I recently started working with a great new client. The relationship is so enjoyable and productive, I wonder why all client/creative relationships can’t be this way. If you are a client, here are a few things you can do to make this happen.
1. Care about your job. If you treat your advertising as just another mechanical process that you get paid for, it’s hard for your copywriters to get enthusiastic. The truth is that what you are doing for your company is terribly important because, like Roy Chitwood says, nothing happens until somebody sells something and your efforts are what make the sales begin. Believe in what you are doing and it will show and I will work harder for you.
2. Get your shit together. Nothing is more disheartening to me than to have a bunch of stuff dumped on me that my client hasn’t read and isn’t familiar with when I ask questions. If it’s not important enough for you to review and organize the source material, why should it be important to me? That overused word “curate” is relevant here. Like a museum director, you should curate the research documents so I can discover each one in proper context. And, needless to say, you should include a creative brief.
3. Set realistic schedules. Given enough money, yes I can meet that tomorrow morning deadline. But there’s a hidden price for that. I need time to explore options and if you always begin with an impossibly short deadline (doesn’t matter whether it is your own disorganization or client pushback, the net effect is the same) you will lose valuable creative development time while paradoxically paying more. It’s also much less satisfying for the copywriter or art director because they know the finished product might have been better if they had more time.
4. Provide constructive feedback. Don’t say you don’t like it. Don’t unilaterally rewrite it. Instead, tell me in as much detail as you can what you think of my copy and why. This particular great client couldn’t decide which of my headline approaches (long vs short) worked best so they put them in layout so we could both look at them together. Now I am falling all over myself trying to do the best possible revision.
5. Defend the work. Don’t come back and tell me we have to water down a marketing statement or replace strong copy with jargon because “sales won’t accept that” or “this may be too edgy for our reader”. You clearly outlined the project and any sacred cows in the creative brief (you did write that, yes?) and if the end product follows that direction your responsibility is to sell it internally. It is my personal hunch that push-back from sales is a sign of fear: they aren’t confident in their ability to do their job so every effort to support them is looked at with suspicion. Don’t get sucked into this zero sum game. Confidently defend your marketing decisions because you believe in them. (See #1 above.)
6. Say thank you. If you follow the above steps you will get a pretty amazing creative result so don’t forget to say you are grateful. And don’t be surprised if your creatives are just as grateful and continue to do their best work on your behalf.
7. Pay on time.