A creative agency is a subtle interplay between the creativity that appears inconstantly and the need to get organized to get out quality work on time. It's also a team effort that constantly combines creation, production and improvement.
It's a balancing act between the customer's budget, objectives, expectations and sometimes tight delivery deadlines. It's essential to respect each of these points and many others to create a long-term relationship with each customer.
In this article, we're going to share some practical tips to help you improve creative production in your agency. This will enable you to make the difference in your market and gain in efficiency.
Set clear objectives with customers
This is the first step in avoiding confusion between your teams and the customer. A project with poorly defined objectives and customer expectations can lead to an increase in corrections.
Imagine a customer asks you to create an advertising campaign. But he doesn't clearly specify the message, the target or the distribution channels he wants to use. Your creative teams will have to come up with several versions of the project before they can hope to get to the heart of what your customer is really looking for.
Even so, there's always the risk of disappointing the client and having to start all over again. This can slow down the project's progress, cause delays in delivery and lead to customer dissatisfaction.
To avoid this, create a specific form that you fill in alongside the customer. It helps to guide your contact with precise questions that clearly identify their expectations in terms of message, target audience and objectives. It's also a good time to ask them to provide you with all the documentation you need to complete the project.
Then, based on the answers to this form, you can draw up a briefing for your teams. Depending on the complexity of the project, you can always organize a meeting between your teams and the customer to clarify certain details.
Set realistic deadlines
It's better to over-deliver than over-promise to your customers. If you set over-ambitious delivery deadlines, you run the risk of not meeting them and disappointing your customers. What's more, your teams will tend to rush and burn themselves out. This is counter-productive.
Before setting a delivery deadline, ask yourself the right questions:
- How much work do I have to do?
- Do I have the human and technical resources to meet the deadline?
- Are there any other external factors that could delay delivery (employee leave, strong incoming demand, etc.)?
Don't hesitate to be transparent with the customer about your deadlines for creative production.
Anticipate project extensions as far as possible
Every project you design for a customer exists in theory before it exists in practice. The problem is that, in some cases, no matter how well you've determined the client's objectives and expectations, you're not immune to the possibility that they'll ask you to do more than you planned along the way.
For example, you decide on a batch of 10 Instagram posts per month with your client. Your teams get organized and set about creating and producing the posts to deliver before the end of the month. Finally, your customer tells you he wants 5 more. Your team's schedule may not allow it. But you don't want to disappoint your customer, and you want to deliver on time. So what do you do in this type of situation?
Instead of talking about how you can solve this situation, let's talk about how you can avoid it. As you build projects for your customers, you gain experience. You understand what works and what doesn't work. You also understand your customers' behavior. If they have a tendency to broaden the scope of the assignment along the way, try to anticipate this. Explain to them that other customers have ended up asking for more, and that it would be easier to anticipate this from the outset.
If, despite your precautions, a customer asks for an extension, don't be afraid to explain that additional delivery times will be necessary.
Choosing the right human and technical resources
Imagine you've got a lot of incoming customer demand, but you don't have the human resources to handle it. It's frustrating, and above all, it's a big loss of income for your creative agency.
But you don't want to recruit more people, because you can't afford to at the moment. That's what freelancers are all about. Use them, and make sure you explain your processes to them when they join your team. If you're satisfied with their work, make sure you keep in touch with them. That way, when you experience a major increase in workload, they can help you absorb it without increasing your payroll.
Another solution is to use more appropriate tools for creation. At Abyssale, for example, we are constantly pushing the automation envelope for visual creation. This limits the need for human intervention, and therefore reduces the scope of certain tasks.
Involving your customers
There's nothing worse in project management than customers who don't feel involved, or who are slow to respond to your requests. Whether it's for approval of the work done or for some other reason, their lack of involvement can greatly delay a project. To avoid this, make it clear from the outset that you're working with them, not for them. Also, as soon as you draw up the brief, set clear deadlines for customer feedback in the project schedule. They'll then know that they'll have to be present at that time, and can organize themselves to be available.
Last but not least, use project management tools that enable asynchronous interventions between your teams and the customer. Notion is undoubtedly one of the best for this. And here's the scoop: it's what we use at Abyssale.
Poor communication within your teams or with customers is a source of misunderstandings and requests for revisions. Once again, productivity suffers... To avoid this, simple communication tools are not enough. Lack of communication is often due to uncertainty about individual responsibilities. If John thinks it's Thomas's job to publish posts and vice-versa, nobody will do it. The project will fall behind schedule and your customer will be dissatisfied.
So you need to make sure that each team member's role is established. To take this a step further, you can establish clearly defined milestones in your project tracking tool. Each task will be assigned to a member of your team. As soon as a team member completes an action, the whole team receives a notification. So the next person can take over.
Allocating the right resources to the right people
There's a link with point 4. Having sufficient resources to handle a project is important. But it's not enough. The challenge is to balance the workload allocated to each person and avoid bottlenecks.
Imagine you have 10 articles to create for a customer. 80% of the work is editorial. To meet deadlines, you'll need to call on several copywriters. However, a single designer will suffice to create the covers for these articles.
Here again, to help you estimate the workload of each member of your team, a project management tool like Notion is essential. It allows you to rebalance allocated tasks when necessary.
Prepare for mass production
Some projects always follow the same graphic guidelines. Once the template for your visuals has been validated by your customers, the creative teams have (almost) no need to intervene.
Imagine that your customer has asked you to produce a series of carousels in line with their graphic charter. Initially, you'll propose a template to accommodate all the carousels. Once the customer has approved the template, all you have to do is change the content inside. Finally, your agency or customer...
Image Form lets you empower your customers. From a simple form, they can generate content that respects their visual identity. Instead of filling in a brief and sending it to a designer, the customer fills in a form directly. Then, in a matter of seconds, they can retrieve their visual creation.
The customer gains in autonomy and satisfaction. On your side, you free up your teams for more creative tasks.
Finally, improving your creative output as a creative agency relies above all on good project anticipation and organization. You must always be ready to overcome the unexpected. Finally, the smoother the communication between your team members and clients, the higher the quality of your production.
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