Planning for the Best: Having a “Get It” Mindset with Kitty Tsang

As Partner and Head of Strategy at Ready Set Rocket, Kitty Tsang leads a team that seeks to grow and transform brands and organizations through creative marketing solutions. Kitty is experienced in branding, social and digital strategy, content and communications, audience research, paid media, user experience, performance marketing, and more. She has also been featured in Ad Age and Glossy, and a guest speaker at events such as Social Media Week.

As a strategist and cross-functional marketer with extensive brand experience, Kitty has worked with clients including Blackrock, Conde Nast, American Museum of Natural History, Sweetgreen, Neutrogena, Sakara Life, Industry City, Ford Foundation, Michael Kors, Blackstone and Univision. . Kitty’s industry leadership and strategic planning methods led to her being named a Ready Set Rocket Partner in 2020.

LBB> According to you, what is the difference between a strategist and a planner? Is there a?

Kitty> We’re not a traditional ad agency, so we’re not creating separate ‘strategist’ and ‘planner’ roles. Our approach to client relations and our work is highly integrated across brand, communications, creative and media, highly consultative to ensure that what we ultimately do supports and can move the needle against business outcomes – while shaping business and growth strategies.

In my world, a strategist is also a planner – we uncover critical insights that shape strategies, inform creative, and provide direction that aligns with a client’s goals – while developing tactical plans (for content , campaigns, media, etc.) so that the execution of the strategy is also solid.

This does not mean that the strategist does everything from top to bottom, but he is the one who directs; they set the tone and consult with others to finalize strategies and plans.

LBB> When turning a business brief into something that can inform an inspiring creative campaign, what do you think is the most useful resource to tap into?

Kitty > I like to talk to friends, people in my network and even ask my colleagues to recommend people to talk to. Being able to select the brains of people who fit a brand or company’s target demographic can offer invaluable insights. The internet, of course, is a wealth of information (and misinformation). I have found that going through many articles and sources helps me complete and shape a perspective by complementing it with my own experience as a consumer, strategist, and experience with other customers.

Finally, I like to engage in what I call “social listening” – using a social listening tool and accessing various social channels (i.e. Instagram, Reddit, TikTok, etc.), and browsing through the comment sections – there is always a helpful comment that can be thought provoking and lead me to dig deeper to find out more. A few years ago we worked with a global sports brand that developed a line of workout apparel and footwear that wanted to engage with the 16-24 age demographic. I scoured hash-tagged content, fitness influencer accounts, and read tons of comments. I saw a lot of the same – fitness influencers sharing very posed, almost pristine images of themselves – no sweat, lean physique that was met by a lot of heart-eye emojis in the comments. But then I came across content from a creator who showed himself trying to squat a heavy rack and failing and being honest about how many times he tried and failed before to finally succeed. User gratitude comments for being “real” on social media and being an accurate representation of real life has led me in a different direction to what users want but don’t always get from influencers and brands.

I absorb tons of information, filter it, and use it to turn a business brief into something that can inspire a creative campaign and provide quotes, anecdotes, and ideas to back it up.

LBB> What do you think is the biggest challenge facing brands today when it comes to strategy and planning?

Kitty > Think outside or beyond their internal business mandates and understand how best to connect with an audience. Doing that would actually force them to reconsider if what they offer and how it’s positioned is truly valuable to the audience they’re trying to reach.

Sometimes what the brand means is at odds with what consumers value, and that’s definitely a critical area that needs to be called out – embracing friction and aligning as a brand with what makes sense at the both for the company and for the public is a common point. challenge that many brands face. This is compounded by the rapidly changing digital landscape which is also changing public behaviors, as well as macro-economic shifts which are impacting everyone’s work/life (e.g. the pandemic is fundamentally changing public behaviors which can be durable).

LBB> What do you wish brands understood better when it comes to connecting with consumers today?

Kitty > You’re not always going to get it right because consumers can be fickle, their minds can change, and there are many external factors that shape and change what consumers want at different times.

There is so much value (and tools to help) in testing and learning. It means not putting everything in one basket, but having the willingness to test, iterate and improve over time.

LBB> What is your approach to connecting strategy to a brand’s business objectives?

Kitty> I break it down into three main levels: business objective, marketing objective and communication/creation objective.

A. The business purpose is at the highest level – what do we want to achieve as a business, and how does marketing support it?

B. The marketing objective governs the tactics and channels we use to reach and engage the audience, in support of the business objective.

C. Next, the purpose and role of communication/creation is to support the marketing objective – what is the most effective way to communicate or bring to life a message that supports our marketing objective, which ultimately then supports our objective commercial.

D. Using this approach, he breaks down often broad/ambiguous or lofty business goals into relevant and tangible goals for marketing and creative/communications. This reinforces and emphasizes the marketing and creative/communications layer, which means that each layer is planned to support a larger business objective and strategy.

E. Additionally, with my experience/career of understanding data, analytics, paid media, breadth of marketing disciplines across digital, social, content, an understanding of brand, communications and creative – I build an integrated brief with the appropriate amount of detail for the respective teams to execute against.

LBB> What’s your best advice for someone considering a similar career path?

Kitty> I have three tips:

1. Understand yourself, know why. Introspection and self-reflection on my state of mind, my behaviors, especially as a consumer, has helped me a lot as a strategist. What motivates my behavior? What made me react in a certain way? Why do I like one brand but not another (and why do I even like this brand)? etc These are ways to better understand myself, but also to better understand the patterns/behaviors and patterns of reactions that are changing all around me.

2. Adopt a “get it” mentality. As a strategist, it is my responsibility to navigate the unknown and identify a solution. Just having the “get it” mentality and using all the resources I have (sometimes just Google) has gone a long way for me professionally.

3. Go on social media – a lot. And in general, read a lot. Social media is where the whole world comes together. This is where companies operate. Expand who/what you follow, read and explore. You can see consumer behavior and brand trends begin to form on social media by consuming what people share and say on social media.

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