Running a successful creative agency has always been about adapting, whether that’s to digital trends, client preferences or financial pressures. But increasingly, agencies are also being forced to adapt to a new kind of creativity — one that’s a result of strategy, design and production coming together.
An agency’s value no longer exists in the tactical realm. Now, we must demonstrate our ability to not only deliver on what’s being asked but also to think of and develop the ideas our clients can’t. When next-generation agencies pull together their greatest minds and skill sets, they can create something more than the sum of their parts and provide the creative genius clients need. Here’s how:
1. Root creativity in context.
Competition is fierce, especially when easy-to-use tools allow many brands to produce content in-house. But the competition isn’t just about outsourced capabilities and in-house teams — it’s about who has the best idea. The value that agencies offer is embedded in the brand and consumer insights they provide, delivered in a context that supports the client’s request and goals. At NVE Experience Agency, we start every relationship with the story component. We want to work with brand narratives that are compelling and ownable, so we constantly evaluate and tailor our approach to the stories we help our clients tell.
To effectively translate your clients’ brand stories, stay grounded in the truths of their brand so that creative concepts flow out of those principles. Aim to push the boundaries of creative possibility while staying within a context that’s still meaningful to target consumers and relevant to the brand. And through a combination of connected marketing channels, look for opportunities to create culturally relevant programs that can be moved from one channel to the next.
2. Cultivate creative cohesion.
When all parts of an agency work together in harmony, creativity — and, by extension, revenue — flourishes. Creativity doesn’t operate in silos, and concepts that go unchallenged stifle the potential of the best ideas. So it’s essential to eliminate the walls between internal teams to ensure all parts serve a single creative ideal. To that end, we assign core project teams — including members from account services, design, strategy and production — based on the creative and client’s needs.
3. Stay within the boundaries of production reality.
Lean into creativity just enough to push the boundaries of possibility, but never to the point that you cannot confidently deliver what you present. After you present your ideas, allow clients to interject their own visions, and then merge the conversation into a real strategy. Clients may not know exactly what they want until they see it, but that’s the job of the agency. Do the thinking that clients would do if they had the time, and then follow through on the promise to deliver.
4. Connect creativity to bottom-line purpose.
Clients care about creativity, but they also care about value. The best agencies demonstrate that value to show clients why creativity is worth the investment. Rather than present a laundry list of KPIs, help your clients understand the full set of data points they can capture to prove the effectiveness of a campaign. For instance, we evaluate the client’s core objectives and then recommend the tools and tactics that can capture those metrics.
5. Focus on the long game rather than single executions.
View every marketing execution not as the end goal, but as a vehicle that drives your clients closer toward their larger objectives. From experiential to digital, messaging should have a thread running through it that ties it all together. Remember: Any agency can fulfill a request, so always ask yourselves how you can fit executions into the larger marketing mix to move the bottom line.
Experiential is the only marketing tactic that creates a two-way line of communication between brand and consumer, which means it’s a chance for consumers to learn about the brand, as well as a chance for the brand to learn about consumers. For that reason, we integrate every campaign with the tools and technology that will capture the feedback or information to help our clients optimize their next program. Interactive surveys and gamified RFID technology are simple yet effective ways to reward consumers with custom content or exclusive products while providing brands with valuable data.
Next-generation agencies are resources and counselors more than they are service providers. It takes a qualified team to produce production-ready strategies that center around new media. When agencies can figure out how to communicate that new type of value to their clients, they’ll build the kind of client relationships that drive long-term growth.