“What do I think of what, exactly?” I was lost. It was 2016 and my client at TBWA, the largest agency in the Netherlands, looked at me with great expectation. I felt like I should know the answer. So did he. But this was question purely about strategy, and I was in charge of the creative. Still, he was right to ask, and right to expect an answer. After all, I was in charge of his campaign – a very large and visible campaign to boot. I was also out of my depth.

So, I took this moment to heart. I went to night school to study advanced marketing communications for a year. After that, content strategy, branding and positioning, content creation and storytelling, customer journeys, go to market strategy, inbound online marketing, an APG course, and a 100-part pure strategy course. I got educated, I educated myself. More importantly, I was able to help more and more clients with their strategy questions.

Then at one point as a freelancer, I was asked to do pure strategy work, where being a copywriter was secondary. Still very useful – strategy is a lot more appealing when well-written – but not the main reason for hiring me. Which is just what 180/DDB Amsterdam did - I became Strategy Director working on their largest Dutch client Rabobank. There was another reason why this works out well: I have enough experience under my belt as a creative to know what strategy will yield interesting, effective executions. To steer clear from the expected, the crowded middle. Or to avoid pandering to the client. Which happens a bit more than you’d like to think.

Now I create the foundations for campaigns as a strategy director, help companies find their value propositions, give their brands an identity, voice their stories. I write creative briefs, provide the guiding strategic ideas for campaigns and make sure the creative work created is as fresh as it can be. To show the world what they have to offer, and to eliminate any barriers that get in the way. Strategy, it turns out, is great fun as long as you know what you’re doing.

As a strategist I have been working for: