Monthly Archive: January 2016

Winning Hearts and Minds Beings With A Vigorous Embrace

To raise the bar in 2016, Andy Nairn, co-founder of British agency Lucky Generals, believes we need to ask harder questions of ourselves, our agencies and our brands.

tree hugger passion

One of the questions on the top of many minds is where did all the passion for the business go?

The best entrepreneurs love their chosen sector and the people they serve. In contrast, too many planners appear somewhat ashamed to be in the business of persuasive communications and decidedly antipathetic towards their ‘clients’ and ‘consumers’. We need to stop sniping from the sidelines and be positive champions of change.

I appreciate Nairn’s willingness to poke a finger in an industry sore spot. Clearly, there are plenty of reasons to be embarrassed when admitting you work in advertising. Most ads are complete shit; therefore, it’s only natural for people to wrongly assume that we either produce said shit, or in some way endorse it.

The real problem here is we have zero standards as an industry. Barriers to entry, yes. Professional finishing schools, yes. But there is no Bar Exam, or any other qualifying test for ad pros, and no professional credentials that matter. In its place, we have award shows, which merely serve to bolster the me-first detachment and arrogance found in many ad creators, and prove to any onlooking clients that people in our profession are clueless and focused on the wrong things.

Defenders of award shows—and there are many vocal and well-known proponents—will argue that clients want to win awards too. That’s mostly false. Clients who intend on moving to the agency side, may indeed want some shiny hardware, but most clients are focused on quarterly earnings and other metrics of meaning.

Nairn wants us to love what we do, and that means embracing the people we do it for—our clients and their customers. How many of your clients and their customers are you embracing today? We have a ton of metrics to abide by, but Bear Hugs Per Person is one that we all might want to add to our dashboard.

For Best Results, Measure Creative Output And Its Impact

Jeff Graham, founder and partner at Grenadier in Boulder, recently delivered a talk on the role of a “creative account leader,” which he describes as the person inside the agency tasked with selling “the product” that the agency makes for clients.

Graham distinguishes between shops that see themselves as service providers and those who see themselves as manufacturers.

He acknowledges that account service and developing client relationships is “the how” we do what we do, but not the reason we get out of bed in the morning. “I believe the strength of those relationships should be based on the quality of the work output that we produce for brands and the results that work generates,” Graham says. “To me, that’s the foundation for the best client relationships that I’ve ever had.”

In other words, the account person’s job isn’t to be well-liked by clients. The job is to move the needle for clients, in ways that can be systematically measured and repeated.

Graham sees agencies as factories of custom creative solutions to business problems. “That’s how we measure our success collectively as an agency. Using the same set of metrics, the same scoreboard (that a factory would).”

Another key takeaway from Graham’s talk comes via his story about working on the Microsoft account at Crispin, Porter + Bogusky. His client at the time, Gayle Troberman, believed the single most important factor for success when working with agencies was orchestration, or account management, not creative. The goal was better creative, but the responsibility for it ultimately fell to account service.

I’ve worked in many agencies where account service was prized, but prized for the wrong reasons. It’s easy to see account people as revenue generators, but that’s seeing things through the old service-minded lens. The manufacturing lens for creative agencies places the responsibility on the entire team for revenue growth and clearly outlines the account service role as providing the strategic framework for agency success.