Five tips to integrate production and strategy in marketing campaigns

Sonya Karafistan, production consultant at RedWorksWhen it comes to executing a successful global marketing campaign, brands can invest huge amounts of money and time developing the work only to find it that it fails on point of delivery due to a poorly unified strategy.

Regardless of geography or media, every piece of brand communication should resonate with equal impact. Separating global and local strategic input from procurement of production could mean your communication misses the mark when it comes to engaging consumers. Ensuring communication is fit for purpose requires collaboration between brand strategists and those responsible for campaign rollout. By integrating production and strategy from communication inception, businesses will achieve brand consistency, process efficiencies and production savings.

What is the status quo when it comes to production?

All production processes involve a series of links in a production chain where value is added at each stage. Adding value is not just about the manufacturing, but also about the marketing process, advertising, promotion and distribution that make the final product more desirable. A significant issue for many companies is that while the initial creative production is often created by a global agency team with high production and creative values, it is regularly overseen by a procurement/ cost-controller who may have very little dialogue with the client’s brand team. Balancing the need for value in production spend with communication ambition is critical.

This initial gap in communication can lead to further issues when it comes to the rollout of the campaign and the work is handed over to a production team that is completely detached from the strategic process. Companies need to alter how they view the production chain. It should not be seen as a supplementary factor at the end of the process, but instead should be treated as the visualisation of the cumulative strategic process.

Decoupling the production process and managing each stage separately is becoming more popular for brands as they look to take back control from their lead agencies. The language around the benefits of decoupling production is now well worn; we know it can significantly reduce production spend, improve speed to market, allow global brand teams to re-deploy media budget and invest in burgeoning channels while providing visibility of what their brand is doing around the world.

Finding the right partner who can provide a proportionate service that mirrors and supports work with global, regional and local teams to enable locally relevant communication is critical. If brands fail at the last communication hurdle (local delivery) the cost to the brand is significantly higher than simply failing to engage with consumers: it’s a waste of global agency and production spend.

Why production shouldn’t sit in isolation from strategy

Businesses need to understand that production is not just a deliverable tactic; it is the delivery of strategy. Knowing whether something is possible before you start can help ensure the whole campaign delivers against its objectives. By integrating production with strategy from the outset ensures brand values are much easier to maintain since everything can be structured to ensure brand consistency across all areas of communication.

Savings can also be realised further up the chain, not just at production. Involving strategic partners in all locations, across all channels, at strategy inception stage is critical. Too often key decision-makers are excluded from strategy development. Identifying and streamlining this group is a good start. There are equivalent efficiencies to be realised at every stage of the process.

5 tips to help integrate production and strategy from the outset:

1.    Involve key local market stakeholders from the outset; they are key strategic partners that can give you significant insight into the market.

2.    Ensure there is absolute clarity about the budget for production. It should always form part of the brief to the agency. Both the creative and media agencies should also be aware of any budget restrictions so they can work together to identify the most appropriate communication vehicle.

3.    Talk to your agency and challenge them to review internal processes and how they manage global communication development.

4.     Once a media neutral campaign has been decided on, work with a cross-channel production team to establish the most efficient way of originating rollout.

5.     Ensure your timelines include reasonable allowances for production - if you run out of time you will end up paying more.

☛ Sonya Karafistan is production consultant at RedWorks.

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