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.
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:
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.
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?….
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.
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.
Even the nicest people can be unwittingly disempowering others around them simply by being unclear of how their behaviour and decisions either empower and disempower others. Here are 30 specific ideas to consider:
‘Working for the idea’ is my mantra. This is my core driving force in everything I do. I’m obsessed with getting the best possible value on the screen and for all wastage for all parties to be removed or put where it is best serving the idea. From my experience I can say categorically that there is an element of ‘magic’ that comes from a good process in a production that directly converts onto the screen in some tangible way.
There are a few different types of director, and they all are valid. There is one that simply unfolds your idea, one that adds to the process and demands to be at the core of the idea, and those that are mistakenly given the full reign including concept development.
If you’re in an agency, highly creative, an innovative thinker and love change then you’re likely to have no idea how to understand your client. If you’re a client that loves a process, charts, facts and figures and love to know the exact results of your campaign ahead of time then you’re likely to have no idea how to understand your agency. Of course I’m generalising here, but the principle stands.
Overwhelm is one of the most compromising states for many of us and affects our productivity, our communication, inter-office and client relationships as well as our creativity. Some of us recognise it when it appears, and some of us don’t. The idea is to be self aware and remember some simple strategies that work for you to overcome it.
There are nuances to the approval process that really are all about the process but there are factors affecting approval that are personality driven. The key is in knowing the difference, knowing how to anticipate them and manage the process so as not to affect the creative output.
Does your team have a bottleneck? Is there somewhere in the organisation that the work just doesn’t pass through quickly enough? Do team members hesitate to make decisions with speaking to this one person (insert name, department here)? Are you a bottleneck yourself?
Many in the advertising industry have been under some pressure for some time and my heart is with everyone as they are feeling the pinch. The industry is filled with many talented and creative people who do great work but are being overlooked or struggling to keep consistent work in the door. It is no question that times are changing and that has caused a challenge for many.