Does Your Creative Work WORK?

Does Your Creative Work WORK?

I’m as guilty as the next ad agency creative person of touting the need for great creative ideas… even as clients demand measurement, efficiency (read cost cutting) and results. The thing is, clients and agencies really want the same things from our seemingly conflicted relationship. We all want IDEAS THAT WORK… that compel customers and prospects to feel something, enough to act, click and buy.

Efficiency is also an internal agency goal. But, while we do need to be more efficient if only to maximize agency profits, we must never lose sight of what should be our most important goal, one that benefits agency and client:


In fact, why not make effectiveness your brand promise? Produce case studies demonstrating how your work has delivered results for your past clients. Tout your effectiveness credentials everywhere your agency has a presence. Pitch and propose with your brand promise front and center.

We produce work that WORKS.

Efficiency vs. Brand Investment

Clients too often get caught up in the need for “efficiency.” This is because client marketing people are being hammered from all sides—by C-suite leaders, by stockholders, by their own procurement departments—to deliver more for less. Every year, the marketing budget is cut—or redirected into mar-tech investment—yet marketing people are expected to deliver the same or better results as the previous year. Meanwhile, the financial mavens crow about how much money they saved and collect their quota-based bonuses… even as their brands lose traction because marketing is failing to create the buzz and awareness needed to keep the brand at the top of customer consideration. 

On the flip side, agencies sometimes get so caught up in the Big Idea, they lose sight of the objective laid out in the creative brief. That tends to make clients distrust agency recommendations, and can make it all the more difficult to prove effectiveness. That is why agencies must strive to build effectiveness metrics into every project, and make sure they emphasize not just the creative idea, but how they will verify that the idea got the job done.

Clients want ideas that attract attention, persuade, capture leads, incite desired actions and convert customers. They just don’t fully accept that human psychology and emotions play a huge role in achieving those goals through marketing. 

Agencies that can demonstrate marketing effectiveness will find their big ideas win greater client acceptance. They also are less likely to suffer account losses or budget cuts. Make sure you always embed effectiveness measures in client projects.

Measuring for Effectiveness

Are your projects and campaigns effective at delivering on client objectives? To demonstrate how well your big ideas work, you must become better at embedding measurement in projects and proposals.

Rules for marketing effectiveness:

How do you measure or confirm effectiveness?

Discuss what clients hope for against what might be reasonably achieved. Some clients expect you to deliver miracles. Agencies must become very good at tempering client expectations to what can be achieved, to ensure they are satisfied, while protecting the agency against ridiculous pipe dreams.

Set benchmarks so you have a point from which to improve. Then measure to see what the marketing effort gained. Make sure the agency participates in research and benchmarking to ensure goals or objectives are fair and reasonable.

Set modest goals. Know what results you CAN deliver. Calculate to the best of your ability your potential deliverable results, then commit to delivering under that goal. Don’t over-promise—over-deliver. And always get a signed scope of work to confirm agreed-upon objectives and commitments for deliverables.

Assume some of the risk with potential for a bonus. Propose risk-based compensation based on meeting the goal, exceeding the goal by a certain percentage, and hitting the goal out of the park. Always set your price based on at least recovering your costs and overhead.

Use integrated tactics to amplify marketing impact and boost returns. Mixing media channels and tactics greatly amplifies overall marketing impact. Never use a single channel or tactic, and align these to key audience behaviors and habits.

Agencies do not need to abandon great creative ideas to satisfy client demands for “efficiency.” Instead, refocus clients on effectiveness, and prove you achieved return on investment. When you roll the creative idea into your value proposition and prove it works, clients will more easily embrace riskier ideas in the future, and have greater trust your agency can deliver.


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