You’re in save mode, but you still need a creative agency.
Or do you?
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As prices of just about everything seem to be climbing, many of us are in save mode. This is not a bad thing however more often than not, this blinding fervor to save money can be detrimental to the end goals of business. In this article we illustrate how being in save mode can affect your dealings with a creative agency. If you’re already on board with an agency, how should you proceed to get the most bang for your buck?
Likewise, if you’re ready to hire a creative agency, how do you ensure your company doesn’t fall into the three most common save mode mistakes that we see?
The meaning of save mode.
The most obvious embodiment of save mode is being physically tightfisted with the budget. Of course it can mean much more than that. Being in save mode may cause teams to move too quickly, become disorganized with separate agendas, and glide over important details and long term goals. For many companies today, smaller teams are taking on larger work loads. Each member becomes a key player and may often have more work than one person can realistically handle. This can easily result in lost communications between team members and have a cascading trickle down effect.
When this is the case, it certainly puts a damper on the company’s relationship with the creative agency. There’s no shame if your company needs to tighten the belt where budget if concerened, especially for those in their humble beginnings. Our hope is that through this article you will gain an understanding of not only how to pinch pennies without harming business opportunities, but also to foster a prosperous and solid partnership with your creative agency.
Making the most of your creative agency relationship. Time is money.
If the decision has been made to hire a creative agency, it is so important to make sure you’re getting the most out of your time, their time, and most importantly, your budget.
At Spin66 Studio, we take on a wide array of projects for a diverse group of clients. But one thing stays consistent with every project we take on, and that is we always have a unique game plan. We carefully consider the clients’ needs, goals, timeline, and budget to create a strategic plan for each and every project. This is designed not only for ourselves to succeed and meet goals, but also for our clients to know how we will be spending our time and their money. Ensuring a sign off on the plan with all the final approving players is key to confirming everyone is in agreement.
To make the most out your creative agency relationship, stick to the approved plan, you’ll save a lot more time and money if you do. If you are on a retainer, you’ll simply be ensuring you are utilizing the agency’s time wisely. Also, don’t forget to ALWAYS do a creative brief before every project, and triple check that all parties are on board prior to starting.
Following are a few additional tips that will help keep a prosperous and productive relationship with your creative agency.
Be prompt and thorough in communications :
Treat your creative agency like an extension of your company and be available to meet or review the project by the agreed schedule. Remember, their deadlines are your deadlines.
Even if you don’t have the necessary information needed to respond with at that moment, let your agency know and when you will be providing the requirements. This will allow your agency to release teams to work on other projects rather than what was scheduled for your company.
Be honest :
Honesty is so important when dealing with your agency. They’re hired to help you achieve a higher level of success and that can only happen if you are fully honest about your goals, your budget, and your general way of operating.
Be ambitious in your goals, but also realistic:
Keep that shoot for the moon attitude, but keep in mind that you can’t expect a million dollar product on a thousand dollar budget. That doesn’t mean you should settle, it’s really about understanding what’s realistic and achievable for your business at that moment. One of our favorite, long-standing clients always brings samples of major, multi-million dollar brands for us to get some dynamite inspiration on whatever project it is. However, alongside that extreme ambition, is a realistic appreciation of how they could achieve something creatively similar within the budget that we’re given. This allows us to help them soar above their goals and still keep it attainable.
When is the right time to hire a creative agency?
In our years of experience, we’ve come across a great number of clients that were eager to hire us, and did so hastily. At first glance, these clients appear ready to soak up all that a creative agency has to offer. But we can see quite quickly into the process if they jumped the gun on timing.
The three most common warning signs we see are;
Directors not being in alignment with senior management or misunderstanding the company goals, micromanaging processes to the point of stumping creativity and cutting corners on key steps to come under budget.
If you think now is the right time to hire a creative agency, make sure these few key issues that we see fairly often, don’t describe your business.
For companies in the process of growing that are ready to seek help in transcending to the next level, it’s crucial for all members that will be directing the creative agency to be on the same page. In the past we’ve seen this lead to numerous re-starts, on-going updates, confused messaging and even a weak end result. We can’t stress enough the importance of a creative brief. If your team isn’t used to this, let your agency work with you to deliver one that gets signed off on. This will protect all of the internal teams and ensure your external team is on the agreed path.
Most clients hire a creative agency because they like the breadth of their portfolio and really need this specific variety of external support for the team.
We have a number of clients who love to be involved with the creative brainstorming phase which is always welcome, however, if you really want to sit with a designer and direct, or more importantly, don’t really want the creative input, you may want to reconsider hiring a creative agency. Rather you might look at hiring an intern designer or person who has the tools you need and bring them on as the design support team.
The situation is, if you have a very specific idea in mind that you just want produced, versus needing a creative agency to come up with the ideas, the difference must be conveyed. In the past, we’ve had clients who say they want us to be creative and think outside the box, but really they want something very specific produced. These clients tend to micromanage the creativity process until the final product matches some version of the idea they had originally intended. In some cases it's like throwing darts at a board as we may be escorted in various conflicting directions to acheive what a client wants, and when we have reached the intended junction, they don't actually like what they've directed us to create. This is a super costly and frustrating approach on both ends.
If you are have thoroughly gone through the goals, style likes, brand guidelines and have an approved creative brief, set the agency free to do it’s job. If they are not coming up with what was agreed on or creatively don’t meet your needs, then you should consider looking at other agencies. But give the process a chance to work. If you do, more often than not you’ll be pleasantly surprised and will have saved money and everyone’s time in the process.
Major Save Mode
The third, remarkably common reason a company may not be ready to hire a creative agency is if they’re in save mode, cutting every corner to feed success. That cutthroat, can-do attitude is what’s gotten you this far right? Well unfortunately, it won’t work once you start planning creative efforts. Generally the reason for hiring this agency is because they don’t cut corners and they have a strategic process that you don’t have, but you want. If pinching pennies is the main concern, the process that an agency is hired to perform becomes muddled and the final product in addition to the relationship with said agency, suffers greatly.
Businesses in save mode means a great number of things that have the power to negatively affect everyday internal functions and relationships with outside vendors. This unfortunate down side of what is originally intended to garnish growth can end up fueling failure.
Part of what we always do is spend the time up front, ask the right questions to help both our clients and ourselves ensure we have come up with solutions that will really work for them. Then we can develop a strategic plan that incorporates the longer term goals. In some cases, we are the ones to help our clients really face some of the difficult decisions for growth goals. At times this means taking some calculated risks to get a business to the next phase of growth.
These are the most common issues we see in clients or potential clients, but they are just a few of the numerous reasons why you may not be ready to jump into business with a creative agency yet. However, if these issues don’t describe your business, it may be that right time, right now. Send us an email or give our office a call if you would like a more in depth consultation.
Written by Samantha RayFollow @samantharay66