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The Formidable Strategist

The Formidable Strategist

Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

May 15, 2018

Discover the traits that make up a first-rate strategist

"Strategy is choosing a way to fulfill a goal."

In this candid Q&A, Martín Pietragalla, director of strategy and product development at Havas Argentina, shows marketers how to spot the strategic opportunities that they’re missing. He also shares the traits needed to be a top-notch strategist.

 

So, how did you get started?

When I look back, I see that opposites have shaped the watershed moments in my life. I grew up in a small town outside the capital, and then I moved to the biggest city in the country. I came to Buenos Aires to study sociology at the University of Buenos Aires, and then almost at the end of my studies, I decided to switch to advertising communication at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina, a private school with a strong focus on business. My first job was at a PR consultancy; then I went to direct the business intelligence division at a creative agency.

So really, it’s by creating a conversation with the extremes that I began to find balance little by little. Each situation had its challenges, but by combining empathy and persuasion, I managed to make my own way.

How would you describe your job as a strategy director to someone who isn’t in the business?

When people ask, I tell them that my job has two key parts: first, to be a translator of the communicative needs of a brand or company and to help determine how they should respond to the needs or interests of the audience.

Second: to link what a brand offers with what a person needs. Think of it as like a train. Imagine that the brand is a train that wants to reach a destination. The routes are the brand values. The destination is the brand goal. The speed of the trip, whether advertisers arrive on time, is determined by measurable objectives: key performance indicators (KPIs).

Today all passengers on this journey are sharing lots of data—their opinions, their emotions, and their experiences. This information helps us improve our bond with customers and make the business stronger.

Give us a super simple definition of strategy.

Strategy is choosing a way to fulfill a goal. It is about finding the similarities between what a brand offers and what people want, all the while understanding the socioeconomic, political, and cultural context. It’s making decisions.

When is a strategy the most effective?

If we know the communities that we belong to, the similarities and the topics of conversation with our consumers, we will have much of the road paved. Effectiveness is directly associated with understanding the spirit of the time and how we approach the problem that we want to solve as a brand.

The first step in creating strategy effectiveness is to have an in-depth understanding of the environment and to know in detail the public interest in the proposal: their worries, their perspectives, and what attracts their attention. Then we ask ourselves: What role does the brand play in this environment? Honesty and alignment with those things, along with a strong insight, will make a strategy effective.

"But working to solve problems by using different disciplines will allow us to think of new solutions."

When is it the least effective?

Lack of empathy. If I don’t listen to the opinions of other people, I lose the strategic sense. And it’ll cost the brand a lot.

What strategic opportunities are marketers missing?

The richest opportunities are those that provide the chance to affect people in their daily lives or solve their everyday challenges. Many times we end up choosing the comfort zone. But working to solve problems by using different disciplines will allow us to think of new solutions.

What things are marketers doing well with strategy?

Whether traditional or nontraditional, almost all points of contact that connect people and brands can be tools to impact people, create conversion, and, ultimately, sell products. Also, advertisers are learning more about people’s likes and dislikes, to give each consumer a more personalized service.

Brand’s are rethinking their dynamics of business and their relationships with society. Brands that see their products as solutions of socio-environmental problems, such as the more than one million sneakers from Adidas made from ocean-recycled plastic. Others develop solutions, many that use artificial intelligence, to connect with people’s emotions and senses.

Traits that make someone a great strategist?

Curiosity, empathy, and organization. Curiosity allows us to get out of a pre-established mold, learn from others, and professionalize our point of view every day. Empathy allows us to understand others’ feelings, thoughts, and experiences. Organization helps us tell a story with a clear goal that drives us and our storytelling. I think the combination of these three factors makes a formidable strategist.

"Strategy is choosing a way to fulfill a goal."

In this candid Q&A, Martín Pietragalla, director of strategy and product development at Havas Argentina, shows marketers how to spot the strategic opportunities that they’re missing. He also shares the traits needed to be a top-notch strategist.

 

So, how did you get started?

When I look back, I see that opposites have shaped the watershed moments in my life. I grew up in a small town outside the capital, and then I moved to the biggest city in the country. I came to Buenos Aires to study sociology at the University of Buenos Aires, and then almost at the end of my studies, I decided to switch to advertising communication at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina, a private school with a strong focus on business. My first job was at a PR consultancy; then I went to direct the business intelligence division at a creative agency.

So really, it’s by creating a conversation with the extremes that I began to find balance little by little. Each situation had its challenges, but by combining empathy and persuasion, I managed to make my own way.

How would you describe your job as a strategy director to someone who isn’t in the business?

When people ask, I tell them that my job has two key parts: first, to be a translator of the communicative needs of a brand or company and to help determine how they should respond to the needs or interests of the audience.

Second: to link what a brand offers with what a person needs. Think of it as like a train. Imagine that the brand is a train that wants to reach a destination. The routes are the brand values. The destination is the brand goal. The speed of the trip, whether advertisers arrive on time, is determined by measurable objectives: key performance indicators (KPIs).

Today all passengers on this journey are sharing lots of data—their opinions, their emotions, and their experiences. This information helps us improve our bond with customers and make the business stronger.

Give us a super simple definition of strategy.

Strategy is choosing a way to fulfill a goal. It is about finding the similarities between what a brand offers and what people want, all the while understanding the socioeconomic, political, and cultural context. It’s making decisions.

When is a strategy the most effective?

If we know the communities that we belong to, the similarities and the topics of conversation with our consumers, we will have much of the road paved. Effectiveness is directly associated with understanding the spirit of the time and how we approach the problem that we want to solve as a brand.

The first step in creating strategy effectiveness is to have an in-depth understanding of the environment and to know in detail the public interest in the proposal: their worries, their perspectives, and what attracts their attention. Then we ask ourselves: What role does the brand play in this environment? Honesty and alignment with those things, along with a strong insight, will make a strategy effective.

"But working to solve problems by using different disciplines will allow us to think of new solutions."

When is it the least effective?

Lack of empathy. If I don’t listen to the opinions of other people, I lose the strategic sense. And it’ll cost the brand a lot.

What strategic opportunities are marketers missing?

The richest opportunities are those that provide the chance to affect people in their daily lives or solve their everyday challenges. Many times we end up choosing the comfort zone. But working to solve problems by using different disciplines will allow us to think of new solutions.

What things are marketers doing well with strategy?

Whether traditional or nontraditional, almost all points of contact that connect people and brands can be tools to impact people, create conversion, and, ultimately, sell products. Also, advertisers are learning more about people’s likes and dislikes, to give each consumer a more personalized service.

Brand’s are rethinking their dynamics of business and their relationships with society. Brands that see their products as solutions of socio-environmental problems, such as the more than one million sneakers from Adidas made from ocean-recycled plastic. Others develop solutions, many that use artificial intelligence, to connect with people’s emotions and senses.

Traits that make someone a great strategist?

Curiosity, empathy, and organization. Curiosity allows us to get out of a pre-established mold, learn from others, and professionalize our point of view every day. Empathy allows us to understand others’ feelings, thoughts, and experiences. Organization helps us tell a story with a clear goal that drives us and our storytelling. I think the combination of these three factors makes a formidable strategist.

Natasha Smith is the strategic communications manager for Havas Group. She happily represents 404 in the 212.

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