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  • Writer's pictureSimon Jones

What comes first, strategy or images? The answer's obvious. Or is it...?

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

1. Having fun with a stapler

2. Marketing strategy (the more serious part)

At what point should you create your strategy? I always thought the answer was obvious. Actually it is but this is a fun way to make a point.

Marketing strategy, and in particular *marketing messages*, almost always come before a photoshoot or a video shoot. Is that the right way round though...?


Transcription of video for hearing impaired

Quick tip for you. You know what it's like when you have to staple through a big water, people like this, and you've only got a standard office stapler option, what is it? You try and squash it through that never quite goes through properly. You just end up with some kind of real mess like this. So then option two is that you try and smash it through, but then it just ends up completely mashed up like a bit of spaghetti. Instead, this is what you have to do. You press it down gently and you wait for the click and then still holding it down. Then you can smash it.

And what you get is a perfectly stapled document in this video, we're talking about what should come first, your marketing strategy or marketing imagery. The answer is obvious.

15 second intro?

So marketing strategy first or marketing photography slash video first. Well, duh Simon it's strategy. I mean, how can you shoot the right images? If you don't know what direction the strategy is taking the school in quick story. About two years ago, I arrived at a school for a day's photography and they hadn't sent me a brief in advance, but to be honest, that's not completely unusual and not a big problem.

So I asked the marketing manager what the school was looking to communicate to prospective parents in the images. And she said to me, we haven't created the strategy yet. We were going to wait to see the photos and then come up with the strategy from those. I mean, my immediate thought was one, you've got this the wrong way round. And two, maybe you haven't actually had a chance to create a strategy yet.

And this is your way of sounding slightly less ill prepared. But then I wondered whether she actually had a very good point, because if you ask a school marketing manager to create a vision or a strategy, or even to summarize the school into one sentence, then most schools will become, the UK is leading co-educational insert school type for insert age range, then insert three Latin words of inspiration, but maybe this school was onto something because letting someone who's not part of the school, I me capture natural moments around the school of children being the school's children means we're not looking for specific moments, contrived or otherwise that fit the keywords. The SLT have collectively decided, should be used to describe their school, whether or not they actually truly believe that their school is that or to put it another way. Sometimes part of the brief means I need to capture a photo or video of a child having a magical discovery moment of wow.

Now we all know what that shot looks like. And sometimes when I'm on a shoot, a child, not even realizing that the camera is on them reveals this magical discovery moments of wow, but it doesn't often happen right in front of you. And if you ask a child to look like they've just been enlightened by the school's outstanding teaching, then you can imagine how fake that's going to look.

But going back to the school at the center of this very short story, after looking through everything that had been captured on the date, that marketing team would be able to some of its headline messages from the material. So maybe in those photographs that day, there would have been a moment of concentration, maybe a capture of loving friendship between two pupils and possibly that momentous magic in the morning, arrival at school. But whatever they see in their images from that shoot, they could use those with a clear conscience that nothing was fabricated and everything was authentic.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that your school shouldn't have a marketing strategy. I mean, every marketing bone inside me rejects that whole concept. But on that day, for me to say that the school was making a mistake in creating their messaging from the photos. Well, I think maybe there's actually something in that, but I would love to know what you think. And also if you know someone else who you think would be interested in this video, then please share it with them. If nothing else, it might give them a chance to take five minutes away from their desk of sitting on it yet, another zoom call soon, we will all be back in school.

Despite the fact that Boris Johnson said, it's not going to be until March. That time is coming though. And we will all be back to normal at some point. But in the meantime, thank you for watching this video.

I'll see you again soon. Bye for now.

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