Don’t be one of these 10 worst types of advertising clients

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

I come at this from the vantage of a fellow client. I’m not an advertising agency person, never having worked a day at an ad agency in my life. I spent 20 years in brand management. But, I have seen all these types of clients. I wrote this slightly tongue-in-cheek and would like you to laugh a little, but think, “Hey, I know that person.”
I’d also like you to see a little of yourself in a few of these and if you want to be better, challenge yourself to get better and stop being that type of client.
I get asked a lot: “So what is it that makes someone good at advertising?”
The answer I give is simple: “The best brand leaders consistently get good advertising on the air and consistently keep bad advertising off the air.”

The challenge for many marketers is that it takes a lot to get good advertising on the air. The best clients respect the process, the agency, and their judgment. And yet, most Brand Leaders under-estimate the role the client plays in getting to great creative. As a Brand Leader, if you knew that showing up better would get you better advertising, do you think you could? Or are you stuck being one of these types of clients?

Here are the 10 worst types of advertising clients

#1: Those who say, “You’re the expert!” 

While you might intend this to be a compliment to your agency, it is usually a total cop-out! You end up giving your agency enough rope to hang themselves. As a brand leader, you have to realize that you play the most significant role in the process. Your agency needs you to be engaged in every stage of the process and the work. Your agency requires you to inspire and motivate the team. I have seen a good agency make fantastic advertising for a great client, but I have seen lousy clients suck the life out of the world’s best agency. As the brand leader, bring your knowledge of the brand, show your passion for great work, make clear decisions, and inspire the work towards greatness. 

#2: Those who say, “I never liked the brief” or “I never liked the script.”

Passive-aggressive clients are usually insecure about their abilities in the advertising space. They keep firing their agency instead of taking ownership over their role in the process. I guess it’s easier to fire the agency than fire yourself. A great brand leader never approves work they don’t love. If you don’t love the work you create, then how do you ever expect the consumer to love your brand?

#3: Jekyll & Hyde

When brand leaders bring significant mood swings to the ad process, it will be very hard on the agency. They try to read the room and adjust to your mood. The worst thing that can happen for you is when your mood swing alters the work, and the work moves into a direction you never intended to go. As a brand leader, you have to stay consistent, so everyone knows precisely what exactly you are thinking. Be completely transparent.

#4: Constant distrusting bad mood

Even worse than the mood swings, is when a client shows up mad all the time. I have seen clients bring a death stare to creative meetings. Hilarious scripts get presented to a room of fear and utter silence. A true brand leader must motivate and inspire all those who touch their brand. Your greatness will come from the greatness of those who work for you. Be a favorite client, so people want to work for you, never treating them like they have to work for you. Advertising should be fun. When you are having fun, so will your consumer.

#5: Speaks on behalf the mystery person who is not in the room

When the real decision-maker is not in the room, everyone second-guesses what might please that decision-maker. As a brand leader, you have to make decisions you think are right for your brand, not what your boss might say. Make the ad you want and then find a way to gain alignment and approval from your boss. The best brand leaders I know will fight anyone in the way of great work, including their boss.

#6: The dictator

When you TELL your agency what to do, it leaves your agency with only one answer: YES. When you ASK your agency a question, then there are three answers: YES, NO, MAYBE. When a brand leader comes in with the exact ad, then it is not a creative process, it just becomes an order taking process. Great ads have to make your brand feel different; different will always feel a little scary. To find greatness, revel in ambiguity and enjoy the unknown. The unknown should be what makes marketing such a great job.

#7: Driven by mandatories  

Don’t write a long list of mandatories that steers the type of advertising you want to see, and avoids the kind you don’t want to see. Give some freedom to allow the creative process to unfold. I believe the best ads are like the perfect birthday gift that surprises us, and we never thought to get it ourselves. Let go!!!  If you write an excellent brief, you don’t need a list of mandatories.

#8: The kitchen sink

Those clients who always have the “just in case” list. They want to speak to everyone, say everything possible, never focusing or making decisions. When you put everything in your brief, you force the creative team to decide on what’s most important. Brands that try to be everything to anyone will end up nothing to everyone. When you try to jam in every message into the creative, you end up with a complete mess. With each new message you add, it lowers the potential for the consumer to digest what you’re trying to say. Focus on a tightly defined target, with one main message. Get rid of anything on your “just in case” list.

#9: Keeps changing their mind

The best advertising people are in-the-box thinkers who like to solve problems. They are not necessarily blue-sky thinkers. The creative strategy is the starting point of the box for your creative team to solve. Every time you give feedback is a new box, for them to answer. At any stage, if the box keeps changing, you will baffle your agency and will never see the best creative work. The best brand leaders stay confident enough to stand by their decisions.

#10: The scientist

Some clients believe there is ONE answer. Digital advertising is creating a belief that an A/B test can make the decision. What is the role of creative instincts? Marketers are not actuaries where we can punch in the data, and the answer comes out. As a brand leader, you can’t always get THE answer. When you try to eliminate risk, rather than learning to deal with risk-taking. Certainty might help you sleep better, but you will dream less.

Other stories you might like

 

  • How to write a creative brief. The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan. To read how to write a creative brief, click on this link: How to write a creative brief
  • How to write a brand positioning statement. Before you even get into the creative brief, you should be looking at target, benefits and reason to believe. To read how to write a brand positioning statement, click on this link: How to write a brand positioning statement  
  • How to write a brand plan: The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about. However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise. Follow this link to read more on writing a brand plan: How to write a brand plan

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  • You will get the one-page brand plan and brand strategy roadmap. 

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BMW Films: Branded content light years ahead of its time

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Can you do something as great and as big as BMW Films from 2001?

As marketers are abuzz with content marketing, challenge yourselves to do great content you love, not just ok content work you like.  While being part of the community and targeting unique users is the right strategy, creating bad content might do more damage than good. It looks cheap. When you forget to entertain, when you don’t put in the quality in execution, or where your brand is too obviously jammed into a piece of content that has nothing to do with your brand. When you don’t astonish and delight the consumer, you fall flat. So, don’t just do content, do content that you and your consumer will love. 

BMW Films

Integrated content at it's best

In 2001, BMW launched BMW Films, light years ahead of the industry. While everyone was still worried about producing 30s and 15s and newspaper ads, most brand leaders were still thinking whether they could afford to put 1% of their budgets into the Internet. From a brand point of view to that point, BMW had always used traditional media like TV and Print to sell their cars. But they saw that things were changing, especially seeing that the role of the internet on the purchase cycle. Roughly 85% of BMW purchasers used the Internet before purchasing a BMW. BMW knew that the average work-hard, play-hard customer was 46 years old, with a median income of about $150,000. Two-thirds were male, married, and had no children. In general, we see that Brands move along the Love Curve, going from Indifferent to Like It and Love It before becoming that Beloved Brand for Life.  Competitively, BMW had a lot of love but it was still battling traditional rival Mercedes who had the most love of all Luxury Car Brands. Everyone else was compared to Mercedes.  Also, brands like Lexus and Infiniti were gaining some emotional support from consumers and gaining share. BMW needed something to show consumers what makes a BMW truly a BMW. They needed to put their stake in the ground to push to be the Most Beloved Luxury Car brand. They needed something that the consumer would love and in turn love the BMW brand.

 

Make the BMW car the hero

The idea of BMW Films was to cast the BMW car as a hero into the starring role of a movie, and in fact many movies. BMW assembled a cast of A-list directors (Guy Richie, Tony Scott, Ang Lee) and A-list actors (Clive Owen Forest Whittiker, Madonna, Mickey Rourke), and developed scripts within the basic framework of having a central character that helped people through difficult circumstances using deft driving skills—in a BMW. The car became the star. Each director who chose a script was then given complete creative control over content and direction, something they would be hard-pressed to find in Hollywood, and something that BMW ordinarily wouldn’t allow if filming a traditional advertisement.

BMW used traditional media with mock movie trailers on TV and on-line advertising to surround their consumer and drive traffic to the website. The end results were staggering: the series had been viewed over 100 million times in four years and had changed the way products were advertised. BMW has had a great decade of sales, recently surpassing both Lexus and Mercedes as the #1 luxury brand.

 

BMW took risks

BMW Films was out there. It took risks, and was an incredible production. To me, it’s still the benchmark for Content Marketing. To me, it’s like Bob Beamon surpassing the long jump record by 2 1/2 feet when everyone else was measuring in inches. It’s like Babe Ruth hitting 60 home runs when the next guy had 17. The love for a brand normally comes when we love the work we do on that brand. The love permeates through our work and onto the consumer. However, if we don’t love the work, how do we expect our consumers to magically love the output of our work and then love our brand? Not likely. My challenge to you: push yourself to love it, don’t just kinda like it. Don’t settle.
Since BMW Films, I have seen some great viral work like T-Mobile, incredible integrations which make me stare and say “wow, I wish I did that”. But in the past 10 years I’m yet to say “Now that’s better than BMW Films”.

This type of thinking can be found in our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks

Learn to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. 
  • When it comes time for marketing analytics, I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

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