If you want to do great work with your creative content agency, it all starts with a great relationship. But as you establish that relationship, you have to complete the day-to-day task of creating great content that moves the needle. And that’s where things can get stale. Like a long-term relationship, you get used to the same old routine. While it’s nice to fall into a comfortable rhythm, it’s easy to stagnate creatively.
But if you tweak your approach to collaboration, you can empower your creative content agency to come up with new solutions and more effective creative work. All it takes is a shift in communication, perspective, and behavior. From our experience, we’ve found these 5 tactics to be incredibly helpful in diving deeper into projects and doing better work.
1) Talk Solutions, Not Content
When working with a creative content agency, it’s easy to get dazzled by a pretty portfolio or excited by experimenting with a new content format, but the purpose of content marketing is to help you achieve a goal. That’s why it’s important to view projects through the lense of problem/solution. The story you tell and the design you create, no matter how good, won’t be effective if it doesn’t solve a communication problem. This same approach goes for providing feedback. “I don’t like the blue” isn’t a useful statement. “Let’s use a bolder color that will stand out in people’s social feeds” is a more problem/solution-oriented approach.
2) Share Inspiration Early and Often
You are cultivating a creative partnership, so each side should be proactive and vocal once you know your solution and embark on creating content. Keeping lines open and sharing inspiration both steers the creative direction of the project and expands your team’s thinking. A funny GIF, interesting motion graphic, even a direct mail flyer can help you communicate the desired tone, visual aesthetic, or overall vibe, which helps your creative content agency “see” what’s in your head more effectively.
3) Help Them Get to Know The People You’re Trying to Reach
Every creative project is meant to be consumed by somebody. You may have clearly detailed marketing personas or an idea of your target demographic, but go a step further to help bring these people to life for your creative content agency. What does their social media look like? What types of content are they used to seeing? What do they find valuable? This is what you need to know. The better your agency understands these people, the better they can ensure that the work they create will resonate.
4) Make Sure Everyone’s on the Same Page
One of the best parts of working with a creative team is that you have a multitude of thoughts, perspectives, and experiences to draw from. But sometimes people are less than forthcoming with opinions or criticism. For this reason, it’s important to talk through your thinking at every stage, ask opinions of both teams (especially those team members who tend to be less vocal), and always get positive confirmation before moving on to the next thing. For example, you might ask, “How does that sound to you?” when proposing a solution or seeking reinforcement.
5) Challenge Each Other
A creative content agency knows about creative work, and you know your brand. But you may both have additional insights to share that can change the direction of a project. In fact, sometimes that distance is what’s needed to see things with fresh eyes.
For example, in 2013 Microsoft asked us for an infographic to support a new campaign for Internet Explorer. While we initially accepted, the more we thought about it, the more we realized a video may be a better way to go. Microsoft was open to hearing our pitch, and they ultimately agreed to go with the idea. The result was our Child of the ‘90s viral video, which ultimately garnered 48 million views and was named the 3rd Most Watched Ad on YouTube by AdWeek that year.
Microsoft could have shut us down, arguing that they knew what was best for their brand. But by being open, we created a stronger piece that helped them achieve their goals.
Above All: Be Open and Honest
Change and experimentation are beautiful things, but they’re not always the smoothest paths. The more you work with your creative agency and the more you build your relationship, it’s important that both sides commit to clear and honest communication.
For more tips on doing better work, here’s some extra reading you might like:
- Take a look at 15 creative lessons from our Director of Strategy Asher Rumack.
- Learn about the psychology behind why people share creative content online.
- Find out what 7 traits will make you a better marketer.
And if you need a little help, let’s talk about it.