Are You Getting By On Your Creative – Or Your Strategy?

If you’ve been in the agency game for a while you know that clients tend to be very impressed by creative samples – even when they say they’re not, or even when they claim that creative work won’t be evaluated during the RFP or bidding process.

So if your team is really blowing it up in that area, the chances are that you’re also routinely beating out the competition when it comes to winning work. And that’s awesome. But if you bill yourself as a full-service agency, it’s worth it to sit back and ask yourself this important question: Are you also beating out the competition when it comes to research, strategy and execution?

The fact is that while clever creative may help you wow your prospects, it won’t carry the day when it’s time to develop a robust, integrated, strategy-driven marketing campaign. Always remember, the same client who goes crazy for your storyboards during the pitch meeting is going to eventually expect hard core results and conversions. If those results don’t materialize, she won’t blame herself for being overly-influenced by pretty pictures during the selection process – she’ll blame your team. And as we all know, disgruntled clients have a way of spreading the word to their colleagues. A shop that ends up with a reputation for being “all about creative, but nothing else” will eventually find that the bid wins start happening further and further apart.

If you’re noticing that your agency is struggling when it comes to strategy or comprehensive execution, here are some other questions worth posing:

Do you need to bring on a partner?

You rock at creative – but maybe you need to team up with someone who rocks at strategy and execution. Sure, the amount you’re able to invoice for the job will be smaller, but if you end up getting re-hired for the next 5 years instead of let go after 1, you’ll come out well ahead of the game in the long run.

Do you need to re-think what kinds of jobs you are going for?

Maybe you’re going after jobs that require full-service capability, but you’re really a “strong in creative” agency that has a “solid understanding of the role that creative plays in strategy and execution”. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time for a change in your branding and business development strategies that help better position you for creative-only gigs – which in turn can result in scenarios where you’re only working on projects where you can blow clients away during the bidding process and during implementation.

Do you need to re-think your talent allocation?

Maybe you’ve got all the capability you need to be a take-no-prisoners full-service machine, but you’re allocating too many resources into creative. Or, perhaps you’re under-utilizing some of your team members – putting the wrong rear ends in the wrong seats, or sidelining talent unnecessarily. It may be that some of your creative team also has the capability to make contributions beyond those of drawing and writing, or it may be that you’re boxing in some of your other specialists who have the ability to take on full-service roles.

MindEcology knows how to untangle marketing problems, think strategically, and play nicely with others in the same agency sandbox. If you’re interested in an ad agency partner, we’d love to talk.