Creative Strategist Definition, Career and Salary Guide

We are living in a world where the definition of creative strategist is rapidly evolving across the marketing strategy and advertising industry. At the intersection of art and science creative strategist have evolved from hybrid roles shared amongst media buyers and designers into key roles that drive not only brand quality but paid media performance. In this article, we discuss what a creative strategist is, what creative strategists actually do, how to become a creative strategist and how to be a better creative strategist yourself!

Creative strategist working on laptop

What is Creative Strategist?

To summarize "What is a creative strategist" can be a difficult task because a creative strategist can sit across multiple verticals inside of a company, In this article, we are going to focus on creative strategist in the paid media and advertising industry which has seen massive growth over the last decade. For digital advertising, the role of a creative strategist is to drive marketing campaigns forward for the brand by leveraging new creative ideas, content sources and media production strategies.

Often a creative strategist can have multiple roles in a company like Media Buyer or Graphic Designer, however it is becoming more common amongst brands and agencies to have a dedicated creative strategist on their team.

What do Creative Strategists Do?

Like many jobs you may be asking yourself, "What does a creative strategist do?" and the quick answer is more than you think! A creative strategist usually sits between the analytical and creative team of a company meaning they often facilitate the communication and actionable tasks for the other members of their team to execute a sound marketing strategy. Here is a list of the 4 most impactful creative strategist duties.

1. Market Research

A creative strategist will often spend time across lots of digital platforms including Facebook, Instagram and TikTok looking to identify market trends. If a creative strategist's next piece of content can ride the wave of a viral TikTok trend this could create meaningful brand awareness. TikTok has a cool took called the TikTok Creative Center that will show you the top performing ads to use as inspiration and share with your creative team.

2. Competitor Analysis

Understanding the competitive landscape of your industry can help inform your creative strategy moving forward. For analysis for competitor's ad campaigns creative strategist will use tools like Facebook Ad Library to see their competitors facebook ads. Along with the creative strategist, competitor analysis is something that the growth team is also involved in.

3. Ad Performance Analysis

Every creative strategist knows there is a massive discrepancy between what ad we think will work and what will actually drive marketing performance for your target audience. That is why using analytical skills the ads your company is already running is a massive part of a creative strategist duties. Using the data and findings from ads running right now, creative strategists will be able to create informed marketing solutions going forward. Specifically, a creative strategist will often use software specifically built for creative analysis, the most popular being Triple Whale's Creative Cockpit and Motion.

4. Writing Ad Briefs

One of the most important aspects of a creative strategists work is to write ad briefs for the creative team. Using the inspiration collected during their market research, data from their competitors and own ad performance creative strategist will write a well-informed brief. A creative brief for Facebook or TikTok ads would include ad concepts or inspiration, stylistic concepts and branding materials, copywriting, storyline and more. Depending on the organizational structure, the creative strategist would send this brief to their advertising agencies or internal design team to have the advertisement developed. One of the best software tools that creative strategists use for brief writing is a platform called Foreplay.co that combines everything from competitor research, to briefing and project management into one platform - designed for creative strategist.

5. Project Management for Creative Strategy

On top of having good general business strategy and basic budgeting skills, often Creative Strategists need to be able to manage multiple projects at one time. These projects would sit across various marketing initiatives and campaigns. The items

Becoming a Creative Strategists

Just like you, creative strategists pursue roles in many different industries. Although the need for creative strategists is increasing, you might be struggling to find creative strategist positions with open roles and you may be unclear about the creative strategist job requirements.

Considering Digital Advertising has seen massive growth over the last decade, that is where there is currently the most demand for creative strategist skills, while providing a creative strategist work environment with outstanding culture and freedom to develop creative advertising strategies for a marketing team.

Skills for Creative Strategists

  • Understanding of modern digital marketing efforts
  • Critical thinking
  • Understanding of Media Buying and sales data
  • Organization
  • Ability to work closely with multiple teams
  • Understanding consumer Behavior
  • Marketing strategy and planning
  • Strong ability to generate new ideas
  • Strong communication with clients

Education requirements for Creative Strategists

The educational backgrounds for creative strategist can have a lot of variation and like many jobs in the marketing industry are more focused on experience and outcomes than a master's degree or bachelor's degree.

However, traditional university or college education in the following fields could help you be a successful creative strategist.

  • Consumer Behaviour or Consumer Insights
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Business Strategy
  • Media and Production
  • Creative Industries - Management

Certifications and Courses for Creative Strategist

Although you don't need any certifications to preform creative strategist duties, there are some great paid and free courses/certifications and resources that could be valuable to add to your resume or portfolio.

Average salary for creative strategist

Creative Strategist Salary

If you are an individual looking for their next job to jumpstart their creative strategy career, or a marketing agency looking to finally add on a full-time creative strategists you are left asking "How much money do creative strategists make?". The answer to how much is a creative strategist salary is depended on the industry and the work experience of the applicant, however we have pulled some averages.

  • According toZip Recruiter, the national average salary for Creative Strategist is $138,395/year or $67 per however salaries can be as low as $50,000/year with most ranging between $79,5000(25th percentile) and $169,500(75th percentile)
  • On the other hand, Comparably, says that on average a U.S. based creative strategists can expect to make $92,008 with the middle 50% of creative strategists making between $72,000 and $85,000 per year.

Where to find Creative Strategist Jobs

Creative strategist jobs can be hard to find but there are some creative ways to think about finding the best opportunity for your next job.

  1. Ecommerce Job Boards
  2. Since eCommerce companies have a huge need for new ads across many social platforms. Job boards in this industry can be a great place to start.
  3. Agency Creative Strategy Jobs
  4. If you are more interested in fulfilling a client's goals then working in an agency might be a better fit. We recommend looking for agencies that are mostly focused on digital advertising in the DTC industry - companies similar to Common Thread Collective and Homestead Studio.

Why do you need a Creative Strategist?

Depending on your business goals and the pressure from your brand team, you might be wondering "Do I need a creative strategist at my company?". Often the best way to understand if you need more marketing talent in your company is to think about current blockers. If you feel like your media buyers are lacking the crucial skill that a creative strategist can provide, then it could have profound impacts on your marketing performance.

If you are unsure of how to set up a strategist for success, the key is to find the ideal candidate that understands your customer segment, and is a self starter who can develop a team around them.

Foreplay creative strategist software
Foreplay.co creative strategist software screenshot

Software and Tools your Creative strategists Need

Like any role, there are tons of software tools that help with creative strategist problem solving and help to achieve results for your company marketing. Here are some ideas for tools that can help your creative strategists creativity and marketing performance.

  1. Triple Whale Creative Cockpit
  2. Triple Whale is an eCommerce analytics tool that helps centralize all of the marketing metrics a company needs to know. They recently released their new add-on called Creative Cockpit that allows you analyze and compare individual ads performance against each other.
  3. Motion App
  4. Since Triple Whale is only for eCommerce companies right now, motion app offers similar capabilities to the creative cockpit for any Facebook or TikTok ad account.
  5. Foreplay
  6. With the first 2 tools being focused on analytical skills Foreplay as a platform is much more focused on transforming those learnings into briefs for your internal creative team or external creative agency. The platform has 3 core features.
  7. Swipe File - Save ads from Facebook Ad Library and TikTok Creative Center
  8. Discovery- since the platform has hundreds of users each you can see into the minds of creative strategists around the world and gain insights into what they are saving for their target audiences.
  9. Brief Generator - of then the most time consuming process of a strategists duties, the Foreplay brief generator enables you to turn big ideas into actionable briefs for your designers or video editors.

Creative Strategist to Follow

Over the last year the role of creative strategist has become extremely more popular online with niche personalities popping up primarily on DTC twitter. If you are serious about becoming or hiring a creative strategist to help with your company marketing strategy then I highly recommend following some of these creative strategists on twitter.

  • Dara Denney is the director of performance creative @ Thesis. Dara also has a great YouTube channel where she talks all things creative strategy and eCommerce growth.
  • Anze Markovic's twitter feed is filled with solid tips about how you can produce ad creative that moved the needle.
  • Sarah Levinger helps brand increase their ROI with psychology-based creative strategies through her agency HG Performance Creative.
  • Barry Hott is a media buyer and DTC growth expert with a tongue and cheek saying that more people should "make ugly ads" if they care about ad performance.
  • Lauren Schwartzis an ad designer and creative strategist for eCommerce brands. She also has a great YouTube Channel.

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