“I know it’s beautiful but I still get so much anxiety at the start of my campaign!”
Whenever I begin a new video campaign, I become incredibly anxious. My creative agency provides incredible ideas that are like art. We have a generous budget, so we’ve been able to create beautiful works thus far and they have all been highly successful.
Nonetheless, I always ponder when we might fail. My agency usually puts forth the concepts and I take their lead. But what if they make a mistake? How can I ensure that every campaign is successful and prevent failure from occurring?
AnxiousArtsyA marketer in need of the Guru’s help
I understand why you’re feeling anxious; the pressure to create something special must be intense. But I think you have a huge role in creating your own anxiety. It sounds like you’re giving away way too much control.
Let me guess: your briefing to the agency is about as useful as a cotton candy umbrella in a thunderstorm. If you had been thorough and strict with your instructions, you wouldn’t be so worried right now!
I know it’s tempting to just follow your creative whims, or your agency’s, but that really won’t get you very far. You have to craft the elements of success instead. That means you need to recognize what true success actually looks like.
This actually reminds me of a conversation I had once with a man who applied to be the Creative Director at my agency. He had one of those meticulous beards and wore skinny jeans. I had invited him to discuss his work.
“What were you aiming for with this campaign?” I asked him, pointing at his portfolio website.
He plonked himself down in front of my desk, with his legs spread as if it was a throne. I thought this must be the most brazen example of man-spreading I’d ever seen.
“We opted for a highly atmospheric approach,” he explained, using copious hand gestures. “Blacks. Whites. The constant dread lurking in the shadows.”
“Right,” I nodded. “And was it successful?”
He arched an eyebrow. “Of course, the client was very happy.”
“Is that so?” I said slowly, looking at the depressing images again. “Great results then?”
A I knew car commercials were often downright weird, but brands kept creating them, so I assumed something was working as intended.
“Yes, we received an award for the best long-form advertisement, but of course that wasn’t why we created it,” he said with feigned modesty.
I nodded slowly and leaned back in my chair, crossing my arms. I think this was one of the first times I started to question what I was doing with my life.
“And this one?” I asked, pointing to the next visual on my screen. “What was the goal here?”
He glanced at the screen and sat up a little. “Oh, we really wanted to do something special there!” he exclaimed. “Change the industry, you know?”
I peered at the cartoonish figure on my monitor. Three eyes? A silly detective hat? I shook my head in confusion. What connection did this creature have to wireless security cameras?
“Huh… it’s certainly something special. But what does it stand for?”
“Eyes-y sees everything!” he beamed, appearing genuinely enthusiastic and proud.
My lips parted in surprise as an increasingly overwhelming feeling of despair settled in my chest. “What was the goal of the campaign?” I asked, trying again. “What did the client want?”
He frowned and smiled simultaneously. “We proposed this to the client as a campaign, and they were ecstatic! They became the first wireless camera company with an animated character!”
At this point, I closed my browser and told him it wouldn’t work out.
You see, AnxiousArtsy, creating things should always be done with a clear purpose, unless you’re making art. In marketing, we create results for our brand or clients; not art.
Beautiful images? Funny copy? Animated movies? Storytelling? They are all just means to an end, not goals in themselves, even though many marketers think they are. For some reason, we like to focus on the creative side of things.
What do real results look like? An increase in awareness for your brand, an uptick in sales, or more leads—anything that is measurable and increases your chance of success as a company.
Next time, write a proper briefing for your agency so you can feel less anxious when you start a campaign. Here are some tips:
1) Inform your agency of your needs. Would you like to increase awareness of your brand? Are you aiming for people to contact your sales reps? Or do you desire more orders? Pick one goal and clearly articulate it.
2) The next point in your briefing should clarify how you’ll measure success. Will you conduct a study to see how many people remember your brand name? Or track the number of new orders and leads?
3) Add a target! This is not a “nice-to-have.” You should know what success looks like, and so should your agency. Targets typically come in numerical form. Stay focused and communicate clearly what you need to see increase or decrease and by how much.
4) Give your agency an idea of how you want to reach your goal. This shouldn’t be too narrow; just tell them about the things they should take into account. For example, let them know what role video has in your marketing strategy.
5) Have a detailed budget. Calculate it from the bottom up. Do not simply allocate funds based on previous campaigns or requirements suggested by your agency. Remember to include the costs of creation as well!
There! These five things are some basics you should include in every briefing. When your agency comes back with a proposal, it should fit within the constraints of your briefing and be focused on accomplishing your goal. If it doesn’t, send it back.
Don’t let your inner artist run wild until you’ve got your ducks in a row and your goals are clear. I know, it’s not as much fun, but we’re here to succeed, not to make art. So buckle up and get serious about your briefings, my friend. You’ll sleep a lot better!
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Hi, I’m Angie. I was a brilliant marketing director before cashing out my stocks and retiring (very) early. Now, I answer your questions about marketing so I can feel better about myself while I relax on my yacht and pretend to write my first novel. Hey, at least I’m honest about it! Want to know more about me?