The onus of a campaign's output lies equally on both sides.
"Why can they not deliver such excellent work for us too?"; "I am sure there is a better team within the agency, working on this account!" - Such reactions are common when we see superior work being delivered for another client by the same agency that we are working with.
The first instinct is to put the blame on the agency. How many times does a client try to introspect and see that the output is always a function of the input? We, as clients, are at times guilty too. Some of the things I have learnt along the way:-
Less is not always more - We might not be providing the best and most comprehensive inputs from our end to the agency. It is not that we do not want to; it is just that at times we are so well versed with the brand that it is a blind spot for us and we do not realize that we need to put things into perspective; into much more detail for an outsider view. Hence, the brief is not as well articulated as we would assume.
"When would you need it?" "Like, yesterday!" - Sometimes we have our own timelines to chase and hence, we are not able to provide the agency with enough time to brainstorm. You cannot expect the best outcome in such a situation, of course.
"Make the black, a little blacker" - Yes, this does happen. Sometimes, we get so much into micromanaging that it takes away from the creative. The focus should be more on whether the creative is able to achieve the intended end objective and the hygiene checks are in terms of the brand fitment.
Not taking risks can be risky too - Sometimes it is good to take an intelligent risk. It is okay to experiment and take an alternative route. If we give the agency enough room to experiment, I am sure they can come up with some extraordinary outcomes. However, how many times are we really open to that?
Marketing without analysis is like driving with your eyes closed - Once the campaign is over, how many times do we really sit with the agency and deeply analyse what worked and what didn't? The creative might have been excellent, but did it really achieve the business objectives? Or vice versa? This requires time and commitment from both sides, so that there is continuous calibration and improvement in the delivery.
"This is not what we had decided on!" - Another problem here is that sometimes there is a great discussion that happens in terms of ideation, but there is a different team of resources working on the execution, which is not well o-boarded on the overall expectations. The client should always make sure that they demand the execution team to be a part of the brainstorming, so they can help deliver better.
There are numerous other factors like budgets et al, but the crux of the matter is that the client and the agency need to work truly like partners to achieve great results. Not that we do not know of this, but in practical situations, it is sometimes easier said than done.
Better planning on the side of the client, the agency's assertiveness to get proper inputs and putting them to good use, can work wonders. And of course, it does happen. After all, how do you think those impactful campaigns that leave you in awe, happen?
Clients and agencies - don't just join hands, join heads together too!
(The author handles digital marketing for Asian Paints)