How to Find and Hire The Best Creative Strategist to Grow Your Brand

Colby Flood
Creative Strategy

What is a Creative Strategist?

Before you hire a creative strategist, you need to understand what they do–which can be a bit tricky because it may vary from agency to agency. At the most basic level, a creative strategist develops marketing strategies for clients or their own brand. 

At Brighter Click, we focus primarily on Facebook, TikTok, and Google ads, as well as UGC/Influencer sourcing. We also provide Fractional CMO services, where our creative strategist may provide consulting services for brand building and management. 

What Do Creative Strategists Do?

Unlike traditional roles that are confined to specific tasks, like designing visuals or writing copy, creative strategists operate at the intersection of creativity and strategic planning. Their primary responsibility is not just to create content that looks good but to develop comprehensive strategies that resonate with target audiences and achieve specific business objectives. 

At Brighter Click, our creative strategist is involved in (but not limited to):

  • Audience research and brand strategy 
  • Onboarding clients and walking them through strategic goals 
  • Monthly campaign planning based on ad performance data
  • Briefing new ad ideas for our copywriter and designer to execute 
  • Giving strategic feedback on the copy and design 
  • Working with the media buyer to implement and optimize ads

They must consider an ad's aesthetic appeal and its entire lifecycle—from conceptualization to execution and optimization. 

When you work with multiple brands across Meta, TikTok, and Google, as my agency does, the role involves understanding each brand's voice, unique campaign goals, and the nuances of creative strategy and customer behaviors on multiple platforms.

A creative strategist must incorporate this understanding into every decision, ensuring that each piece of content aligns with the brand’s identity while effectively speaking to the audience's desires and needs.

What Makes a Great Creative Strategist? 

To some, it’s the ability to dream up innovative, creative ideas that will be eye-catching and memorable. But in my experience, it’s so much more than that—especially when each client has unique goals and metrics (not to mention a marketing landscape that seems to change drastically day-to-day!).

It’s one of the most crucial roles to get right when hiring. A creative strategist has to conceptualize and produce creative that aligns with brand goals and captures the audience's attention in a way that can drive conversions. They must also understand how to utilize comprehensive data to drive decisions and lead a team of creatives.

Marketing Trends and Innovation

It’s also important that a creative strategist stays ahead of marketing trends and technologies. Within my agency, we’re constantly looking for new ways to enhance performance, improve efficiency, and innovate how we work. With a small team, it’s incredibly important to always leverage the latest technology to help increase workflow (without sacrificing quality!).

As the head of our creative team, a strategist must be an expert at adapting new strategies based on emerging data, platforms, and consumer behaviors. This requires a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of marketing analytics. They look at data not just to report to clients on what happened on each campaign, but to glean insights that will inform future creative directions and strategic adjustments.

Collaboration and Team Leading

One of the most important roles of a strategist is bringing the entire team together under one united goal and vision for each campaign or brief. Effective creative strategists foster collaboration among team members, including designers, copywriters, and media buyers, to ensure that every piece of content is optimized for its intended purpose. 

I think of our strategist as the glue that holds the creative and analytical pieces of marketing campaigns together, ensuring that every element works harmoniously to meet the campaign’s strategic goals – whether it’s increasing AOV, improving sales of a specific product or collection, or boosting creative diversity in an account.

Our creative strategist needs to relay their vision to our copywriter to help them find the right words to connect with the audience. Then, they need to coordinate with the designer to bring the entire vision to life. After that, they discuss their goals with the media buyer to ensure ads get the right amount of testing and spending. 

Finally, they have to be able to defend their creative choices to clients who may not have a deep understanding of how advertising and marketing work. In many ways, clients depend on the creative strategist as their guide. 

The Advantage of Media Buying Experience for a Creative Strategist

One significant edge in today's market is for creative strategists to have a background in media buying. This experience equips them with a nuanced understanding of how different creatives perform across platforms, which is invaluable. 

For instance, having overseen Meta campaigns with substantial annual spending, our strategist has developed an instinctual feel for what types of creative content generally work best. This isn't derived from theoretical knowledge but from practical, hands-on experience that helps spot effective ad campaign patterns. (Full disclaimer: don’t let this bias halt the testing of creatives. When in doubt, test it out.)

This practical experience is crucial for understanding the broader context in which a creative operates. Knowing the ins and outs of platform-specific requirements, audience preferences, and performance indicators allows a strategist to make informed decisions.

Data Comprehension is Key

The ability to interpret complex data is crucial for enhancing current campaigns and strategizing for future efforts. Platforms like Meta can be complex, making data tracking occasionally difficult.

  • An excellent creative strategist must have a solid grasp of performance marketing metrics. This includes understanding how different metrics, like CTR and Hold Rate, can give clues as to why a creative performed positively or negatively.
  • Our strategist has to decide the right mix of content formats (videos, GIFs, or images) for a campaign. Those decisions are based on data that indicates how different content types perform among various audience segments. But they also need to consider how long past ads ran, what the spend was, and what the ROAS or CPA looked like. 

Comprehending media buying data becomes invaluable here, allowing strategists to anticipate the campaign's needs and adjust strategies accordingly.

How to Hire a Creative Strategist

When hiring a creative strategist, looking for candidates with a strong background in media buying can be particularly beneficial—but it may not be entirely essential. 

These individuals bring a depth of understanding that goes beyond traditional creative skills, but if they’re strong collaborators (and faster learners), these skills can be picked up by working closely with your media buyer. 

It’s also crucial to consider how candidates fit into the company culture and their ability to collaborate with designers, copywriters, and other team members to execute a unified vision. Referrals from trusted sources within one's network often prove valuable in finding talent that fits the required skill set and the organizational culture. 

I also like setting up a trial project, giving candidates up to 3 days to execute the type of work they’d be doing daily. There’s a catch, though. Here’s how I do it… 

Because communication is so important on any creative team (and isn’t something that can be clearly defined on a resume or questionnaire), I look for ways to better understand candidates' communication skills during the trial project. 

  1. I give them access to our team Slack so they can reach out with any questions they have throughout the project. 
  2. I ask for EOD progress updates (projects usually last 2 to 3 days) to see how they are with keeping their team in the loop. 
  3. I leave some room for questions in the project guidelines to understand who will reach out, ask questions, and provide feedback while they work on the project. 

Training and Onboarding a Creative Strategist

Proper training and onboarding are essential for new hires, especially in dynamic roles like creative strategists. If your strategist doesn’t have media buying experience, it’s beneficial to integrate training that allows them to shadow your media buyers or dive deep into data analytics.

I like to have them dive into client work fairly early so they can see how our processes work rather than just reading about them. 

I also schedule regular meetings, check-ins, and 30, 60, and 90-day reviews to assess how things are going, how they feel about the role, and where we can mutually improve. 

How to Find The Right Creative Strategist 

As the digital landscape becomes increasingly data-driven, the demand for strategists who can navigate both creative execution and data analysis will continue to rise. By embracing a comprehensive approach to hiring, training, and ongoing development, agencies can empower their creative teams to deliver more nuanced and effective marketing strategies that drive genuine business outcomes.

That said, for many brands, it’s easier to hire an agency to execute marketing for them. Agencies like ours work with SaaS and eCommerce clients across a wide range of verticals. By leveraging the knowledge and skill of our team, you can focus on what you do best and let us handle ad strategy, execution, and optimization of your Facebook ads, Google Ads, and UGC content. 

Want more growth marketing strategies?

Check out The Marketing Mindset Podcast, where I interview industry leaders, marketers, and CEOs from a wide range of industries every week! 

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