Workplace strife between account people and creative people is the stuff of ad industry legend. Here’s a new twist on the same old story…
Planners like to be liked, respected and relied upon. We like to feel that what we’re doing actually influences the creative people and the work. We like to feel appreciated for our efforts.
Unfortunately, creative people don’t give
a Fabout how strategists feel.
If I asked a group of creatives what the one thing they most want from their planning partners, it’d be ‘usefulness.’ It has nothing to do with the fluffy reassuring emotions planners desire.
Creative people seek advantage and edge — not someone who plays nice (i.e. is ‘collaborative’).
I like the line, “creative people seek advantage and edge,” although it makes creatives sound a bit like predators instead of expert synthesizers and cooperators.
Sheep We Are Not
Tim Williams of Ignition Consulting Group reminds us all of the value of strategy:
As business strategist Jules Goddard observes, the beauty of an effective strategy is that it allows you to create value with much less effort. If you do strategy well, he says, you never have to worry about staying late to work.
Brand strategy is often thought of as an abstract ideal, rather than the outcome of much reason and reduction by trained professionals. At the highest level, it’s about what you can strip away to reveal the masterpiece inside.
With the Proper Mechanics, You Might Become Intensely Appealing
Williams asks several great questions about what strategy is and what it does. “Does it make our firm intensely appealing to the types of customers we want most? A strong yet narrow focus means your firm will be very attractive to a very specific target customer. It makes you intensely appealing to someone instead of mildly appealing to everyone.”
To get to the exalted place where you and your firm are intensely appealing to someone, it’s unlikely that you will wander to this mountaintop, and one day realize you’ve arrived. Instead, you’ll make a plan and work on making said plan a living reality.
- Like journalists, strategists know to ask all the right questions.
- Like architects, strategists know to make several site visits before drawing up any building plans.
- Like professors, strategists know they must play to the multiple personalities in the room.
It’s Either “On Strategy,” Or It’s Off the Wall
There’s a false idea afloat in some creative circles. The idea is that great work is made when the lightning bolt of inspiration hits.
I think many ad people and artists throughout history would beg to differ with this faulty concept. Instead, you show up and do the work, and in the doing, day by day, you create an environment where great things can and do happen.
Early in my copywriting career, I used to put up marker comps on the wall for the agency partners to evaluate. They would then use a colored marker to put a dot on the ideas they liked best. Sometimes, the account director would stand there and belly