The only way a client will buy an idea is if it’s sold to them.
These days they just don’t buy it without a solid, business based, rationale.
In the past an ad agency was a magnet for clients. They were drawn there because it was a wonderful world of clever thinking and creativity.
Yes, there was booze, long lunches and pretty girls but there were strange people who dressed differently and, more importantly, thought differently. They were challenging, aggressive and they had ideas that were beyond the client’s grasp but, strangely, they seemed to work.
Clients trusted the agency to create solutions that would help their business grow.
So why did the clients suddenly decide they could do it all themselves?
It wasn’t sudden, it took years, because over time we abrogated our responsibility.
We took the path of least resistance.
We failed to quantify the ROI that good creativity can deliver and settled for delivering ‘what the client wanted’ rather than ‘what the client needed’
In other words it was easier to capitulate than fight. This resulted in the client believing that he was right.
Once that happened it took the magic out of advertising.
The client then believed that they could come up with the ideas and they could make the ads. All they needed was a Mac and a technician.
The rest is history.
They now have the Macs, the technicians and a belief that agencies are nothing but a cost centre that they can probably do without.
There is also a belief that the media is the message.
Success won’t come by simply having a presence on Facebook or YouTube. These messages still need to have an idea, one that will catapult them beyond being just a public announcement.
We have to put the magic back.
This will only happen once we give our clients something that they can’t do themselves. And that is still clever creative thinking.
However there is no magic wand that we can wave to return the status quo. We now have to ‘prove’ our worth by justifying the value of that creativity.
This will come down to statistics and the ability to quantify how a creative approach is worth the perceived risk.
It will also come from reintroducing the idea that a creative solution is also better value for money than a mediocre one, or no idea at all.
Creativity sells, it always has done and still does now.
Agencies once promoted themselves as being the conduit between the client and the consumer – we have forgotten how important that is. By connecting the client and consumer, through great advertising ideas, we can again prove our worth.
Short term thinking and instant rewards are no excuse for taking the easy way out. Clients need to look seriously at their brand, its lifecycle and then be made aware of how important building a sustainable, long term, brand image is.
We must educate them to be able to articulate the importance of their brands to their senior managers.
In most cases we are not dealing with decision makers within our client’s business. At best we are talking to the people who have the power to say “Maybe”.
Arming the timid marketing person with the arguments to sell strategies and great ideas must be part of what we do.
Great work isn’t bought by clients, it’s sold by agencies. Advertising is the art of selling and great ideas need to be sold.