Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Marketers' Aha moments reveal the pressure points in Agency-Client Relationships

Adtherapy runs a series of workshops with Marketers called "Creative Fitness."

It is a programme designed to help marketers to get the best out of their agencies, by understanding the process and the key components in getting from good to great advertising. 

We look at the briefing process. We interrogate how to generate insights. We look at what happens to a client brief once inside the agency (the creative brief). 

We talk about the creative 'tap' - how we want it to be open as that's when you get the best value for money - when the best creative brains want to work on your business. The 'creative tap' closes when there are too many reverts or when the feedback is too prescriptive and it becomes ' give them what they want so we can get it out of here'. That's not good use of your money. The hourly rate is the same whether the tap is open or closed! 

So we talk about building relationships and  learning how to evaluate ideas/executions in order to give feedback that is constructive and inspirational.

All good stuff, right? (You can read more about the programme here.) 

Having run a number of them this year, I thought it might be fun to reflect on the Aha! moments that come of the exercises we ask the delegates to do. These usually come out when we ask our Monday Question: so, what are you going to do differently on Monday?


In no particular order, here are the most often uttered Aha!s:
  1. I'm going to give my agency more time. 
  2. I'm going to spend more time planning, and writing, my brief.
  3. I'm going to keep my briefs shorter.
  4. I'm going to look for the good in a creative presentation, not just look for what's wrong.
  5. I'm going to 'market marketing' inside my organisation.
  6. I'm going to look for deeper consumer insights.
  7. I'm going to spend more time talking to consumers.
  8. I'm going to make time to do the brand work that isn't clearly articulated at the moment.
  9. I'm going to make my briefs inspiring.
  10. I'm going to learn how to evaluate ads so I can have the language to give constructive feedback.
  11. I'm going to set up what the brief was and who the target market is before I ask someone in the corridor whether they like the ad.
  12. I'm going to collate feedback from everyone involved so we limit reverts.
  13. I'm going to spend more time looking at great work so I understand what it looks like.
  14. I'm going to be less prescriptive.
  15. I'm going to build a stronger relationship with my agency. 

And there are more. Marketers realise how hard it is when confronted by a brief and a blank page. They realise how much harder it is when given too little information. They also have an aha! about how difficult it is to choose the best option when presented with a pile of ideas. That shows them the value of the Creative Director, the job he or she performs and the unique skill-set they have.
Image courtesy of adamr/

At the end of the programme, we find that there is a renewed sense of excitement about their ability to do great work. A renewed commitment to their role in providing the inputs to the agency that will lead to that great work. And a renewed promise to work with their agencies in a way that will no doubt prove invaluable to the most important person in the process: the consumer.

What these learnings also show me is the pressure points in this tricky space between logic and magic, between expectation and delivery, in an area that is super subjective. Maybe if marketers used these Aha's as a How To list, things could work a whole lot better?

For more information about the Creative Fitness Programme, or to find out more about Adtherapy's other training, mentoring and consulting programmes, visit or better yet contact Gillian:  m: 0832659099 or email