Per usual, this is another blog post that is based on an office convo. Can you be a digital agency without having a creative arm (or, without simultaneously being a creative agency)? So, how did this question come up? Well, the Marketing Supply Co. team was having a ‘That-70’s-Show-esque’ (sans ganja (we’re professionals)) circle meeting where we were discussing creative social ad concepts for a new client.
After tossing around ideas and coming up with 8 solid concepts, our CEO asked, “are we, like, a creative digital agency now?”. For some context, we have always labeled ourselves as a digital (social ads) agency with the ability to design accompanying creatives, but never once have we advertised ourselves as a creative agency. Despite developing creative concepts and working with freelancers to bring these concepts to life for multiple clients and campaigns, how have we not branded ourselves as a creative agency? At this point, fully-designed creatives are something clients have come to expect from our team. It got us thinking, how do you draw the line between being a creative agency and a digital agency without sacrificing the successfulness of a campaign?
Keep reading for our thoughts on why digital agencies should also function as creative agencies and how we make it work:
We start with analyzing our client’s site and brand assets that are already set in place. Even after the on-boarding process, we always like to refresh ourselves on the brand’s voice and tone so we can continue to innovate their creatives and develop on-brand social ad campaigns. Analyzing a brand’s assets can include anything from updated color palettes and fonts to tying in new creatives from the brand into current/upcoming social ad campaigns. It’s also worth mentioning, for e-commerce clients, we are constantly checking out their new products and inventory, and then requesting these files in order to incorporate them into ads.
Let it be known that Marketing Supply Co. is nothing like a kindergarten classroom. If someone on our team suggests a bad idea, we will make fun of them relentlessly. That being said, we never let some bad reviews keep us from brainstorming literally any idea we can think of—you’ve got to have tough skin to be on the MSC team, we’re hiring if you’re interested. Some of our best creative concepts are derived from terrible ones.
As the resident copy-guru (aka content manager), I’m big on copy, so this rule isn’t my favorite, but it has proven useful. We try to avoid starting with copy because there is nothing worse than coming up with some dope copy and then not having a concept to match. That’s why we prefer to develop concepts before copy. There is always more copy to go around, and good creative concepts are often few and far between.
The culmination of these circle sessions typically ends in an ad concept deck which we then present to clients. A typical deck will include mockups of designs, copy variations, goals and thought process, as well as final creatives and any other creatives sent over by the client. When we present ad concepts in this manner, clients are able to get a feel for the decision-making process on the agency side and see how their deliverables compare (or, rather, combine) with deliverables produced by the agency.
We truly believe that being involved in every aspect of a digital ad campaign leads to seamless campaigns and data-driven results. As an agency, when we are given creatives and then asked to develop copy and build a campaign on a social media platform’s ad manager, we are able to do so. Based on what we’ve seen, this method is not as successful as when we, as an agency are involved, if not in complete control of, in the creative process. So, why have we come to this conclusion? Well, for one, our agency can get a better idea of the target audience from the get-go because we can develop this audience in accordance with developing creatives. Whereas, when we are given creatives, a lot of back and forth with clients is necessary in order to make sure our campaign builds are targeting the correct audience. This ultimately leads to spending unnecessary amounts of time on one campaign.
It’s easier to start with something rather than nothing. Being able to present creative concepts, and sometimes even fully developed designs, to clients not only shows a deeper understanding of the product/service you are developing a campaign around, but it also gives clients a solid starting point so they can give their feedback. You may be thinking, won’t this take so much more time though? The answer is yes. At first. But after a few concepts and campaigns are created and carried out, the concept presentations will go a lot smoother because your agency will have a better feel for the client’s thought process.
Allowing room for collaboration with your clients is beneficial for both your agency and your client. Collaboration fosters stronger relationships with your clients which can lead to a plethora of things: from client referrals to being put on larger projects. In addition to this, it’s truly the more the merrier when it comes to bouncing ideas for creatives off one another. Your client can help take your designs and creative concepts to the next level, and visa versa.