Tag Archives: creative brief

Creative Development Post-Pandemic

31 Jul

Creative IdeasFew would debate that creative development services are one of the most critical skill sets provided to advertisers by their agency partners. Thus, as agencies the world over adjust to their employees working remotely it is natural to wonder how this dynamic will reshape creativity?

“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.” ~ Theodore Levitt

How, for example, will working remotely impact the gathering and imparting of knowledge, insights and inspiration between advertiser and agency? Between creative directors and their teams? Between agencies and their production resources?

The answers to these questions, and others, require multi-disciplinary inputs that will necessarily impact creative workflows and timelines. Whether in the context of the creative briefing and approval processes, creative asset management or the trafficking of finished work, advertisers and agencies alike will need to rethink the procedures that guide this process from end-to-end.

Once creative processes have been reviewed, mapped and guidelines issued, stakeholders must shift their attention to “execution,” which is central to successful innovation (doing new things right).

The first item to be addressed is the creative brief. Relationships in which advertisers and their agency partners had implemented and honed a solid briefing process, pre-COVID, will find themselves ahead of the game. Evolving the tools and procedures related to both the joint and internal agency briefing process is infinitely easier than creating them from scratch.

During the creative ideation phase, a remote working environment presents a unique set of challenges, the least of which is the collaborative process between creative leadership, art director, copywriter, content producer, etc. To this end, in a London Business School article by Richard Hynter the author mused about what the pandemic can teach us about creativity. This included his belief that practitioners will need to focus their orientation and efforts on three components of creativity; expertise, thinking skills and motivation. How agency creative management adapts its approach to address these areas will greatly aid and abet its creative development process… and outputs.

For most of us, it is likely that over the course of the last several months, we’ve logged more time on web-conferences, Zoom meetings and conference calls than one would care to. Welcome to the “new normal.” Along the way, we have experienced the subtleties of presenting data, proposals and yes, creative using these tools. While not ideal, being able to hone one’s skills to embellish the presentation of creative concepts is essential to secure client buy-in to an agency’s creative recommendations. How these presentations are staged, who attends and how feedback is shared will be critical to the creative approval process and, in turn, the development timetable.

Wash, rinse and repeat…

With client sign-off secured, ad agency creative personnel must set about briefing third-party vendors (i.e. production houses, illustrators, animators, digital video editors, etc.) to solicit proposals, begin work and to coordinate the ad production process. Managing the production workflow across multiple organizations, with employees working remotely will require adept project management and creative asset management skills along with a robust technology platform(s) to facilitate. Having a centralized creative file management system, will greatly assist the creative development, review, approval, tagging, delivery and tracking phases of the process, whether work is completed at the office or remotely.

Based upon casual observations of the creative that has been produced and placed since the onset of the pandemic earlier this year, agencies and advertisers have done an excellent job adapting to the new environment. Continuing to refine the processes already employed and implementing new tools and guidelines to assist a remote workforce will only help drive creativity on a post-pandemic basis.

4 Quick Steps to Boost Marketing Efficiency… Now

21 May

EfficiencyDriving performance, improving efficiency and boosting working dollars are three primary focus areas of marketers the world over. COVID-19 and the related budgetary pressures aside, this has been a focus of marketers and will continue to be, well into the future.

The quickest and often simplest path to attaining these objectives relates directly to process improvements that are well within a Chief Marketing Officer’s sphere of influence.

Below is an overview of the four key process steps that marketers can and should consider evaluating for potential improvement opportunities:

  1. Review the creative development and media planning briefing process with the goal of enhancing the efficacy of this essential practice and applying it appropriately to the ongoing client-agency workflow. A poorly conceived or ambiguous brief drives project costs, causes delays and can result in lackluster outputs.
  2. Streamline the review and approval process to cut down on delays and agency re-work. Minimize unnecessary rounds of review at the ideation and planning stages to mitigate the risk of excess agency staff time or excess costs creeping into the project.
  3. Extend current campaigns and or repurpose proven work rather than undertake the risk and expense of creating new content for select brands and or promotions. For many marketers, brand support and promotional events are often repeated annually / seasonally, allowing them the opportunity to modify and reapply existing plans, approaches and content rather than investing in the development of new approaches.
  4. Encourage the agencies to close and reconcile jobs and campaigns in a concise and timely manner to account for and return unspent funds. Nothing good happens when approved, often pre-paid dollars are left unreconciled for extended periods of time. Marketers should require their agency partners to close jobs quickly, once completed, and true-up actual costs immediately following job closure.

The above areas, if not applied and managed properly, are the source of significant inefficiency which limits a marketers return on investment. As American businessman and author, John Rampton once said:

Make no mistake about it. Bad habits are called ‘bad’ for a reason. They kill productivity and creativity. They slow us down. They hold us back from achieving our goals. And they’re detrimental to our health.”

 

 

 

 

Assignment Briefing Process: A Three Step Approach

30 May

assignment briefing processIt should be clear that advertisers’ “own” brand strategy and are therefore responsible for the assignment briefing process. With multiple agencies making up an advertisers marketing services vendor network, how can you have it any other way? Coordinating efforts across this collection of specialist agencies to achieve innovative, impactful, integrated marketing campaigns that deliver on the organization’s goals is the responsibility of the Marketing Team, which is ultimately accountable for generating a return on marketing investment.

There was an intriguing piece written in Advertising Age recently by Casey Jones of Jones & Bonevac on the assignment briefing process that identified results from a recently fielded survey by his firm. The survey found that 54% of agencies surveyed said that “fewer than 40% of the client briefs provided gave a clear indication of what the client expected from the agency.” And of that number; “… 30% said only 1% – 10% of briefs provide clear performance expectations.” This is an issue which creates pitfalls ranging from wasted time and money to ineffective marketing outputs and client/agency discord.

The remedy to this problem requires three relatively straight forward steps. The first is the easiest… develop an assignment brief template containing the requisite information fields necessary to be completed by the Marketing representatives responsible for the brief development. This would include information such as brand value propositions, key competitive differentiators, target audience insights, market/ competitive overview, historical brand performance data and quantifiable objectives for the project. Secondly, formalize an internal review and approval process which includes key stakeholders and senior Marketing management to provide an opportunity for both strategic input and discussion surrounding assignment “success” criteria and how the attainment of those criteria align with the organization’s objectives. Thirdly, construct a concise assignment briefing meeting format that the organization follows to present the approved brief to their agency partners, engage in dialogue with the agency representatives and clarify each agencies roles, responsibilities and deliverables.

Professionals within both the client and agency organizations are intelligent, motivated and desirous of a successful campaign outcome, thus formalizing a framework for the assignment brief can immediately improve the efficacy and efficiency of the entire creative development process. Why? A tighter assignment briefing process results in better creative briefs and stronger creative outputs.

 

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