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I do not expect the extensive research process I have described to always be called for or budgeted. But,
it is important to be educated about your client before producing
creative work on behalf of your client -- trust me, your work will be
much better for it.
Most creative work is an attempt to offer solutions to problems. So, it is only logical to determine what the problems are.
It has been said that there aren’t really any problems -- only
solutions. But, in order to find solutions you need to find
opportunities… and in order to find opportunities, you need to define
the problems [it’s a vicious cycle].
If problems are the “clouds,” opportunities are the “silver linings”
(sorry if I’m beating a dead horse). So, the next leg of our journey
will be -- you guessed it -- the “Problem/Opportunity Analysis.”
(Yeah... I learned that in business school.)
doing the research and writing the situation analysis you should be
able to make a list of six to eight viable problems that you are facing.
This is not as easy as it may seem. I have often asked others
(including clients) to give me a list of what they consider to be the
marketing problems they are facing. I usually get a mish-mash of
convoluted ideas -- you see, the ability to think in a structured,
precise and "strategically correct" manner requires experience,
discipline and solid facts. [This could answer the time-honored
question of why they make you study algebra, calculus and statistics in
college.] At any rate, it can be useful to know what your client thinks
the problems are -- sometimes they even get it right. ;-)
Nevertheless, the problem identification component of the strategic
plan is crucial. Every strategic decision you make from this point
forward is going to hinge on defining the problems clearly and
accurately (still beating that dead horse to a pulp.)
The next task is to turn the problems into a workable list of opportunities.
The opportunities will be the beginning of the creative journey -- the
building blocks of your creative platform. Opportunities make up the
“launching pad” for all subsequent creative decisions -- including
defining your target market, your mission, objectives, positioning
statement, unique selling proposition, and all the other strategic and
tactical factors to consider in writing the “creative brief” – the
roadmap for a successful creative journey.