Why Great Clients Get Great Creative

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Not all clients get the same creative results, even when working with same agencies and same creative teams. In fact, even the same company can get differing results when working with the same agency. Why is this? Because the creativity is the result of many inputs including vital participation from the client. Clients need to appreciate the creative process and no matter whom they engage, knowledgeable clients understand that being a great client is a vital ingredient in producing great creative.

Creativity exists in part in the mind of the creative person, or the “inventor”. But consistent high quality creative output also requires understanding the creative process and the important role of the client. In this post, we will consider why some clients are “Great Clients” and why they tend to be higher quality “Great Creative”.

Client participation is obviously important in any creative process, but some clients tend to think that they can simply “outsource” the creativity to someone, provide some feedback, and get a great result while they stay focused on their core mission. Yes, it is reasonable to think of “outsourcing” the basic creative process to an “agency”. However, while the agency is the expert at the creative process, and any good agency will immerse themselves in understanding as much as they can about the client’s business…the client will always be the expert about their business and their vision for where they want to be. This is why great creative requires the right type of trust and interaction between the client and the creative agency.

Great clients are more likely to get great creative because they:

  1. Value the Creative Process – getting a great advertisement, or brand design, or website doesn’t just happen like magic. Great creative goes through a process that includes time, budget, and people as well as expectations, dreams and fears. Clients need to appreciate that they cannot have the same expectations for a 2 week project costing $5,000 as one taking 20 weeks and costing $50,000. Clients that set realistic expectations and allocate the right level of time and budget to a project will get significantly better outcomes.
  2. Provide Clear Direction – creative teams can think of endless possibilities and hundreds of directions to pursue. But getting the right client result requires channeling creativity in the right direction. Clients need to be clear about what types of direction to pursue and what NOT to pursue. It’s helpful for the client to share their ideas on what types of things they like and don’t like in order to establish common ground and focus the energy of the creative team where is it more likely to bear fruit.
  3. Are Open Minded – we all have preconceived ideas. We all have hidden dreams, thoughts and aspirations about our business and where it is headed. We may want to copy or emulate something we’ve seen somewhere else. But great clients recognize it is important to open their mind and give the agency the opportunity to do what they were hired to do. If you can’t understand why a certain creative option is being presented, just ask where that concept is coming from. Even if you don’t like it at all, it’s a very important part of the process to understand what motivated them to create the idea. There may be an important nugget in there that, when understood, can unlock a key to something really breakthrough in the next round.
  4. Give Honest, Detailed Feedback – If you like something, say so. If you don’t care for something and never want to see it again, say so. If you like half of one concept and a different half of another one, say so. Many clients share there likes and dislikes, but stop their feedback by saying something like “that doesn’t do it for me, I want some changes”. But great clients go the important next step and share the “Whys” behind their judgment. Even though it is hard to put feelings about a design into words, it is very important to do so. Great clients don’t worry about how they say it. They talk about it with the agency because the trust the agency to work with them to uncover the underlying thoughts that are generating the outward feelings. Only by flushing out these deep seated emotional drivers, will the creative team know the best path forward.

The creative process and the creative mind require these vital client inputs in order to help generate consistently high quality outcomes. This is why clients that don’t value the creative process, give vague direction, don’t open up to new ideas, and are unable to provide clear feedback are unlikely to get great creative results, even if they select a great agency. And, conversely, for the reasons captured here…this is why great clients are far more likely to get creative.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Rick Thompson
Rick's passion for building brands and innovative marketing programs makes him an ideal partner for companies that want to build a strong brand that engages customers and drives revenue and profit. His experience in owning the P&L as a line manager help him appreciate that the goal of all branding and marketing is to drive the bottom line.

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