Getting the best creative from your agency is a two-way street

A common refrain is that a strong client-agency partnership leads to the best creative output. At Glue, we completely agree. But what constitutes a strong partnership? And why does partnership even matter? After all, shouldn’t agencies just deliver great campaigns, since that’s what they’re paid to do?

In theory, yes. But agencies don’t sell widgets, they sell ideas, which come from the minds of people. 

As a client, you want your agency’s very best creative team to be devoted to your business. But so does everyone else. And because that team is in high demand, they almost always––maybe not at first, but eventually––have a choice about what brands they want to service.

So here are three ways to help you get the best creative team and their best work:

  1. The creative brief

Great creative campaigns are on-strategy. They engage the target audience by eliciting responses such as “that’s me! “or “that’s for me!” And then they motivate action by molding perceptions of a brand as important and differentiating, ie something of value that would be hard––if not impossible––to replace. They reflect target-audience insights, and the positioning and brand character of the product.

Sound like the core components of a creative brief? Exactly. Which is why having that document thoroughly vetted and approved by the client is the essential first step to getting great work. The creative brief and the process that produces it give the agency the knowledge it needs to not only deliver a well-designed campaign, but one that will effectively build business.

  1. Fewer meetings, more time

The big idea that generates great creative doesn’t typically arise in a formal meeting. More often than not, it surfaces at an unpredictable moment, after all of the information contained in the creative brief and supportive documents have had a chance to marinate in the minds of the creative team assigned to your business.

As Joseph Campbell might describe it, a creative thinker needs to be given a chance to follow his or her bliss. The eureka moment that results may happen in a dream, in the shower, or standing in line at the supermarket. It’s the reason copywriters and art directors keep a pad by their bedside or have the dictation function at-the-ready on their smart phone.

When we, as an agency, are in the midst of creative concepting we give our teams as much time and latitude as possible. We also welcome clients to brainstorm with us, with the caveat that fewer meetings and more unscheduled free-form interactions are the proven formula for getting the best outcomes.

  1. Transparency, accessibility, and a willingness to be uncomfortable

You’ve heard the adage that clients get the work that they deserve. In our experience, that’s true, as great creative is fueled by active client engagement. Its client guidance that ensures that the agency understands the finer nuances of the campaign’s objectives, whom the key decision makers will be, and what success looks like for them. That’s the transparency piece.

Agencies also are heavily reliant on clients to be accessible and responsive to us throughout the process, as the closer we get to identifying possible creative solutions, the more questions we are likely to have. Since we are usually facing a tight deadline, we depend upon clients to get back to us as quickly as possible, so that time is not lost going down proverbial rabbit holes. 

And last, but perhaps the hardest ‘ask’ of all, is that we want our clients to trust us enough to accept that our work may make them feel uncomfortable. Great creative must command attention, have a point-of-view, and should never be predictable.  If it’s intended to change behavior, clients and target audiences have to feel it. If the work doesn’t give you goose bumps, a quickened pulse, or make you a little nervous, how will it ever change the mindset of your intended customer?

As your agency, our job at Glue would be to find that magical idea that slices through the noise and hum of the status quo without being off-putting or inflammatory. Creative that leverages insights to do just that will capture the imagination of your customer and do what advertising does best—sell!    

For more examples of big-agency thinking, without the big agency, visit glueadvertising.com/#work

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