WARC recently looked at the role of strategy and the changing role of the strategist in the marketing world. Our summary of “The Future of Strategy” is here:

The comprehensive report found four overarching themes that are shaping marketing strategy:

Growing influence. Strategists are playing an increased role in creating campaigns due to the increasing complexity of the marketing environment.
Specialization is becoming the norm. Several survey respondents mentioned the need for greater diversity – in terms of background, age and skillset – within strategy teams. There is a feeling among some that, as the nature of the strategy function has diversified, different points of view are needed. Thus planning teams are more and more formed by a number of specialists in specific areas (crm, social, shopper, etc)
Upstream opportunities. Planners see ‘upstream’ thinking – going beyond communications campaigns and towards tackling the client’s deeper-lying business problems – as the biggest single opportunity for the future.
New ways or working, not a new skill set. The key skills of a strategist – an enquiring mind, an ability to distil complex information – do not appear to have changed. But the pace they need to work at is quicker. This means strategists are increasingly looking to hire planners who can work at speed and with a number of teams simultaneously.
Other trends exposed by this survey include:

Short term thinking and constrained budgets are becoming the main threats. With brands opting for tactical actions instead of strategic plans.
By agency type, Digital/Specialist teams were most likely to have increased (67% of respondents). Meanwhile, 53% of creative agencies said teams had been growing, compared to just 13% of media agencies.

The study does acknowledge the role that shrinking budgets play in curtailing the participation of strategists in communication planning – when the budget becomes tight, strategy is the first to go. It should be clear that it is then the outdated model of agencies that hurt the capability of advertisers to engage in long term strategic communication, if you’d like a strategic agency with a model that makes sense in order to build your brand, drop us a message.