How many times do you see a brief that involves a single campaign in isolation? This is probably the standard way of working for many marketing departments, and also the default position for a lot of advertising agencies. Maybe it is time to think beyond the campaign to build a proprietary audience, become more cost efficient, and move the brand further for the long term?
While larger brands capitalize on the wide ranging expertise that the traditional agency model provides, there are many smaller brands that starve for specialist expertise and are desperately looking for ways to increase output from their ever tightening marketing budgets. By moving to project based activities marketers should see an increase in content volume, increase in value and if managed correctly any issues with brand disparity should be prevented – without wearing out the marketing department team members with overload.
This clever idea moves costs to Capital Expenditure budgets and frees up the marketing budget. Having inside experience in a marketing department, I can fully appreciate the need for getting more out of the marketing budget.
The mistakes that marketer’s make in choosing suppliers is glaringly obviously to some of us in the industry, while others remain oblivious. It is only when you have a certain experience that you can see things that others can’t. It is like in the movie the Matrix, where the lead character can see the world in terms of code and yet others can’t. It is the same in creative services when choosing a film company, web designer, post production company, or creative agency. Here’s how many are doing it wrong:
A fully integrated marketing campaign is the Holy Grail of our industry, and despite the transition for agency account directors to be re-titled ‘integration directors’ the rest of the agency still acts in silos doing what they always did before – doing what is briefed in (and nothing more). In light of a recent research project to determine how to close the gap between strategy and execution it also reveals an imperative to become more integrated and to rethink the role of specialist project managers.
Having outsourced for many years at all different levels of budget size – whether that is from the most high end production suppliers to an online service like 99 Designs or Elance there are some pros and cons to doing this well in my experience. Many of these talented creatives are off shore and communicate via web links, online briefing or at least email with hardly any face to face contact these days. Here are my thoughts on some pitfalls and opportunities:
Using freelancers or hiring junior staff with downscaled capabilities is a really smart move for some agencies either in transition to increase size as the business grows or to accommodate account losses and a business downturn. As Head of TV in agencies for many years, involved in wider agency operations, and as a business coach, I can see there are pros and cons with how freelancers and juniors are utilised and have learned how to minimise risk with the issues that arise.
Like on a protractor there is a very small degree of shift from the centre when close to the starting point, but as we move further and further away from this point the deviation from base becomes more and more marked; eventually quite a distance away from the desired spot. For me, this is exactly like the creative process through the production phase. Asking ‘Why?’ is the key to keeping it on track and closing the gap.
Regardless of the medium, there are foundation principles that apply to making good creative content. The secrets to getting this right run very deep of course, but here are a few highlights that frequently mean the suppliers are not getting the best creative (the most effective*) made for you.
As a business consultant, or general manager for hire, for creative businesses for a number of years I have been lucky enough to come across a myriad of different business models and a wide pool of differently talented people. The exciting thing for me has been learning what works and what doesn’t work for businesses, and understanding that key that makes one business succeed and another fail – or simply to stay stuck at the one level despite their best efforts. These learnings then help bring a fresh perspective to solve business problems for others including the talent pool problem and ongoing profitability issues.
Branded entertainment is rarely a stand alone communication these days. Once you have chosen your lead platform for your entertainment there are endless ways to amplify what you’re doing across platforms. Here is a quick brainstorm of some ideas. Feel free to contribute your own.
There are many people very keen to be on television and who have a romantic notion about getting a show produced, but equally there are those who are missing out on a viable means to reach a large audience in an authentic and entertaining manner. So, how do you really know if a big show or event idea is viable for you?
Pricing branded content is much like the old adage ‘How long is a piece of string?’ Although knowing that we’re talking about a strong and well known brand that needs to be producing content that is fitting for the business positioning and values, and congruent with the customer expectations about a leading brand, here are a few examples with price tags.
A lot of businesses that don’t understand production are likely to undervalue the roles of production and downscale service to clients. So much so, that a lot of clients are starting to take their productions into their own hands thinking it can’t be that complicated – set a budget and get 3 suppliers to quote on it…. easy! Or is it?….
Do you take on a job that doesn’t feel right just because it is a job, do you have a policy to take any job regardless, do you have standards too high that you limit your own sustainable growth? When do you draw the line?
Having previously been a business consultant for the last few years I had the opportunity to see deep into creative businesses and what makes for success. Here are the 9 habits I think make them a stand out business (a creative business can be anything from a micro-business up to a large scale):
Whilst I realise we all learn from our mistakes I’d like to think that we can learn more comfortably from OTHER people’s mistakes! Here are a few of the doozies that I have learned from.
As you know there are all personality types and all kinds of different thinkers. I have learned about a fantastic system that allows us to engage with everyone from the CEO to the technical procurement person and I believe that it works in all communications – even our ads.
One of my pet subjects is process that aids creativity. Funnily enough it does often cause alarm for some creatives at first when they haven’t experienced a high functioning creative business before, where creativity and accountability are finely balanced.