Every New Year, I think about what changes I can implement to offer clients a better creative experience. One thing always comes to mind: how we engage with our clients. Too many emails and texts = loss of dialogue and miscommunication. With what we went through in 2020 rolling over to 2021, people need to know you're there.
A reoccurring issue across my desk is a business contacting me to redesign their creative after hiring a designer, or the OOH Company has offered to do their creative and the client is unhappy with the outcome. Don't get me wrong, I welcome the work! Still, you may be surprised to know that most of their frustration is because they could not talk to the designer.
Throughout the years, I've learned in some cases, this comes from companies who don't allow their designer to speak directly with clients. In other situations, they worked with a designer who didn't understand how to design outdoor advertising, or the client emailed the AE but couldn't articulate what they wanted, making the creative process frustrating for the client who is looking to us to come up with ideas. Or probably most often, the client may not be willing to listen when we explain what they want may not translate well for out of home. The latter can be hard to explain over email/text. I promise it's easier to discuss during a call, Zoom, or in-person (whatever we can offer with current F2F limitations) because you can engage in open dialogue about their ideas and how their advertising will be best represented using our medium.
We all have clients who “get outdoor advertising” and clients who “want it the way they want it.” But whichever client you have, I recommend taking the time to talk to them. We will not win them all, I've done creative I'm not proud of because the client handcuffed me, but we should never stop giving clients more than they expect. The focus should be on how we can build their brand beyond their expectations. Doing so may lead to a more significant sale or long-term client. But if we continue to give the client what they want, that could lead to cancellations or non-renewals. For me, it would mean the client or OOH Company may not use my creative services again, which is why I take the time to speak to clients directly. It isn't about filling out a creative brief. I only use the brief to refer back to my notes from my initial call with the client. It's about talking to the client, asking questions, learning about their brand and what they offer so I can provide compelling creative ideas to generate business for them.
OOH companies should keep in mind the creative is not only the advertiser's face out there. It is theirs as well. If you're working with a designer who understands how to design for OOH, they should know what to do, and it may end up being something completely different than where the call started. Including AE's on creative calls also helps the overall process because everyone is in the loop, and it shows the client you're working as a team. I work with AE's who enjoy being creative and provide their input and some who don't want to be a part of the creative. Either way, listening in may provide helpful, creative tips when talking with another client in the future.
I hope 2021 has been a fast start for everyone. If not, now's the time to re-engage. Pick up the phone or schedule a virtual meeting and talk. Find out how you can deliver for your client. Listen to their needs. Build trust. All of this has been my experience working with clients directly. They appreciate the time I take with them, and I enjoy getting to know them. At the end of the day, it provides a better experience and partnership.