A Useful Cliche
Hire people you trust. Trust them to do what they were hired to do. It’s what agencies want from clients, staff needs from supervisors, and we look for in suppliers. It builds morale and makes organizations much more efficient.
GREAT WORK & GREAT PROCESS
Over the last decade or so, agencies have attempted to cultivate business by expanding digital capabilities, or traditional ones, or both. It’s been a rough road that has created friction and nuked relationships. I’ve witnessed it, and unknowingly contributed to it. I’ve also come away with solutions. Solutions that leverage the best of what traditional agencies and technology start ups have brought to the creative process.
CREATIVE & TECHNOLOGY
When Two Worlds Collide
In my decade and a half at BBDO, I learned a lot about making world-class creative advertising. At Modea, I took a deep dive into the digital space and developed a process that coordinates agency capabilities and staff, and generates a lot of cross-platform ideas very quickly. Ideas that get everyone excited. It builds morale and gives anyone with the predilection to take it, a shot at the big idea. I call my ideation process Three Rooms. It’s a proprietary process that can be merchandised to give an agency a competitive advantage.
ON MAKING IDEAS
The difference between good and great is a full trash can.
It applies to beginners and seasoned vets alike. If you make 10 ideas, the chances of being brilliant are so-so.
But if you make 50, the odds of reaching greatness go way up.
Client killed the idea? That’s fine, because we’ve got a million of ‘em. The most awarded Art Director in the history of One Show, Bob Barrie once said, “Sometimes your best ideas come after your clients kill your best ideas”. That doesn’t mean it's not painful when someone kills your babies, but resiliency is one of our best assets for making great work and building great client relationships.
ON FORMING RELATIONSHIPS
The key to building great relationships with clients, supervisors, and other departments is creating value. The way to create value is to understand their goals and come up with ideas to help them achieve those goals.
See Managing Up. It works the same in both directions. A good leader will identify the venn diagram overlap between an employee’s career goals, and organizational goals, then put practices in place to achieve both.
ON UNDERSTANDING CLIENTS
We birth the ideas, but clients live with them. I had this epiphany when an architect working on my house proposed an idea I didn’t care for. He defended it by pointing out the overall aesthetic would suffer without it. I objected,
“But you don’t have to live with it”.
The moment those words came out of my mouth, I understood my clients much better. Agencies develop and sell the idea, then move on. The client lives with its impact much longer.
ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT & EXPERIENCE
It's hard to know what it's like to run a company unless you been in that position. It's hard to understand why certain decisions affecting marketing are made unless you've been the one making them. I've been a partner in a motorsports company and a medical device start-up. I've learned what's at stake when you have skin in the game, That's made me more empathetic towards clients, more effective as a marketer, and more focused on how my decisions can affect the bottom line.
AND MAKE A GOOD PROFIT.
Developing brand campaigns is a negotiation–a delicate balancing act between competing interests. Clients have stuff to sell, agencies want the freedom to do their best work, and both need to grow business. The best negotiation results in all sides getting 100% of what they want. It’s not a 50-50 compromise leaving everyone half happy. It’s not always possible, but it’s always a noble pursuit. Below are some of the principles and tactics I've used to achieve success.
WHAT STORY ARE YOU TELLING?
An ideal brand story is the relevant truth. Relevant to the target and truthful about the product or service.
These days, nothing will bring down a dishonest brand faster than Yelp or Amazon reviews.
DO YOU HAVE THE STORY STRAIGHT?
Brands that can draw a straight line from the promise of the product all the way through the customer journey–across all marketing and CRM touch points–are truly maximizing brand value. The human brain constantly seeks out patterns to form its world view. What people experience in advertising, on a website, and when they open the box should feel like a consistent pattern. This creates a brain-pleasing aesthetic and an engaging brand experience.
WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CARE?
The brand story has to be relevant in two critical ways: rational and emotional. Neuroscience research tells us that purchase decisions are driven by emotion and supported by reason. Whether it's buying a home or a stick of gum, it works the same way. We fall in love (or like) with it, then come up with rational justifications for the emotional decisions we've already made. This applies to marketing when we focus the mainstream advertising and social messaging on emotional appeal, then use rational arguments to pull people through the digital purchase funnel.