Unleash Greatness

Co-Creating Quality Creative Work

By Julie Barakat

Manufacturing leaders elect to bring in a marketing agency because they feel that it will accelerate their ability to grow the business. They believe that if the agency is good enough or knows them well enough, they will be able to produce quality creative with a minimum of their input.

The problem with this approach is that quality creative is so much more. It is always the product of collaboration and access. Access to not only strategic goals and objectives, but also to subject matter experts, sales people, and other key customer facing roles. This collaboration and access can provide us with deep insights into your buying audience and what will spur them into action.

To get the results you are looking for, a shift in mindset may be needed, from us vs. them, to co-creators.

Here are five ways you can partner with your agency more effectively to co-create quality creative work:

1. Provide us with access to the information we need.

The quality of the end product will be directly connected to the amount of access we have to the information we need to execute the creative process. When a new project request is submitted and doesn’t have the right level of detail, the creative team is forced to make all kinds of assumptions – it may look good but will it be as effective as it could be? As experienced creative professionals, we know what we need to be successful and if we don’t get that information, it’s tough to get it right the first (or the second, or the third) time.

Even if we have been working together for a long time, we not only know what you are looking for, we also know what type of input and information will be required to deliver something we know you’ll like and will be effective. Providing us with access to the information we need increases our ability to create and deliver multiple solutions that will all work.

2. Help us get our questions answered.

The heart of the effective creative process resides in the “why” we’re doing the project as much as in the “what” and “for whom”. The goals and objectives of the creative process are just a starting point. Experienced creative professionals take that information and dig deeper. We ask questions such as, “Why did this topic come up?, Why is important to the customer?, “Why is this message so important that we need to put it in creative that will result in an outbound message?”

Creatives are also storytellers. We need to know, “What’s the story here?” and “What’s the feeling you are seeking for your audience to take away from this new piece of work?” It’s the answers to these questions that send us in the right direction.

3. Let us help.

You might not have the time to get us the answers we know we need to move forward effectively, and we know that. We’re on your side. If you can help us set up meetings with your subject matter experts and sales teams, we’ll interview them and get what we need to ensure what we end up saying is in alignment with what customers and prospects actually want to hear. And, if you run into any resistance, you can always ask us to help you articulate why we need those meetings, and what’s in it for them, too.

4. Be upfront about project timelines and budgets.

The greatest creative in the world won’t do either of us any good if it doesn’t get done on time or the solution we present isn’t matched to your budget. Planning ahead gives us adequate time to ideate and execute great creative. However, we understand that sometimes you also need it yesterday. If that’s the case, we’ll need a lot more information up front – and fast.

Setting clear expectations about timelines and budget are critical to making sure the creative will be ready to be deployed, especially when it comes to larger integrated campaigns. For example, if the end product is a printed mailer, we need to know when you want the printed piece to in the mailbox of your prospects. From there we can back into a realistic timeline for mailing, production, revisions, and initial concept and ideation. If we aren’t working with an accurate timeline, some part of the process likely will get short changed in the rush to get the piece done, which could reduce its impact.

5. Think of us as part of your team.

Optimally, your team and our creative team will work together to create a safe place for everyone to share ideas, ideate new ideas together, and share constructive criticism. Cultivating these relationships between client and creative teams improves the quality and efficiency of everyone’s work. Once this strong relationship is established, we will begin to speak the same language and can work together more seamlessly toward your goal.

Be open-minded to input and new ideas while remaining clear and firm about what the project parameters are and what the end result needs to be. We can handle it. Embrace our creative team as part of your team and provide us with specific and constructive feedback on the good and the bad.

Quality creative work is the product of effective collaboration between client and agency, a co-creative process in which the agency and client share responsibility for the outcome. Working this way ensures both client and agency will be satisfied with the results and makes everyone’s life easier in the process.

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