Because of my role as a creative advertising coach for Brand Leaders, I always get asked: “so what makes a brand leader good at advertising?” Most people are surprised by the simplicity of my answer. Brand leaders who are good at advertising can get better advertising on the air and keep bad advertising off the air. Think about that for a bit because that answer is a lot more complicated than first meets the eye. It’s not about how creative you are. It’s not just picking the right ad either.
Since Brand Leaders don’t really make the ads, how can one Brand Leader get better work than another? Well, it starts with your managing your options. When your agency presents work to you, you really only have three options you can say:
- Yes, I approve this ad.
- No, I reject this Ad.
- Maybe, but here are some tips to make it even better.
I love when I’m in a room full of Brand Leaders and I ask: “If you don’t make the advertising and you can only answer yes, no or maybe, then how can you as a Brand Leader, get better advertising?” The room goes silent, almost as they’ve never been asked this question before. Then the answers start to flow:
- “keep rejecting the bad ads until they get better ones”
- “get a new agency”
- “make sure you give detailed feedback on what to fix”.
Then I say: “Those answers might you in saying NO to bad ads and MAYBE to ok ads, but how do you get the ads that you want to say YES I approve, are amazing ads instead of just good?” The room goes silent again, as all the Brand Leaders are stumped.
And then I give my answer: You have to inspire your agency to get better advertising
There’s disbelief. “Don’t we pay the agency? We are the client. So why do we have to inspire them?”
Well, let’s look at the simple math. Most Brand Leaders only make 1 ad per year. Most agencies make 100s of spots per year. Yet you need your 1 ad to be great, so you can drive your brand’s results. The agency needs 5 ads out of 100 to win agency of the year, and about 5 to put in their pitch presentation to try to get new business. I know I keep changing the question, but maybe the better question for you is “how do you get your ONE ad that you will make this year to be one of the FIVE best ads that your agency will make this year?”
You want to get your agency’s best people to want to work on your brand and you want them to present their best ad ideas. You want the agency’s best people to go all out, put all of their passion into the work, stay late, call in favors, get the best directors and best talent to want to work on your ad.
I’m changing the question one more time: So how do you get the best people at your agency to want to work on your brand and give their best work?
The best creative people want an opportunity to make great work. And if they sense you’re the type of client who will enable them, they’ll be attracted to working on your brand. The best creative people at your agency want problems to solve. They don’t want your answers. At every stage of the process, just give them a new problem they can solve. Don’t say “make it blue” but rather say “how do we make it more bright?” They know great creative has risks and they want to see you willing to take chances.
They are always caught in the middle between you and their own creatives. They know their creatives can be a pain in the butt. You would do wonders for your relationship by not being a pain in the butt as well. They want to see you fight for the work internally, knock down barriers, get your management aligned and be passionate about the work at every stage. They want you to know how hard they work and want you to acknowledge their impact.
The best agencies want a client who wants to make great work. They want you to show it off as much as they want to. Agencies are more driven by emotion and pride than they are results. You will get better results if you can tap into the personal pride of your agency.
Your agency wants you to make work that you love and not settle for work that you think is OK.
I remember struggling one time to give feedback. And I finally said, “I just don’t love it” and I felt guilty like I was telling a girl “it’s not you, it’s me”. But the reaction of the agency surprised me because they said “we don’t want to make work you don’t love and the fact that you need to love it makes us want to make work you love” and they pulled the ad off the table. To me “I love it” is the highest bar you can set. Because if you don’t love it, then how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?
The last question: if you knew that showing up as a better client to your agency would make the work even better, then would you show up differently? I hope so.
Because that’s how a Brand Leader gets better advertising.
At Beloved Brands, ask us how we can act as a Creative Coach for you, helping you and your agency get to great creative Advertising
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