Jesse James Rice

Write or Die

A blog about needing words to breathe.

Clients Listen Up: A 3-Step Guide to Great Creative.


I have this debate so often with creatives, I'm laying it on the line for potential clients: You could be getting incredible work from these agencies, but unfortunately the best of it rarely leaves their doors. Why?! 

Here's how it often goes:

We're handed a brief. We research, engage, and beat it out. We hold it over open flame- we seer it into our brains, until we have the solution! Bingo - it's on brand, on budget, and on target. To top it off, it's got innovation and style! It's the best thing (we think) since french toast. We're excited to get it to play with your audience.

In subsequent meetings though, the idea is diluted, combined with other half-ideas, or just scrapped altogether for a more "pleasing" message. Too often, it's the same old crap your brand did last year.

I know; it's easy to lose sight of the goals that these creatives have been passionately focused on for weeks or months, all for one purpose: Engaging your audience. You've got budgets and bosses and bills, oh my! Well, now you can relax. Here's a quick guide to help you get the best out of hiring a creative:


Tight corporate attitudes can cloud your instincts. Don't forget - you went with that one particular agency for a reason - you vibed with their work. But concepts deemed perfect during the pitch are suddenly too smart, too strong, too subtle, too something when decision time comes. Don’t fear the boss. Maybe sell the idea higher up, or try something new. If the work matches the brief, trust that initial instinct you had. Fight for the innovative. It may just help expose your brand to new and better audiences.


It's possible the initial round will require a lot of notes. How revisions are done is incredibly important. Don't become prescriptive. Explain thoroughly your concerns. Why isn't it right? No matter what, creatives always want to find the work that best solves the problem, and specific concerns (as specific as possible) will help guide them there.


Never forget (this is a big one) our creative is designed for your audience. It is not a message for  you. When you waltz into creative meetings, leave your personal tastes at the door. You may be uncomfortable with the creative, but perhaps that's what is best suited to who is being impacted! The quickest way to undermine your brand is to underestimate your audience.


With these key points met, and a little bit of luck, trumpets sound! The creative is on its way to be shown to the world. Now, don't go apologizing or disclaiming to your colleagues that a "crazy bunch of creatives" talked you into this. Wait until they see the triumphant results!

They'll be fanning you with their corporate Helvetica palms before long, while you Banksy your brand all the way to the bank.

Jesse RiceComment