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Planning for the Best: Having a 'Figure It Out' Mentality with Kitty Tsang


Ready Set Rocket’s partner and head of strategy on social eavesdropping, thinking outside business mandatories and the importance of understanding yourself

Planning for the Best: Having a 'Figure It Out' Mentality 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 organisations through creative marketing solutions. Kitty is experienced in brand strategy, social & digital strategy, content & communications, audience research, paid media, user experience, performance marketing, and more. She has also been featured in Ad Age and Glossy, and a featured speaker at events such as Social Media Week. 

As a cross-functional strategist and 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 leadership in the industry and strategic planning methods led her to be named partner at Ready Set Rocket in 2020.

LBB> What do you think is the difference between a strategist and a planner? Is there one? 

Kitty> We’re not a traditional ad agency so we don’t create distinct roles of ‘strategist’ vs ‘planner.’ Our approach to relationships with clients and our work is very much integrated across brand, communications, creative, and media, highly consultative in terms of ensuring what we do ultimately supports and can move the needle against business outcomes - all 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 objectives - while also fleshing out tactical plans (for content, campaigns, media, etc.) so that the execution of strategy is sound as well. 

This doesn’t mean that the strategist is doing everything top to bottom, but they are the lead; they set the tone, and they consult with others to finalise strategies and plans.

LBB> When you’re turning a business brief into something that can inform an inspiring creative campaign, what do you find the most useful resource to draw on?

Kitty> I like to talk to friends, people in my network, and even ask my colleagues for recommendations of people to speak with. Being able to pick the brains of people that fit the target demographic for a brand or business can offer invaluable insights. The internet, of course, is a treasure trove of information (and misinformation). I’ve found that pouring through many articles and sources helps me round out and shape a perspective by supplementing that with my own experience as a consumer, a strategist, and experience with other clients. 

Lastly, I like to engage in what I call ‘social eavesdropping’ – using a social listening tool and getting on various social channels (i.e. Instagram, Reddit, TikTok, etc.), and combing through comments sections – there’s always a useful comment that can spark thought and lead me to additional digging to uncover more. A few years ago, we worked with a global sports brand that developed a training apparel and footwear line that wanted to engage with the 16-24-year-old demo. I looked through hash tagged content, fitness influencers’ accounts, and read through tons of comments. I saw a lot of the same things - fitness influencers sharing very posed, almost pristine images of themselves - no sweat, lean physique which was met by a lot of heart-eye emojis in the comments. But then I’d come across content from a creator who showed themselves trying to squat a heavy rack and failing and being honest about the number of times they tried and failed before finally succeeding. The comments of gratitude from users for being ‘real’ on social media and being an accurate representation of real life led me into a different direction of what users want but don’t always get from influencers and brands. 

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


LBB> What do you think is the biggest challenge facing brands now as it relates to strategy and planning? 

Kitty> Thinking outside or beyond their internal business mandatories and understanding the best way to connect with an audience. Doing this would actually force them to reconsider whether what they offer and how it’s positioned is truly valuable to the audience they are trying to reach. 

Sometimes what the brand wants to say is at odds with what consumers value, and that’s certainly a critical area that needs to be called out – embracing friction and aligning as a brand on what makes sense both to the business and to the audience is a common challenge many brands face. This is compounded with rapid evolution in the digital landscape which also changes audience behaviours, as well as macro changes that impact work/life for everybody (e.g. the pandemic fundamentally changing audiences behaviours that can be lasting). 

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

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

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

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

Kitty> I break it down to three core levels: business objective, marketing objective, and communications/creative objective. 

A. Business objective is at the highest level – what do we want to achieve as a business, and then how does marketing support that? 

B. Marketing objective governs the tactics and channels we leverage to reach and engage audiences, in order to support the business objective. 

C. Then the communications/creative objective and role is to support the marketing objective – what’s the most effective way to communicate or bring to life a message that supports our marketing goal, which ultimately then supports our business goal. 

D. Using this approach, it breaks down an oftentimes broad/ambiguous or lofty business goals into relevant, and tangible objectives for marketing and creative/communications. This strengthens and provides a focus on the marketing and creative/communications layer, which means each layer is planned in a way to support a broader business objective and strategy. 

E. Additionally, with my background / 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 details for respective teams to execute against.

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

Kitty> I have three pieces of advice:

1. Understand yourself, know the why. Introspection and self-reflection on my mindset, behaviours, specifically as a consumer, has helped me a lot as a strategist. What drives my behaviour? What led me to react a certain way? Why do I like one brand but not another (and why do I even like this brand)? etc. These are ways I’ve better understood myself, but also better understand patterns/behaviours and reactions trends that change all around me.

2. Adopt a ‘figure it out’ mentality. As a strategist, it is my responsibility to navigate the unknown and identify a solution. Just having the mentality of ‘figuring it out’ and using any resource I have available (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 entire world gathers. It’s where businesses operate. Expand who/what you follow, read, and explore. You can see consumer behaviour and brand trends starting to form on social media by consuming what people are sharing and saying on social media. 

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Flight PR, Mon, 01 Aug 2022 02:42:08 GMT