Creative Strategy in Animation: Part 2 – How To Create a Strategy
In part 1 of this series we talked about why strategy is important for animation. Now in the second part of this 3 part series, i’m going to talk about how to create a strategy to use on animation projects.
Now I’m going to talk a little about putting together a strategy. This will probably sound difficult at first, but the key is knowing what you’re looking for and asking the right questions to get you the information you need to be able to make the right decisions during production.
It’s important to note that with strategy, there’s no templated solution that will answer every business’s problem. Even two companies in the same industry with the same revenue would need a different strategy. That’s because they have different problems to solve, different goals and different metrics they’re working with.
It all starts with a conversation. Not spec work, not a pitch and no presumptions. No matter how confident you are that you can make something that looks great, you must make sure you completely understand your client’s audience, their business goals and the expected financial impact before going into production. You do that so you can be more sure that you’re truly making the right decisions to help your client grow their investment.
Know the audience
Your client’s audience plays a big role in strategy because they’re essentially the end user you’re creating for. You want to make sure you completely understand their current audience, their target audience and what problems your client’s product is helping them with. Normally, I spend a bit more than half the time during strategy sessions just understanding this one thing.
Know the goals
One of the other 3 focuses is a client’s goal. This is really big for understanding the expectations of working together. You’ll likely have to ask WHY or HOW quite a bit here to really get to the bottom of how you can help them reach their goal. It’s important you can say simply in a single sentence what they want or need to happen.
For example, maybe they’ll say,
“I have a new product that I want to introduce”,
You say “How are you planning on doing that specifically?”.
They might respond with, “email marketing”.
You say “Why email marketing?”.
“Because we have a list of 10,000 subscribers that have signed up on our site for more information”
You say, “great, having an effective landing page with an animation is a great way to convert sales from email”
Then, “Converting 1% of an email list to sales would be average for a great campaign, about how many sales do you expect to make?”
They might say, “We haven’t really thought about it, but 1% would be 100 sales, that would be fantastic”
And there’s the goal of the project. It’s ok if you help them find a goal, but they should be clearly on board to call it the “official” goal to base decisions on.
It’s really important to note that there should only be ONE goal in every animation. One of the biggest problems with video or animation is that people want to pack in as much info as they can, but it’s not realistic to reach several goals at the same time. The simpler the message the easier it is to remember.
Know the financial impact
The last part of a strategy is understanding the financial impact of working together. Let’s take those 100 sales from before, by simply asking, how much each customer is worth to them, you can find out what they’d stand to gain from reaching their goal.
If the average customer buys $200 worth of products, then the total amount to be gained would be $20,000. As long as your animation costs less than $20,000, this makes financial sense. If however they only make $1 per sale from those 100 sales, they’d only stand to gain $100. If they paid you $10,000 to make that happen, the project would be an absolute failure no matter how beautiful it was. If a client can’t see a growth on their investment, you should NOT take on the project because that would be borderline theft.
Some other questions that I ask to create a strategy is:
Describe your product or service?
Explain any current branding and your positioning in the market.
How is your product or service unique?
How many people purchase online and in-store?
How many weekly sales do you currently make?
Describe the demographics, psychographics, behaviors and geographics of your audience.
What problem do you solve for customers?
This is just a few, there’s probably 25-50 more questions I ask based on where conversations go. It’s really all about listening and trying to uncover the information that will help you make their project successful.
Sometimes you get into this strategy process and find that they don’t need an animation, they need a web site or some kind of change to the way they’re actually doing business. A couple years back, I was talking with a potential client and found that they had too many problems in their business for something high level like animation to help them. I walked away from thousands of dollars and left with the advice of talking with Fedex to resolve their inconsistent shipping costs. When you specialize in an area like animation, that doesn’t mean animation is always the answer. Instead, you should always be listening and trying to find if and where it can fit in their business. If animation is NOT the answer, it’s your responsibility to tell them so. No matter how hard that might be.
Once you have all the information you need for the strategy, it’s then time to put together “the map”. This could also be called the brief. You essentially want to put together a document that is constantly looked at to answer all questions throughout production by everyone involved in the process. There’s really no one specific way to put one of these together, but it should be relatively short, clear and include all information you believe to be important in reaching the client’s goal.