Why Agencies Need to Deliver More Than Creative Work

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

This week’s blog is from Bill Green, Geekend speaker, creative brain, trendsetter, milestone breaker, and serious brand maker.  Bill has the experience (and the client portfolio to prove it) and insight to dish on all things “agency”, so read on as he points out where true value hides in client relationships. FYI – – The Creative Coast’s blogspot is Savannah’s sounding board for local thinkers, innovators, wanderers and wonders. Guest bloggers share their thoughts, opinions and creative noodling from all over the map….

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When we decided to participate in this year’s Geekend, one of the earlier topics we considered had to do with agencies and how they work with brands. Specifically, how the real challenges still faced by brands have far less to do with the actual creative work than they themselves realize.

It’s obvious that we’re in a time when content creation, media integration and technology adoption has changed the brandscape for companies everywhere. But no matter what their size, it’s clear that year after year, many still struggle with the types of rudimentary issues that hinder their efficiency and growth.

While the level of technical savvy we’ve seen has varied greatly, the same two issues seem to always reveal themselves:

  1. Legacy Technology
    Familiar with the overworked IT person saddled with outdated serves or website? You can often trace it back to a management stuck on the notion that they’ve already invested too much to change now, even when starting from scratch is what’s really needed.
  2. Inefficient Workflow
    Apparently it’s much easier to spend an hour of agency time deciphering a scanned copy of handwritten changes scribbled out on a printout. Why would someone ever want to make comments right in a PDF? That’s not to say agencies are perfect either, but an agency shouldn’t have to have their emails bounce back because a client firewall won’t allow a 5 MB attachment to get through.

The issue of legacy can also apply to brand management.

Regardless of their level in the organizational hierarchy, those without digital experience or awareness present agencies and their own internal teams with a different set of challenges. Namely, they bring an advocacy for outdated methodologies and habits that are counter intuitive, creating pain points for both sides of the agency/client dynamic.

Then there’s the product development person switched over to a marketing role.

That person who was once buried in a production pipeline lasting two years? They’ll quickly discover how compressed schedules become for marketing deliverables, especially digital ones. These hurdles invariably affect the agency in terms of managing realistic workflow expectations.

So how can agencies help brands do better?

  1. Bring unsexy back.
    Move beyond the ad campaign and help clients with process. Apply the same mindset to the non-creative side of the equation and provide your clients with solutions that offer the brand real value internally.
  2. You show me yours.
    We often take part in brand immersions lasting days, all in an attempt to better understand our clients. Then a check gets cashed and work begins. Instead, before the project begins, why not first have an agency immersion to educate brand teams on the particulars of how you do things?
  3. Open your eyes.
    Start with the client’s digital presence on web and social. Take it further and conduct an internal audit covering some of their other challenges, or identify and discuss workflow issues you’ve experienced firsthand with them.
  4. Have a conversation.
    Even traditional marketing agencies that don’t have a robust digital presence can still address issues like infrastructure, hosting platforms or ecommerce needs. It’s surprising what having a casual conversation with your client’s IT person can yield. Hearing their day-to-day challenges provides better learnings for the agency to act on.
  5. Start small.
    Even if you don’t currently have in-house resources, start by bringing in a freelance IT consultant and schedule a discovery meeting with clients. Being proactive in figuring out ways to help them while remaining relevant as an agency goes a long way.

Some of these issues are actually easier to address than they appear, but solving real problems is what agencies are supposed to do. Instead of complaining about clients, relearn them and their needs from time to time.

See you at Geekend!

Bill

Bill Green is Chief of Strategy at Noble Mouse, a full-service creative agency specializing in award-winning interactive experiences. Based in Savannah with offices in Los Angeles, they focus on digital experiences for brands of all types, including Warner Bros (Harry Potter), Disney, Remington, NBC.com, and the Oprah Winfrey Network, among others. You can also find Bill on AdVerve, the advertising podcast and blog he co-created, as well as Twitter. Reach him at bill@noblemouse.com.

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