3 Building Blocks of Marketing – Part 2: Strategic

Okay, we’re back!

The following post is a continuation of my previous post in this three-part series where I just wanted to share my personal brand mantra and why I believe that “creativity”, “strategy”, and “curiosity” should be the foundations of any budding marketing student.

So where were we?

2. Strategic

To me, strategic-thinking, is what sets apart a great marketer from just a “creative” marketer. Whatever the campaign may be, there’s always an objective – whether it’s communications (e.g. awareness, preference) or behavioral (e.g. trial, conversion), or the underlying marketing objective (e.g. market share, volume). And whatever that objective may be, there needs to be a strategy – the means to achieve that objective.

While there’s a million and a half approaches to marketing strategy, if there is one rule that I’ve learned in my four years studying and doing internships in marketing, it is the “bullsh*t test”: will your audience call “bullsh*t” on you?

What this really means is that for every “crazy creative” tactic and execution in your strategy, you need to ask yourself: Is everything we’re doing aligned with our target? Is this what they really want? Is this what they like? Is this where they will be looking?


Perfect example! Does anyone remember when Chevrolet threw a car out of a plane?

In 2011, Chevrolet launched their new Chevy Sonic, which was tailored towards the 18- to 30-year-old target segment.

The Objective?

Build awareness and consideration for the Chevy Sonic amongst millennials.

The Barrier?

Milliennials such as myself, who are first-time car buyers, looked at Chevy and just thought King of the Hill-billy. To us,  it was a brand synonymous with “gas-guzzling trucks, irrelevant and out of touch”. How could you possibly change that perception?

The Strategy?

Leverage the insight that for people our age, everything to us is a “first” right now: from first time moving out, first condo, first girlfriend, first B A+* in university, and of course, first car. Show how the Chevy Sonic is the vehicle for trying new things for the “first” time.

(* my mom likes to read my blog sometimes.)

The Creative?

The Chevrolet Sonic ‘Firsts’ Campaign: Let’s Do This (developed by Goodby Silverstein & Partners)

Why Did It Work?

Not only did this multi-phased campaign increase brand lift and consideration, but Chevrolet went on to make a Super Bowl commercial out of it. It truly shifted perceptions. As Tomorrow Awards puts it, “How do you go from “Not for me” to “F—k I want one!”?

There are several reasons why this campaign worked for me; from well-targeted media strategy to just insane creative that hit home with the target. However, at the end of the day, it is our (millennial’s) passion for first adventures that gets us excited. Keep your content true to that passion, keep it relevant to what we like, and you’ll truly engage us in an authentic way (and not just another “bullsh*t” car commercial). If you can do that in a believable way like how Chevy Sonic managed to do it, you can be sure we’ll be talking about it and spreading your message like wildfire.

So whether it was skydiving a Sonic for the first time, streaming that skydive stunt as in-stream ads during the Red Bull “Stratos” jump, or even literally letting the Internet launch the Sonic – the campaign’s seemingly random string of “crazy creative” stunts does an effective job of falling back to a single strategy that is, not only original, but well-aligned with the target.


And that, my friends, is the second reason and foundation for my passion for marketing.

Strategy gives discipline to creative ideas. Without a guiding strategy, creativity is a loose cannon. Of course, there’s other parts that go into strategy – but above all, a marketing campaign needs to make sense for who it’s meant for. Especially in this age of “Big Data”, marketers now have a plethora of tools to really understand people’s habits, interests, and activities; which makes it even more important to ensure that your “creative” is strategically aligned with your audience. What would we like and where would we want to see it?

For me, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that while creativity will always be a part of marketing, at the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves: “Did we solve the problem?”

A “yes” to that means you have a solid strategy.

“Creative. Strategic. (Stay tuned for Part 3).”

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2 thoughts on “3 Building Blocks of Marketing – Part 2: Strategic

  1. Pingback: 3 Building Blocks of Marketing – Part 3: Curious | Matthew Sison

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