When and Why do you need Strategy?

Kind of a big question. And if you're a strategist, it comes up a lot. Or if you're a designer, or a writer. Or someone starting or shifting or questioning.

Recently on a potential project with Katie, a rad collective collaborator who just started her own studio (Yay, Katie), the question of "why do I need strategy" came up. In fact, said future client said, "Can't I just get a manifesto?" Um, no...because how in the world can we give you a manifesto if you don't know what you stand for. And in this case, and often, though not always, that kind of question means you haven't figured out some really important things yet. Or asked yourself some rather deep questions.

So, instead of sending a deck with examples from other brands, the kind of thing that would ultimately not answer the question of why they, in particular, need strategy, I...

Hold please, for a mid-thought musing:
By the way, how many times are we tempted to send or show our work, knowing full well we're giving away intellectual property. And not knowing if it will tell the story we need it to tell to open the door to strategy with this new friend.
Ok, back to this particular situation. 

For context, I was at Steep Brew in Whole Foods in Potrero, brewing steeply over a spicy chai, after a YayStorm  (that's a brainstorm with extra yay) with another client, and a conversation with Katie about how we could answer this question, and right after a super fun and enlivening encounter with a stranger (more on that in a future post). Wondering how could I answer that question in the next hour or so. So I just started thinking about it. When and why do you need strategy? And how can you know? And what if I answered the question with questions? Because, in strategy, at least in my particular experience, It always starts with questions. The more probing the better. Head tilting even (as an old friend and rad ECD from Mortar used to say). And these are some of my favorite ones (there are more, and sometimes less). Suffice to say, this is a pretty quick way to see if you need some clarifying and distilling or simply the perspective of someone who's done this once or twice -- someone who doesn't live inside your four walls or drink the same La Croix flavor as you do.

When and Why do you need Strategy?

Have you asked or answered any of the below questions? More than once? Yay! Do you know what you want to do with that wondrously insightful knowledge? And Why? Yay! Get on out of here and get on with it.

Or take just a few minutes to read this. Something could spark in you. And maybe you’ll be looking for a way to go both higher and deeper. Or for someone to talk to. Go on, say yay!

You might need Strategy…

If your Why has not been surfaced or articulated at the highest and most emotional level. 

If you haven’t asked yourself "Why you are really doing this?" And asked and answered exactly Why you care so much.

If you haven’t articulated the heart, mind and world space you’re meant to fill.

If you don’t know how the world and the world of your audiences will be different, better, kinder, gentler, sweeter, radder, more awesome, or more promising when you fill that space.

If you don’t know the single most important thing you want people to know. And Why you want people to know that. And Why they should care.

If you don’t know who you are. And who you are not.

If you do a lot of looking out side-view mirrors and fancy backup cameras at what your competitors are doing, but you don’t know how and Why you’re really different from your competitors in ways that will really matter and resonate with your audiences.

If you do know your Why and yet your messaging doesn’t follow or deliver on your Why. Or you’ve lost your center or wandered off course and don’t know how to get back.

If your messaging is not connecting with your key audiences. Or you say, "wait, who are my my key audiences?" And by audiences, we mean real people, not made-up personas.

If you haven’t talked to your key audiences about what really matters to them. Really? Do it. Promise it won’t hurt. Well, it might, just a little bit, but it will be so illuminating. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. Because the truth is out (and in) there. Really.

If your elevator pitch needs a really tall building. Or on that really long elevator ride, people don’t light up, choke up or jump up. Or they turn away and stare at the wall.

If you want to talk it out, walk about or ride in that elevator together, say yay!