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4 Tips to Get Great Work from Your Ad Agency

By: Tyler Anderson

Read time: 5 Minutes

Many of our clients saw some form of noticeable change in their business in the past year, whether that was due to increased demand, supply issues, labor shortage, reduced marketing spend or otherwise. Regardless of the specific business context, the need for or the value of a strong client-agency relationship is a constant in the advertising business and continues to prove important in the best of times and, if the past 18 months have taught us anything, vital during the worst of times.

No matter how the makeup of your team or advertising agency partners may have changed, here are four universal tips to reset and get back to creating great work for your brand in the upcoming planning cycle.

 

Establish mutual respect and commitment to collaboration

Respect comes from understanding and appreciating every team member’s unique role, and strong collaboration is at the center of any great client-to-ad-agency relationship. Gone are the Mad Men days where a campaign was a print ad, and the entire team consisted of an art director and copywriter. Today’s integrated campaigns require an entire village of professionals to plan, execute, and optimize.

Now more than ever a successful campaign requires increased and intentional collaboration, diversity, and input-based strategy. During a video call, you may notice people with titles like Consumer Experience Manager, UX Writer, or other unfamiliar, specific job titles. Take the time to invest in teaching and understanding how new and different disciplines can contribute to a larger team that fosters an environment of fresh and unparalleled insights.

Take action: When was the last time your agency had a presentation of its capabilities? What areas of expertise do you want to learn about? What steps will you take to ensure a commitment to enhanced collaboration with your teams?

 

Ground creative briefs in solid strategies

You don’t need a fancy brand or big budget to make great work or to have an impact on people, behavior, and culture. All you need is a solid strategy. Solid strategies can almost always be traced to insight and data, that is where a powerful client to agency partnership shines.

As pointed out by IDEO’s Global Design Director, Coe Leta Stafford, “Many businesses are in touch with their customers from an information perspective, but not necessarily an insights perspective.” Clients have an opportunity to empower their agency partner to seek fresh, new insights. Doing so requires a commitment in the form of additional time and investment, but the result can turn information into inspiration that deeply resonates with your target audience.

Take Action: What does the “brief development” phase look like at your company and with your agency? Where do your insights come from and what do you do with them? What new insights will impact your business strategy in 2022 and beyond?

Venn diagram; left circle = Client Data, right circle = Agency Insight, Middle “Sweet Spot” = Solid Strategy

Better understanding of the creative process

Creativity is looking for something new, something that hasn’t been done before. To get the best work from your agency partner, it’s important to understand the creative process.

The ability to be conceptual while ideas are in their infancy reflects a collaborative “yes, and” mentality, which is vital to making good work great. As a business leader, build a culture that allows for raw ideas, bonus concepts, and a creative process.

Harvard Business Review found that those who do embrace creativity and experimentation win as, “Overperforming companies are three times as likely as underperformers to embrace a culture of experimentation.” So go ahead and support the crazy ones and their crazy process, especially when it comes to experimental thinking for your business.

Take action: What does the creative process look like between you and your agency? What about the planning process? When do you get involved in the creative process? When was the last time your brand has experimented or taken a creative risk? What was the result?

 

Identify personal strategies to nurture creativity

Nurturing the creativity of your agency and your team on an ongoing basis is critical to producing consistently great work. Here are a few personal strategies:

  • Embrace your role – As the client, you are the business, brand and product expert. Set priorities for your contribution to the work and trust the experts that complement your core competency.
  • Wear the brief – You are likely not the target of the advertisement. Have empathy for your audience, ensure the benefit is conveyed, determine if the work is on brand and on message.
  • Start with a compliment – Not just because the creative director needs to be praised. Doing so is an easy ice breaker that will help you involve yourself in the work before getting down to brass tacks.
  • Ask questions – Before jumping to a conclusion, ask questions for context, like “Can you tell me how you got here?” or “What sets this apart in your eyes?”
  • Be honest – If an idea or a concept isn’t working, that’s OK. Helping your agency understand why will prevent history from repeating itself.

The makeup of your team, agency or marketing budget may look a little different this year than it did last year, whether due to the need to downsize for longevity or expand for growth. Getting a return on your agency investment is more critical than ever.

 

At Hoffman York, everything we do centers around our RO! philosophy, or, as we call it, Return on Ideas. Getting a great Return on Ideas takes a client/agency relationship that demonstrates a culture of collaboration, commitment to insights, respect for the creative process and an ability to confidently provide each other with constructive feedback. See our work for clients like Yamaha Outboards, Wahl Clipper Corporation, Napoleon and more.

What actions will you take to ensure your agency ROI is as strong as ever in 2022?

 

Tyler Anderson, Account SupervisorAbout the Author:

Tyler Anderson specializes in building and modernizing brands. As a client service leader, he has been responsible for directing agency-of-record relationships for B2C and B2B brands across the spectrum of outdoor lifestyle, retail, healthcare, education, sneakers and more. In his seven-year career, he has contributed to award-winning work for adidas, USA Swimming, Napoleon, Nestle Purina and Land O’Lakes.

 

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