Kudos! You’re the client and you’ve hired an agency with visionary leadership, rock star creative, and strategic brilliance. You’re confident in your choice, full of hope, and eager to see new creative ideas that will light your world on fire…in a good way. Or, you’ve been working with your agency for a while and the creative isn’t fresh like it used to be. You’re frustrated, you want things to work out, but you wonder if it’s time to make a change. What you might not realize is that your ability to communicate, motivate, and inspire plays a crucial role in the outcome.
Here are 7 things you can do to keep your agency’s juices flowing for breakout creative:
1. Share Insights and Information
While your team should know what questions to ask and how to synthesize valuable business, industry, and customer insights, only you have access to your company’s existing research and competitive data, strategy documents, and sales metrics. As in insider, you have an intimate understanding of your services, products, and customer mindset. Sharing these knowledge assets will help the team understand your business and develop well-informed strategies, recommendations, and creative. At the same time, don’t be afraid to not have all the answers. Part of the agency’s job is to guide you through the discovery process and offer fresh insights.
2. Give Your Agency Access to Stakeholders
Treasures that deepen insight and spark creative ideas are often discovered when your agency hears from key stakeholders. Surprising and valuable ideas emerge when your CEO shares his or her perspective, salespeople discuss their customers and sales challenges, doctors, nurses, and scientists talk about their work and passions, and when customers describe their experience with your brand, why they like you, and how they feel you can improve. As an added benefit, your stakeholders will buy in more fully and feel more valued and heard. And, along the way, you might even identify a new opportunity to improve your process, product, or service.
3. Review and Agree on the Creative Brief
After your agency has gathered all the juicy tidbits and developed an overall strategy and BEFORE the creative team starts concepting, you should see, discuss, agree upon, and approve a creative brief – the most important strategy document for the creative process. It is a one-page document (hence the word “brief”) that concisely boils everything down to a “single-minded proposition” or “key message”. The creative brief helps focus the team and the development of ideas and it serves as a guidepost and foundation that keeps everyone on track. Without one, you risk communicating a wrong, meaningless, or unfocused message while wasting valuable time and money.
4. Let Your Agency Find the Solution
While reviewing creative ideas, layouts, design, and copy, give honest (and diplomatic) feedback, and if there is a problem, let the agency solve it. For example, if your agency presents campaign ideas but you feel the creative won’t jive with your customers, explain your concerns, have a dialog, agree on next steps, and let the agency come back with a solution. By letting them own and solve the problem, you’ll have a motivated team with high confidence and morale – two key ingredients for creativity and success.
5. Try, Try, Try to Be Objective
This is tough for everyone. We all have our personal likes and dislikes, especially when it comes to color and design. I know there are certain color palettes that just don’t appeal to me, so before I react and make a judgment, I have to remind myself that I’m not the audience, client, or designer. Of course, you have to love the work and it has to feel right in your gut. But when it comes down to personal tastes, take a pause. While reviewing creative, ask yourself if it’s in alignment with the voice, look, and feel of your brand, if it delivers the key message in a way that will stand out and grab attention, if it will it make your target audience think and feel something powerful, and if it’s unique and impactful enough to be remembered.
6. Show Your Appreciation Through Words, Action, and Respect
Agency creatives do what they do because they’re passionate about their work and the act of creating. To them, it’s art and it can feel very personal. One of the most powerful things you can do to motivate, excite, and engage your agency is to show your appreciation through words, action, and respect. When a client tells me they love our work and that we help them sleep well at night, I’m energized and ready to go the extra mile…and so is my entire team. Return phone calls and emails promptly. Do what you say you’re going to do. And keep the agency informed. Follow the golden rule and your agency will not only love you for it, they will work harder on your behalf.
7. Reduce Revisions and Rework
I’ve found that copy is often quickly scanned at first and taken seriously only after it’s in a final visual format. This not only burns more agency hours by requiring back and forth revisions and changes to the layout, it can frustrate and discourage the team. For example, when copy comes across your desk, set time aside to read it carefully and think it through. Talk through it if you have questions and then make your edits. If possible, show it to other internal marketing influencers and decision makers so you can give the agency comprehensive feedback all at once.
I’ve been honored to work with many smart, respectful, and appreciative clients who have had a positive effect on my life and my work. If you choose to do the same for your agency, I promise it will come back to you tenfold. Your agency is your partner and its success is your success.
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