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How to be a Strategist

Over the next two weeks we will be posting a series of ‘How to’ interviews with our lovely Wunderman employees who have kindly agreed to be grilled on their roles, their lives and their experiences to date.

To kick us off we are joined by Stacey Neumann on ‘How to be a Strategist’.

Tell us about what your job involves?

Finding out why people care to be interested in brands; a lot of the job involves researching and finding nuances with particular demographics, finding out what makes them tick, the white space that exists amongst competitors and figuring out clever ways to gain share of voice with their marketing schedules.

Another side of the job is deeply routed in analytics – using data to understand consumer behaviours; from media consumption, SEO, device preference, market specifics etc.

It’s about keeping on top of trends and seeing creative and strategic opportunity and being able to deliver it via a compelling story so your client feels confident that creative is routed in strategic insight.

How did you get to where you are now?

I started my career in media, and when I did some projects with the head of strategy at PHD, I remember thinking that I wanted to do what he did – as it leveraged the insights from numbers but still allowed for deep creative thinking.

I then spent a few years at a small creative agency and helped build a strong digital and social offering for our clients.  It was here that I gained a really good understanding all the cogs in the advertising chain, and again I was inspired by more creative endeavours, so I started studying graphic design at nights.

After my studies, I was hungry to travel so I headed to NYC and landed up helping a friend with the marketing and branding of her swimwear start-up and then jetted off again and moved to London.

After a few years dabbling in all facets of marketing, I knew I needed to pursue the strategic path with more rigour, and that’s when my feet landed on Wunderman’s doorstep.

What are the biggest challenges and how do you overcome them? 

I think my biggest challenge is changing my mind about what it is I want to do when I grow up! After working for both big and small agencies, start-ups and freelancing, I’ve realised that it is important to have some focus, and harness what you are good at and roll with that.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I am naturally curious, and my travels and interest in art & culture has always kept my mind ticking, and that overflows into my job.  I find working in strategy incredibly interesting, and am constantly inspired by people, their stories, emotional connections, experiences, research studies and trends.

I find insights come from the incessant information hunting I do, and it not only compliments my natural inquisitive nature, but also my work.

What characteristics do you need to do your job?

A curious mind, willing to push boundaries and inspire clients.

How do you think your job will evolve over the next few years?

I hope to see creative strategists or visual strategists emerge as a role that works closely with creative and data scientists.  I hope to see a more collaborative process whereby departments merge and integrate with each other on a daily basis.

How are you adapting for this change?

I’m making sure I push for collaborative working and understand different skill sets and explore how passions and hobbies can be brought into the strategic process… you never know where inspiration can come from!

What would you recommend to anyone thinking of doing what you do?

Get a foot in the door, experience all aspects of the industry so you have a deeper understanding of every role and its purpose.  There are so many avenues you can take in advertising, so try, test and see what works for you and find projects that interest and challenge you.  Nothing is wasted learning (even if at the time it doesn’t feel that way). I also think it’s important to travel, and explore cultures, art and film and continue to be inspired by everything around you.