The Whole Idea by DCG ONE

How We Use Strategy to Create Impactful Campaigns

November 08, 2023 Adam LeVasseur Season 1 Episode 1
How We Use Strategy to Create Impactful Campaigns
The Whole Idea by DCG ONE
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The Whole Idea by DCG ONE
How We Use Strategy to Create Impactful Campaigns
Nov 08, 2023 Season 1 Episode 1
Adam LeVasseur

In this episode of The Whole Idea by DCG ONE, host Greg Oberst, Senior Writer, chats with Adam LeVasseur, DCG ONE’s SVP of Strategy about how we leverage strategy and analytics to make creative work more impactful.
To read the full blog that was referenced in today's strategy episode, CLICK HERE.

Other links you may like to check out:

About us -
Strategy -
Technology -
The Agency -
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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of The Whole Idea by DCG ONE, host Greg Oberst, Senior Writer, chats with Adam LeVasseur, DCG ONE’s SVP of Strategy about how we leverage strategy and analytics to make creative work more impactful.
To read the full blog that was referenced in today's strategy episode, CLICK HERE.

Other links you may like to check out:

About us -
Strategy -
Technology -
The Agency -
Let's connect!

Email us:

Check us out on social media:
LinkedIN, Instagram, Facebook

Air date: November 8, 2023

Transcript: The Whole Idea by DCG ONE

Episode: How we use strategy to create impactful campaigns

Greg (00:04):

Welcome to the Whole Idea Podcast by DCG ONE. Here we tap experience for insight from marketing, technology, and creativity experts at the agency across DCG ONE and from our many partners with whom we create solutions that are memorable and meaningful. I'm your host, Greg Oberst, senior writer at the agency, and speaking of experts, my guest today is Adam LeVasseur, senior vice president of Strategy here at DCG ONE. Welcome Adam.

Adam (00:32):

Thanks, Greg. It's fun to be here.

Greg (00:33):

Yeah, great to have you. This episode was inspired by your recent blog post on DCG titled “How strategy and Analytics Make our Creative Work even More Impactful,” and I take it by the word “creative” in your title there, that strategy is referred to it in this context is about campaign or brand strategy, but I'm also wondering can it apply to other types of strategy, business strategy or others?

Adam (01:01):

Yeah, let me unpack that a little bit. I've noticed in my career that strategy can mean a lot of different things and it kind of depends on the organization that it's used in, what their primary objective is. And so yeah, I've been in this space for a while and I've thought about what it means to be a strategist and look after strategy in the context of a creative agency. And so ultimately I think what we're here to do is make the creative work we do even better. So how do we do that? Well, clients come to us because they want a new brand, they want a campaign, they want a website, they want some sort of user experience, but really what they're looking for ultimately is business results from that. So while we have amazing talent in the creative space, writers, designers, visual designers, etc., my role is to think about, okay, how can I support that work to drive more business impact? And fundamentally, that's what I think the role of strategy is. It's to deliver that part of the equation.

Greg (02:02):

Alright, then how does a strategy come to life then?

Adam (02:05):

Okay, well, I like to think of it from sort of an abstract idea down to very specific tools in our toolbox, right At the highest level strategy is about asking the bigger question. So when a client comes to us and asks for a very specific campaign element or a specific landing page or something pretty tactical, it's about opening the aperture on that and understanding why and how that fits into their marketing environment, how it supports their business goals. And through that exploration, really understanding what they're after. The next piece of the puzzle is that it's not just my responsibility or my team's responsibility to think that way. It's really a collective team effort. So often I find myself working with the account team and working with project managers to encourage them and support them in asking those bigger questions and being provocative. And lastly, as I mentioned, it is a specific set of tools and capabilities that we have to answer those questions and to help ultimately make the work more impactful.

Greg (03:15):

It's important that strategy is not a siloed experience and I think we'll get into that as we go through your fundamentals, but everybody's part of that execution when it gets down to it.

Adam (03:25):


Greg (03:27):

Okay, so let's unpack what you call the fundamentals of strategy starting at the three levels.

Adam (03:33):

Yeah, sure. So as I mentioned earlier, we're here the strategy discipline is here to make the creative experiences even better and even more impactful. So there are three sort of broad areas that we use to make that true. The first one is through customer and market insights, what I like to refer to as external truths. So to make sure that we're framing up the brief for the creative work we're going to do with a real understanding of the customer and the target audience. A real understanding of the competitive set that we're operating in, a real understanding of the purchase pattern and buying process, which is even more important when we're talking about our business to business clients. The second piece is to have a really clear measurement framework to understand what the key performance indicators are, what we're going to look at and evaluate on the backend to see if we've actually moved the needle.


And it's good to know that upfront because that helps drive the creative that we build. We’re taking it all the way through to a conversion event. Are we after an awareness objective for our business to business clients? Are we trying to move leads through their lead scoring funnel, etc. And then the third piece, so customer and market insights, a measurement framework, measurement, analytics. The third piece is to really dig into our client's business and their context and understand their organization and their capabilities so that we're right sizing the level of investment, understanding how they can operationalize the systems we're putting in place if it involves marketing automation or a content management system for a website, but really understanding the capacity they have to inform what we ultimately recommend. So those are the three elements of strategy, the external truth, the customer market insights, the measurement and analytics measurement framework, and then understanding the business context.

Greg (05:30):

So let's go back to customer market insights and how do you get to those insights?

Adam (05:37):

Yeah, great question. So here I like to think of small, medium, and large. And in all cases, we'll start with what I refer to as desk research where we'll look at available knowledge on a market, a company, an industry through good old Google searches or more so these days, tools like chatGPT to really frame up a landscape and what are the trends and challenges and opportunities in the given industry that our clients are playing in. So we will do that in all cases. We also love to talk to people internal to the company to learn about their goals, ambitions for the brand, what they're trying to achieve. And it really helps frame up the organizational context for the recommendations we make. In all cases, we'll do a deep review of brand assets and marketing materials, we'll do competitive analysis and then from there we can move into primary customer research. We have the ability to do both qualitative and quantitative work. Everything from one-on-one customer interviews for business clients to consumer focus groups all the way up to survey-based analytics, segmentation, choice modeling, conjoint, etc. All in the spirit of informing the work that we're going to do to help drive goals for our clients. So that's the first pillar. That's how we get at the customer and market insights.

Greg (07:11):

And then measurement and analytics, you need to know how this thing is performing and how it's tracking and if you need to make a change.

Adam (07:19):

Right. And here it's really important to look at things like what's the level of investment and making sure we understand that the return that we're going to realize through these creative experiences commensurate with the investment. And then so to do that, understanding business fundamentals, financials, understanding current marketing effectiveness and ROI, looking at the customer journey and how different touch points are performing and driving customers through the funnel from awareness to conversion. And then understanding that context allows us to build a measurement framework for whatever program we're putting in place. Whether it's a campaign to drive new eyeballs or new website visits, or whether it's a campaign to drive leads into some sort of CRM system for a business client. And then we make sure that we know what those measures are so that the creative team can go have that focus as they're building out the creative experience that leads customers there.

Greg (08:19):

Last among those three pillars is ensuring that what you're doing is aligned with the budget and the capabilities of the business.

Adam (08:25):

Right. So, in this case it's really important. Are we serving a small organization and a small marketing team of five people or less? Or are we talking hundreds of folks with very siloed in distinct responsibilities and large marketing budgets. So understanding the marketing organization, understanding their planning process, understanding their current marketing technology stack, their maturity with respect to that stack. That all helps us again put our recommendations into context. So if that's launching a new website, knowing all that is critical. So, so that involves a lot of stakeholder interviews and then enterprise architecture mapping, things like that. So that's more on the technology side, but again, it's critical foundationally to know how our stuff is going to impact the organization in the end.

Greg (09:19):

So Adam, when you sometimes talk about a mindset with clients and address this issue of strategy behind a campaign or rebrand, how do you extract the information that you need from clients or sometimes a little bit resistant to serve up what might be sensitive information or touchy subjects, especially with regard to branding. Sometimes it requires an inner look at yourself.

Adam (09:44):

That's a great insight, Greg. One measure of whether we're really helping someone strategically is the extent to which we're causing introspection or really tugging at some of these core tensions inside a company or an organization for that matter. And in that context, there are a couple of things we do to help surface that and to get people be open and transparent, spirit one-on-one interviews and encouraging people or reminding people that we're a neutral third party and that we're looking for all sorts of input to influence our recommendation. It's surprising how willing people are to open up in that environment and say, Hey, here's what, I would never say this in a big room, but I think this is one of our biggest challenges. People will be very, very transparent if that's not happening, if they're not forthcoming. There are all sorts of provocative ways you can get people to talk about what the aspirations are, have us reflect on a company that you admire and through that you will learn about maybe what they wish were different about their own situation. So their interview techniques, there are ways to be provocative while being kind and genuine to get at those sort of core tensions that we're experiencing. Like I said, good inquiry is really what it comes down to. Knowing how to draw those truths or those sensitive topics out of people through creating a comfortable environments, that's part of what we do. And sort of that first pillar around trying to extract those insights and truths.

Greg (11:28):

I've been part of some of your sessions and I've noticed also one technique that seems real effective as well is to expand the circle of input to other employees who might not typically be even part of marketing or branding, just to get their raw insight about the company that they've worked for. You get some interesting responses, sometimes unpolished, unvarnished, and that's exactly what you need.

Adam (11:52):

Absolutely. When I think of where marketing organizations sit inside their parent organizations, there's a real important partnership with sales, particularly in a business to business context. And so the sales teams who are out talking to customers and trying to move deals through a funnel have fantastic insights to help inform the marketing. And then on the other side of marketing sits the product or engineering team, the people actually delivering the thing that has the value. And so you can learn a ton about the company's why by talking to people who are on the product side and the marketing's in that interesting spot between where they have to interpret the product and present it to the market in a way that derives most value. And then downstream, certainly like I said, in a business context, there are the salespeople that have to take it through and actually present it to specific clients or accounts and drive that interest and drive that sales process. So understanding who those key stakeholders are, and then of course executive leadership above them all, who's looking at how all the dollars flow and helping set the priorities for the company.

Greg (12:57):

Yeah. Alright. Let's talk now about creative, which is the other sort of point of your article was how one informs the other strategy can help inform creative. In your view, where does creative enter the picture?

Adam (13:11):

Well, ultimately the reason clients, our clients come to DCG ONE is because we're going to deliver amazing creative experiences. So that is why people engage with us, right? Because excited of us deliver a new brand, a campaign, a website, beautiful print,


Whatever that is. So if the strategy function can support our creative people to help them be more inspired or more on target, then I feel like we're delivering our core job within the company. And so we do that through the briefing process and there's a big piece of that is helping our creatives visualize who they're designing for. So to the extent we can say this is the target persona, to help them get inside the mind of that prospective customer, that consumer, that buyer, that's one key way in which we help the creative process. The other way we help the creative process is saying, okay, this beautiful thing that you're designing and building needs to accomplish X. So think about the call to action or think about what's downstream or think about the behavior we're trying to change or the attitude we're trying to change. If we can articulate that, that's another way. That's the measurement side and the customer insight side that I think when we do it right, our creatives go like, oh, I get what the boundaries are around what I need to build. And that's how we help and that's how we support the creative process.

Greg (14:46):

I love it when you guys invite creative people into the strategy sessions early.

Adam (14:50):

And a great example of that is when let's say we know we're going to do a campaign to start with a creative team, give them an idea of who the target audience is, let the brainstorming take place and let some interesting creative concepts come out. And then we can take those creative concepts into customer validation, whether it's focus groups or one-on-one where we're looking at three different ideas to get feedback on it, right? To me, that's one of the best partnerships between creative and strategy is when we get to do that.

Greg (15:21):

That's a great point about testing your work before launch of a campaign.

Adam (15:25):

Again, the strategy is here to serve creative. That's the way I see it, right? Fundamentally, we're a creative shop and so strategy is here to support that.

Greg (15:35):

I'm going to remember you said that.

Adam (15:36):

Oh yeah, It's clear who I work for, Greg, but another fantastic example or when it works really well or things like when we're designing and building new websites and we can get to the point in the process where we have a prototype and then we can take that prototype to real users and we can have them show us their current experience and what they like and dislike. And then we can have 'em walk 'em through the prototype and then they can reflect on that and they can tell us how it's better inferior, what they like, what they don't like. And then at this point, we still haven't developed the final, we haven't launched it, but we have real tangible feedback from a user that ultimately informs the final rollout. So that's another great example.

Greg (16:22):

Sometimes the can be a little surprising to clients, but when we have the strategy there to back up and show and demonstrate how we arrived at this, there's that aha moment that we need. We need that. Buy-in the strategy really helps us justify where we went with the creative. We didn't just make this stuff up.

Adam (16:41):

For sure

Greg (16:41):

It’s based on informed creative all along the way. Alright then Adam, what's the most common mistake businesses make when it comes to strategy?

Adam (16:50):

I actually think the most common mistake when it comes to strategy is to actually not put that first in the marketing process. There are a lot of marketers and marketing departments that I call them busy marketers. They got a long list of programs. They're trying to roll out a long list of tactics, a backlog of creative that they're trying to crank out. And so I call those busy marketers, but what they seem to lack is a clear understanding, first of all, the measurement framework, right? A clear understanding of their objectives, their strategies, their tactics with measures at each stage of that. Because just having that well articulated will help prioritize all the activity. And so there are lots of cases where marketers come to us and they say, well, we're overwhelmed, we're busy, and yes, we can help with the delivery of the things they're trying to get out the door. But if they were to pause for a minute and think about, okay, let's come up with a framework to make sense of all this activity in terms of what's driving the most value, where does it live across the funnel? Put it in context, can help bring priority and focus and actually make it less busy and more effective.

Greg (18:09):

And it's a little bit dangerous in this current marketing landscape that we live now. The fast moving changes. It's hard to do a campaign without some connection to digital and digital moves so fast.

Adam (18:23):

Fundamentally, you need to know who your target customer is. You need to be able to define them. You need able to quantify 'em in the market. You need to be able to say, okay, that's a prospect when you meet 'em in the wild. And then you need to meet 'em with the right message to change the perception or move 'em through the funnel. And so all that's essential to be an effective marketer. And I think of all that as strategy.

Greg (18:46):

Adam, I really appreciate you being here today. This has been very interesting and insightful.

Adam (18:50):

My pleasure, Greg. It's been really fun being here.

Greg (18:52):

My guest on this episode of the Whole Idea Podcast has been Adam LeVasseur, senior Vice President of Strategy here at DCG ONE. Thanks again, Adam.

Adam (19:00):

Thanks for having me.

Greg (19:01):

Got questions for Adam or anything else about DCG ONE, feel free to write us at Thanks very much for listening. If you like what you've heard, give us a shout or some stars, even. The Whole Idea Podcast producers are Mandy DiCesare and Kelcie Brewer. I'm Greg Oberst. Watch this channel for our next podcast and more expertise, insight, and inspiration for Whole Idea Marketing. 

Thanks for listening.