Vacation and lousy weather often result in sorting out old files and drawers. This summer is no exception.
In one of those piles of papers I found a list which I must have created in a moment of frustration during my days as an Account and Project Manager at an Advertising and Communications Agency a decade and a half ago. I just couldn’t throw it away without sharing it in a blog post to see if others recognise some of these too frequent behaviours of advertising clients. Do you?
- Always ask for a bigger logo
- Always as for the product to be presented on page 1
- Always list three or more product characteristics that all have to be included in the headline
- If there’s something in the suggestions from the agency that you don’t like, say so. But don’t tell them why.
- Ask for advice but do something else
- Approve substantial costs without blinking an eyelid, but scrutinise all studio and courier costs in detail
- Obtain creative briefs, time plans and quotes only to later decide to do it all in-house, using said creative briefs, time plans and quotes
- Give feedback three weeks behind schedule but still get upset when the project runs late
- Always question why the copywriter should take part in the initial idea phase
- Always and every time, surprise the agency with panic jobs at five to five, preferably on Fridays.
On the other hand, I learned that the cardinal mistake by advertising and communications agencies was… lack of communications. A lesson I have brought with me to everything I’ve worked with subsequently. Projects usually start of very intensively. Lots of communications, briefings, quotes, ideas, suggestions, planning and other interactions. Later, you usually enter a phase of research, production or similar desk work. Even if everything runs just smoothly and according to plan, it’s easy to go silent. “Busy working. Don’t disturb”. But after that phase of intensive communications, it’s easy that clients get “withdrawal symptoms”. If they don’t hear from you, their mind starts generating all kinds of fantasies of what might have gone wrong. And “no news is good news” becomes “no news means the agency is busy working on a new pitch for another client” (which may be true from time to time, unfortunately).
So, just keep communicating. Even if it’s just a message of “We’re on schedule”, “All’s working as planned”, “Here’s an example of where we are right now” or something else comforting the troubled mind. Just don’t go silent.