goal of Strategy

For me, strategy is actually a pretty simple concept. At the same time, for a lot of people, it can be murky or undefined or unclear, but really, strategy as I think about it is just a clear plan to achieve a desired outcome. Right? And so, to put a plan like that together, you have to know what you’re trying to achieve, and that’s where it starts to get fuzzy. A lot of organizations out there with marketing teams and budgets have long lists of activities and things they’re doing and money they’re spending on different programs, but they don’t always have really clear objectives and clear outcomes that they’re trying to drive. So the goal of strategy is to make sure you start with the end in mind, and you build the plan that actually drives the results you’re trying to achieve.

Customer Experience Transformation

Central to most business challenges is a client’s ability to attract, retain, and drive loyalty with their customers, right? And customers interact with brands across a variety of different touch points, whether it’s the advertising they see out in the wild, whether it’s the website they visit, whether it’s the interaction with a service representative on the phone, whether it’s the postpurchase product return process, right? Those are all part of the customer experience, and not all of those work as well as they should. So when we think about the customer experience and transforming it, we look at the entire customer journey, and look for those top opportunities to drive a better experience for the customer and go after those problems. We have a variety of techniques, tools, skills, or services we bring to bear on that. But ultimately, it’s about putting the customer at the center of the discussion and making sure that all the efforts that we put our programs around are designed to improve that experience. So we break down that process into three distinct phases. First, insights, where we baseline the current state. Then we come up with a revolutionary vision for the future, something completely new and different that’s really going to change our client’s business. And then lastly, we come up with an execution plan.

Foundational Insight

So for that insights phase, from a customer perspective, we want to understand who they are, how well they’re known, how many there are in the market, what are the different segments or personas that our clients are targeting. We bring different tools to bear on that to help profile that. We also look at the competitive space, so what are key competitors doing to reach those same customers? But we also look at what’s happening inside the company—what’s their mission, what’s their vision, what’s their organizational maturity, how is their marketing organization structured, what systems are they using, what technology platforms are they on—to help understand where they are today, which then informs the vision that we build for the future.

Creating a New Vision

So with that great foundational insight established, we can then lean on our creatives and our UX designers and our writers to really start to brainstorm the white space in the market and opportunities to improve that customer experience. At the same time, we take a hard look at people, process, and technology inside the organization to build out a roadmap to build new systems and processes, implement new technologies to actually service that new customer experience.

Bringing It to Life

So the third phase is when we actually bring it to life, and we call that the execution phase. So we take the customer vision, we take our great understanding of how that experience is going to be different, we take our technology, people, process, org design, roadmap, and we actually put it into place. And we have an amazing team of delivery managers, and everything is backed up with an analytics plan so we can actually measure the progress and deliver the results on time, defect-free, in a way that moves the needle for the business.

The Value of Customer Personas

Sometimes our clients run really tight schedules, right? We’re practical; we right-size solutions to what the client needs. If they need creative out the door in three weeks, we can turn that really quickly. In all cases, though, that can be improved, or made better, or made more impactful with some customer insights that underlies it, that informs that creative expression based on some customer truth. So when we can, and we like to, we like to actually go back upstream and understand the consumer and competitive landscape to really know what message is going to land, or how a brand should be expressed to make that work better downstream. So the more time we have to do that work, the greater impact we can have in the creative work that we put in market.

Keep asking, “What’s next?”

So if I had to boil it down, when we’re starting to work with a client, what I like strategy to do is help ask the bigger question. Often, clients come with a very specific thing they want, but I want to put it in the context of something broader that’s really going to move the needle on the business for them. So that’s happening while the project’s going on, and if we do that well, it’s going to lead to fantastic results, and we’re going to feel great at the end of a project. Then the next question is, well, what’s next? Right? And how do we go do that again, and how do we actually take their business to even the next level?