Being a client services team member at a marketing agency is like being a chameleon: you need to find a way to blend yourself in and find that common ground with each and every one of your (often times very diverse) clients in order to foster strong, trusting relationships. Internally, this is no different when it comes to your rapport with the creative side of the house.
In my opinion, the bond between client services and the creative team (writers and designers) should be one of the strongest within the agency. These brilliant minds are what churn out the gold: that incredible, tug-at-the-heart-strings creative that leaves your clients in tears of joy and you on a pedestal after a successful presentation of their new Admissions suite.
It’s also one of the most challenging relationships to build. Creative minds don’t work like client service minds. It’s Type A vs. Type B., left brain vs. right brain. But if approached correctly, the ultimate partnership can be formed. If you’re reading this, you’re likely wondering how to make it work with your in-house or outsourced creative team, so here you go.
A few things I’ve learned in my years here at CCA:
1. Hear them out. More often than not, a creative can throw some really out-there ideas that have absolutely nothing to do with the strategy that you just sold the client on. “What the hell does that have to do with this?!” you may want to ask. But hold off: nine times out of ten, they’re giving you something that’s thoughtful, original, and let’s be honest…nothing you would have ever thought of in a million years.
2. Leave them alone. Designers like their space. They don’t appreciate anyone hanging over their shoulder staring at a half-complete layout that they’re not ready to share. At the project kickoff meeting, tell them when you need to review it by, and let them be. They will not only produce better work, but they’ll also respect you.
3. Be honest. If you are strongly against something that a designer gives you, you need to be upfront and tell them, provide your reasoning, and offer a solution. They’ll probably push back on you (be real, you’d do the same thing if you spent the last 48 hours of your life working on a concept that someone dismisses immediately). But remind them that you know the client best, and chances are they’ll shift things around to give you what you feel comfortable with.
4. Arm them with information. Part of being a good account manager is plying your creative team with as much information as possible about what it is the client needs—everything from the target audience, to key considerations, to competitive assets, to brand standards, and beyond. Creative briefs, meeting notes, brainstorming sessions; this is all part of the collaboration that is necessary to produce the best product for the client as possible.
5. If all else fails, feed them. Creatives live for the good stuff. At CCA, this includes Snickers, beer, and chai smoothies.
Want to see what our team of client services and creatives can do firsthand? Contact us today about your higher education marketing needs.