When clients ask for bread, give them cake

Too often I hear account directors and those in client service complain that their clients are not ready, not mature enough or not open minded enough for us to deliver true integrated, multi-channel thinking against their briefs; and for this reason the briefs that are delivered to creative tend to be driven towards more traditional execution and the end result is that the client work remains primitive in comparison to today’s standards; and by today’s standards I mean the work that is getting press, winning awards and that we are aspiring to do, be it Old Spice, Nike+ or the like.

We tend to forget that where communications are concerned, it is us the agencies who are the experts (this is after all why brands come to us) and therefore us who must drive our clients to push the envelope in terms of their thinking, and what their brands deliver. We must break out of the self-fulfilling prophecy that certain agencies, clients or brands are not ready to join the web 2.0 society. Just as any professional services business we are expected to be ‘ahead of the curve’ and advising our clients not only on what they should be doing today, but also how they should be preparing themselves for the communication of tomorrow – if they do not get this information and advice from us, they will likely turn to other professionals and potentially take their business with them.

What has sometimes been described as over-servicing should really be considered the norm for any self respecting team and agency, since it is our business to sell-in these ideas and incite our clients to buy them – not only to generate revenue for the agency but also to develop and deliver on the clients business needs. This does not of course mean over-servicing on all fronts, but when it comes down to defining strategy and delivering ideas there should be no limits to our thinking.

Even agencies or brands that see themselves as ‘traditional’ and not ready for social media must a minima work on executing their ideas against channels including display advertising, search and direct (e)mail – in my opinion these media are too often either overlooked or not given the work (and hence respect) that they deserve alongside TV and print; simply because we cannot create a viral movement or news-garnering PR event around a campaign does not mean that we should ignore these media that give us more flexibility and opportunity to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time – which is after all one of the key objectives of communication.

So, as we write briefs, and develop work for clients, let us remember the words (misattributed) to Marie Antoinette,

“Let them eat cake.”

Lex Bradshaw-Zanger

A digital native and integrated brand marketer with a passion for marketing-communications and product design, Lex has a truly international outlook and experience, having worked both in major marketing agencies and client-side brands across Europe, the US and the Middle East.

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