Make friends with the creatives
Find ways to generate ideas in concert with them.
A while back at another agency, I found out that one of the head creative guys on the most visible account loved bowling. So we did that for lunch! It became easier to talk once we found common ground. Sometimes the collaboration flow starts socially. Sometimes it starts in hallways. Don’t count on it happening in meetings. Go out of your way to make it happen.
Pull one of the creative team that you connect with aside after a group problem-solving meeting. Offer to go into greater depth with them on a specific area that came out of the ideation. You just might strike up a great partnership that extends far beyond the life of the project at hand. One of the other ways to make friends with the creatives is to make their work famous. Finding ways to buy media that stands out helps the client and makes you a creative favourite.
Create a kick-ass media plan
It is OK to have a goal to make your work famous, and it helps you keep the big picture in mind. In everything you do, look to go that extra mile. Find ways to build frequency across many media types using the tactics above. Be sure to make the plan measurable, whether it is a branding or a DR campaign.
Figure out ways to pull all of the data together so you are able to document your success. This also makes it easier to sell through to the client in the first place. I cannot overemphasise this point, especially with new technologies and new media.
If there is not an established standard metric, work with the media seller and the research companies to come up with an effective one. For most digital media, there are more data than most agencies can ever hope to digest. Dig into it and find some data points you’ll be able to extract along the way that document your success.
What are the elements of a winning plan?
Start with a good media brief that results in clear objectives.
Make sure that the client has signed off on the objectives. (The best objectives are ones that the client edits. That way you are sure they read them!)
Create the obvious alternative strategies, then create a few that overreach rather than just meet expectations. This could be a medium never used by the client, a higher budget level (making your case for the spend) or a new treatment within a medium.
Don’t be shy about coming up with ideas that leak over into the creative realm. They would do the same.
Toot your own horn
Write an article or two and be willing to appear in public showing off your work, including the reason you succeeded.
iMedia and other venues are always looking for good case studies on effective plans that worked. There may be some aspects of your client’s data that is confidential, but there may be other aspects that are acceptable to discuss. Many of the speaking venues in our industry are open to proposals, as well. Be persistent and you will find places to talk about your work. Writing is not that difficult. The hardest part is finding a topic, followed quickly by getting started. In this case, you know the topic: it is your favourite plan. I get started by opening up my word processor or notepad and jotting down as many ideas as I have. Then I organize them and proceed to flesh them out. Pretty soon, I have a first draft.
You’ll find a lot of people within your organization who are willing to help proof and make your writing better. And, you’ll find the trades very willing to discuss publishing your work, if it is quality.
Let others toot your horn
Win an Effie and countless other awards for your work, creating demand for your services inside and outside of your organization. This can be done. Maybe not the first time around, but if you keep learning, keep the big picture in mind, collaborate, experiment with new media and document your success, you can win.
You don’t have to start with an Effie or Cannes. There are more media awards every year and many are for ideas in individual media, not an overall plan. Keep applying for the awards and you’ll get better at that too.
After all, as they say, "you can’t win if you don’t enter."
David L. Smith, CEO of Mediasmith, Inc. in San Francisco is a forty year veteran in the advertising media management arena.