August 18, 2014
For most Brand Leaders, it can take quite a lot of experience to finally get good at Advertising. Getting good Advertising is very hard. In fact, it’s likely the most complex part of marketing, because it’s where everything comes together–your consumer, your brand strategy, your positioning and every opinion in your entire company. It’s hard for a Brand Leader to manage at times and it can be hard to find that missing ad you’ve been looking for. If you want to see a company struggling on Advertising, look at Wendy’s and the lack of consistency they’ve had since Dave Thomas.
What makes some Brand Leaders GOOD at Advertising?
Simple put, they are able to consistently get good advertising on the air, and keep bad advertising off the air.
That might sound like a simple answer, but it is actually a very complex. From my experience, I’ve rarely encountered an easy process for getting to great work. All the great ads ad had a long list of doubters, detractors and obstacles to maneuver or overcome. There is always a near breaking point. You should almost be scared when it goes too easily. Must mean it’s too safe.
Brand Leaders tend to doubt themselves. You Never Find Your Comfort Zone: You are convinced you’re not good at advertising. No experience, feel awkward or had a bad experience. You think you’re strategic, not tactical. You are skeptical, uptight, too tough and too easily annoyed. You Don’t Know If It’s Really Your Place to Say Something: You figure the ad agency is the expert—that’s why we pay them—so you give them a free reign (aka no direction). Or worse, you give them the chance to mess up, and blame them later. You settle for something you hate, because of time pressure, or you don’t know why: You don’t really love it, but it seems ok for now. The agency says if we don’t go for it now, we’ll miss our air date and have to give up our media to another brand. You can’t sell it in to management: you need to make sure if it’s the right thing to do, you are able to sell the idea in. Tell them how it works for your brand—and how it delivers the strategy.
Brand Leaders also doubt their Agency. These factors start when the Agency writes a brief you don’t like—or you box them into a strategy they aren’t really big on. If either of you force a strategy on the other, then you’re off to a bad start. You need to have some deep rich discussions to get on the same page, literally. You feel the Creative team over sells you: you get hood-winked with the “we are so excited” speech: You’re not sure what you want, so you settle for an OK ad in front of you—the best of what you saw. Ask yourself what’s missing before you buy. You lose connection with the Agency: Agencies are more emotional than clients. But they want to make great work. Keep your agency motivated so that you become the client they want to make great work on, rather than the client they have to work on. You lose traction through the production and Edit: Talent, lighting, directors and edits can reflect tone—if the tone changes from the board to the edit, then so does your ad. You should make sure the final edit matches your vision of the board.
As David Ogilvy said: “clients get the advertising they deserve”. Taking that one step farther: An OK agency can do great work on a great client. But a great agency will fail with a bad client. The question Brand Leaders need to be asking: If you knew that being a better client got you better advertising, would you actually be able to show up better?
Being a great Brand Leader starts with your Behavior
The best Brand Leaders dig in and do their homework. Everything they do starts and ends with the Consumer in mind. Use Insights to connect.
You tightly Control the Strategy, yet give the agency Freedom on Creative. You Focus the Brief on one objective, one target market, one big idea, one benefit. Start with the Desired Consumer Response, and then figure out what to say. You always Think Strategically yet Act Instinctually.
When it comes to the creative work, great Brand Leaders can Inspire greatness from creative team, yet unafraid to Challenge for better. Be open yet decisive: know what you Want, but never know until you See It. You take creative risks to Stand Out, not fit in, yet the perfect tone for your brand. See Big Ideas that leave a Legacy, not just make an ad to make the year.
A lot of times, it’s the company holding back great advertising. A great Brand Leader is willing to Fight for great work, even with your boss. You never settle for OK.
Brand Leaders need to be strong at every stage along the way in the Advertising Process
You have to dig in on the Pre Work, before you get to the brief. Do the work on Insights, create a Big Idea and lay out Brand Concept and know it motivates. Write a very Focused Brief. Need one Objective, insights, desired response, one Benefit, RTB. Create the box
Hold a Creative Expectations where you meet with the creative team before that first creative meeting. It’s a chance for clarifying your first impressions on your vision, passion. Inspire and focus creative team. I recommend you hold a Tissue Session, especially when you don’t have a campaign. Be open to new ways of looking at your brand. Focus on Big Ideas, push for better.
At the Creative Meeting, be positive, focus only on big picture, give direction, make decisions. No solutions. No Details. Are you inspiring? Hold off on getting all detailed in that creative meeting and take a day or two to write a Feedback Memo that is detailed, challenging but without giving specific solutions. If the creative brief creates a box for the creative team to solve “in the box” solutions to your problem, then your feedback should also create a new box. Give the creative team a NEW problem, not your solutions to the problem.
Gaining Approval is one of the biggest factors separating good from great. You have to keep your boss informed at each stage from the brief to the first creative ideas, always leading the discussion on where you want to take it. If you use Ad Testing, use it to confirm your pick, not make your decision. As you sell in the Ad, be ready for resistance and be ready to fight any internal resisters to make it happen.
As you go into production, give some room to the experts but always get what you want. It’s important for you to manage the Tone to fit the brand. Always, get more than you need. At the Post Production, I always recommend talking directly with and leverage every expert in the room. You’d be shocked how few Brand Leaders do this, figuring it’s not their place.
To get better Advertising, Brand Leaders need to show up better within the Advertising Process. As you look at the process above, here are eight Challenges to Brand Leaders to push you to be better at Advertising
- Do you develop a testable Brand Concept with rational and emotional benefits, plus support points that you know are actually motivating?
- How tight is your Brief? Do you narrow the Target with engaging insights? Do you focus on the desired consumer response before deciding what your brand should say? Do you focus on One Benefit and OneMessage?
- Do you meet creative team before the first creative meeting to connect, align them with your vision and inspire them to push for great work?
- Do you hold Tissue Sessions to narrow solutions before going to scripts?
- At creative meetings, do you stay big picture, avoid getting into details? When giving direction, do you avoid giving your own solutions and but rather try to create a “new box” for the creative team to figure out the solutions?
- Do you take creative risks, and willing to be different to stand out? To break through the clutter with your brand story, Brand Leaders have to get comfortable being “different”. Brand Leaders start to tense up when things get “too different”
- Do you manage your boss at every stage? Do you sell them, on your vision what you want? Are you willing to fight for great work?
- Are you one of your Agency’s favorite clients? Do they “want to” or do they “have to” work on your business?
Getting Great Advertising is a Balance between Freedom and Control.
Most Marketers allow too much FREEDOM on the strategy but want to exhibit CONTROL on the creative. It seems odd because it should be the reverse. You should control the Strategy and give freedom on the Execution.
The Advertising Strategy sets up the Creative Brief. Within a good brand plan, you should have an advertising strategy that should answer the following five key questions.
- Who Do We want to sell to? (Who is your Target Consumer?)
- What are we selling? (What is your Benefit?) and Why should they believe us? (Reason To Believe)
- What Do We want the Advertising to do for the brand? (Strategic Choices)
- What do Want people to think, feel or do? (Desired Response)
- What’s the long range feeling the brand evokes (The Big Idea)
These Five questions form your Advertising Strategy before you get to a Creative Brief.
The best advertising comes from doing your HOMEWORK. The idea of a Creative Brief is to “create a Box” Creative people are motivated by the challenge of the problem, more than the execution of a simple solution. Give them a problem. The role of the brief is to create the right box, enough room to move, but enough direction that defines the problem. A good brief should isolate the task to coming up with Creative that expresses the strategy. Do not come up with strategy through the creative.
Things Creative people don’t want:
- A blank canvas: They prefer a problem that they need to solve through creativity. As mentioned above, Creative Advertising people are more problem solvers than they are blue sky thinkers.
- An unclear problem: They don’t want endless streams of data. They don’t want so many options built into a brief, they don’t know where to start. Giving information “just in case” is confusing for them. They need focus in order to deliver great work for you.
- Your Solutions: They find it demotivating to be asked for their expertise (solving problems) and then not utilized (given the answer)Stop writing copy. When I need to articulate creative “bad ideas”, I try such hyperbole to make sure it is “really bad”.
In the creative meeting, Brand Leaders need to sort through their thoughts
Ask do you love it? How passionate are you? If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it? If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta ok” in the end. But if you love it, you’ll go the extra mile and make it amazing. You’re not doing anyone a favor keeping work you don’t love. Eventually, you won’t fight for it and give up on it.
Reach for your gut reaction. What’s your immediate reaction when you reach for your instincts? Relax, slow yourself down enough to soak it in, right in the meeting. It’s easier to quickly reject out of fear than find what your gut really says. Many times, instincts get hidden away because of the job.
Is it on strategy? Is the Ad an expression of what you wrote in your strategy documents? Use the ABCS to help frame things, so you can evaluate it past how you feel. The tool gives you something to ground yourself. Take your time with this thinking.
What is the long term potential? Is it BIG IDEA, you can see lasting for 5-10 years, going across various mediums (mass, on line, in store), capable of speaking of the entire product line up, Think about leaving a legacy—which forces you to think of campaign-ability.
If you knew that being a better client got you better advertising, would you actually be able to show up better?
At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on HOW TO BE BETTER AT ADVERTISING, click on the powerpoint presentation below:
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