Permission to do better creative

Recently I criticized some creative work and was in turn criticized for doing so. My client told me that, while the work wasn’t out of the box, it was "solid, and besides - the client is conservative and a small business manager" - meaning risk-averse? I’ve heard this sort of defense frequently enough over the years that it's prompted this little rant. 

Any and all creative ideas or work that you + your agency presents should leverage your client's USP. Your job is to turn the client’s advertising expenditures (both media + creative) into wise business building investments. The difference between a good and a great ad campaign begins with a different mental perspective; like figuring out how to help the brand stand out from the crowd while remaining “on brand”.

Relative to your competition . . . you can make a brand stand out with greater REACH (using as more media channels), greater FREQUENCY (telling the story more often), greater RELEVANCE (breaking down and effectively describing as many relevant product or service benefits as possible), and MORE STOPPING POWER (doing something that stops the audience, causing them to take notice of and comprehend your message - and then take positive action). 

When ad agencies review their portfolio to see which work should be submitted for an award, they're invariably looking at message relevance in the context of stopping power.

When agencies recruit graphic artists or writers they too look at the candidate's portfolio and judge the body of work's message relevance in the context of stopping power.

Ads with a lot of sales potential need to be sold to the client first. To reduce un-billable agency (client related hours) it's helpful for the account team to know what kind of work the client will buy, and to make that clear to the creative team. 

Because not all clients are created equal consider "gauging" you client's risk tolerance when it comes to both MEDIA + CREATIVE work. After all, the two must work hand-in-hand.

Ask your clients questions regarding their perspective on communications risk - and how your agency can help them manage it.

Is the "same-old-same-old" the lane they really want to live and die in, or is there some room + desire to explore new ways of reaching and talking to the audience

What specifically is "risky" for them - and what isn't? Don't assume . . . ask. 

How does an understanding of the client's specific "risk triggers" open up opportunities for you and the agency to do better work for the client - on time, on budget and on brand? 

Are they willing to set aside a "new media ideas" testing budget? 

Are they willing to set aside a "new creative ideas" testing budget?

Can the agency and the client agree on realistic, outcomes and metrics that will help you steer future media and creative discussions, recommendations and marketing plans? If so - great. If not - good luck.