Advice for Agencies: Dealing with Creative Differences

by | Mar 15, 2017 | Content Production

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Have you ever presented a client with what you thought was a brilliant idea, only to have your ego crushed when they rejected it? Or struggled to convince a general manager that your vision for their brand’s content was a sure hit? We hear you.

In the digital marketing industry, creativity and conflict sometimes go hand in hand. If you want to get results without ruffling the wrong feathers, being able to collaborate on creative matters is essential. Before you get bogged down in unnecessary delays and budget blowouts, we can help you avoid those pesky creative differences.

The next time you sense conflict brewing, give these tactics a try.

Set Goals

Poorly defined targets tend to plague the creative process. It doesn’t matter what you’re working on – it could be ad copy, a landing page campaign or something as simple as website imagery – conflict is inevitable when agencies and clients fail to work towards common objectives. Rather than establishing a vague idea of what you’re trying to achieve, every goal should be clear.

Whether you’re trying to increase revenue, raise the brand’s profile or promote a specific product, everyone involved should know what they’re working towards. Articulating your goals before pouring time and money into creative materials can help you:

  • Meet deadlines without sacrificing the quality of your work
  • Assign appropriate tasks to different creative teams
  • Identify sources of conflict and misunderstandings before they derail the project.

If at any point you’re unsure of what you’re supposed to be doing, just ask! We know it can be daunting to go back and ask someone for guidance, but it’s better than wasting your time and budget on creating something unsuitable.

Timing Is Everything

Even if everyone involved in the creative process has a clearly defined goal, nothing will get done without a deadline. Aside from keeping the project on track, setting realistic timeframes can help minimise miscommunications. Rather than making all the creative components due on the same day, regularly reviewing each element separately will ensure a good end result.

If you’re worried that you’ve somehow misinterpreted your client’s directions, have them look at what you’ve come up with so far. Creating a timeline of due dates can help with this process. For example, you might want to make all the copy due first, then the design elements, followed by any revisions. This will give everyone involved plenty of opportunity to refine their work.

Prioritise Teamwork

It might sound cliché, but teamwork really does make the dream work. In the digital marketing industry, teamwork isn’t just beneficial – it’s absolutely vital. Unless you present a united front to your clients, how can you expect them to have faith in your ability to get the job done?

We’re not saying you have to be besties with your colleagues. But you should at least be able to work effectively alongside them. Instead of allowing the creative process to descend into chaos, having a team that actually talks to each other can help keep the project on track.

Handling Conflict

Even if you do all of the above, you may still find your ideas don’t match up to the brief. And that’s OK. The best part about working directly with clients is getting direct feedback on branding and execution, so instead of wasting time feeling resentful they rejected your idea, take their feedback on board and have another crack at it.

Sometimes though, you may need to fight for your ideas. In these situations, don’t become aggressive – simply lay out your justifications for your concept, and why you believe it’s the best way to go. From there, you can trust your client to make the business decision.

Cooperation between brands and agencies might not happen overnight, but don’t be disheartened if it takes you a while to get the hang of things. Your persistence will be rewarded when you master the art of collaboration.

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