A client’s cheat sheet for better work out of agencies

Boooya! It’s time. Time to make that magical call to your agency and have a kick-off. You have everything you need: No time. No money. Impatient superiors. Inattentive audience. And someone said, “make it viral”.

As someone on the receiving end of these kick-offs, let me start by saying you’re not alone. In fact, this is now the new norm. Taking a moment to concisely articulate a problem has become a thing of legend. But what if you took a minute to concisely answer six questions before making the call?

Let’s call it “focus”.

Focus guides the agency with precision and intent. (We’re busy too!)

Focus also helps you manage internal issues with clarity. Focus is as simple as answering these questions:

1. What are you doing?
2. Why are you doing it?
3. Why don’t people believe it?
4. How much risk will you take?
5. Who has the final word?
6. What does success look like?

Now you’re sitting back thinking to yourself … “That’s it?”

That’s it.

Agencies need an objective. A direction. We need a problem to solve with purpose. Once we get there the rest comes into play.

You see, creative ideas solve problems first and foremost. They’re not just art or poetry or apps or ‘likes’ … they’re business solutions for marketing needs. If they don’t solve a problem you’re probably about to make new problems by launching aimless work. Your agency (if it’s good) shouldn’t be jumping to a creative solution unless you can answer these questions first.

Questions save you time. They save us creative time and spring forth ideas such as a graceful forest stream, not an out-of-control garden hose.

For example, in the past 20 years I’ve lost count of how many times the question, “What are we doing?” has awkwardly derailed a meeting of intelligent people.

“We’re selling units right?”

“No, no we’re raising brand awareness.”

“It’s a sampling campaign, isn’t it?”

“You sure? I thought it was a one-time event?”

“But we still need an app right?”

“Doesn’t matter, just put it on Facebook, we’ll get ‘likes’. ”

Even the most hardened advertising professional can produce aimless work and, frankly speaking, there is a lot of it out there so let’s cut it down a bit.

Focus first and cover the basics.

Your success will sky rocket.
Your agency will love you.
Your sex will be better.
And the work will rock.
Let me know how it goes.

PS – I can’t promise the third point!

The writer is Ali Grayeli, executive creative director at McCann Singapore.

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