While these habits may not be as well known as Stephen Covey’s
for highly effective people, I have found that any creative
team, from the most conceptual uber cool one to the most mediocre
one can improve if their leader follows the following tips.
1. First, work with the creative army you have.
From the most conceptual, innovative art director to the most
mediocre one, there is no creative person that cannot become
stronger with the right amount of encouragement, constructive
feedback, and good natured competition. While hiring creative
superstars is great, the first step should be improving the
team you have.
2. The best way to prevent attrition is hire the right
people. The time to be really hard on employees is
before they ever become one. It takes a lot of time and effort
to find the right person. It takes even more, however, to
get rid of a bad hire. Because I spend so much time interviewing
and getting feedback, it’s one reason I have had virtually
no attrition on my team in 4 years despite an average annual
rate of 30% at AOL.
3. Getting the clients, account manager, and creative
team to be all Kumbaya. Let’s say that your client, the account
manager, and the creative team are all in different rooms
and you ask them, “What is the main purpose of this
advertising campaign?” Would you be willing to bet $250,000
that they would all give the same answer? Because that’s
what the client is risking. So before any concepting or planning
is done, everyone needs to be as clear as the client is on
what is the main purpose for spending all this money.
4. Creatives need to know the difference among CPCs,
I2Cs, and PDFs. It can be almost a badge of honor
for creative folks to claim they don’t care about metrics
or how an ad performs as long as it looks great in their portfolio.
None of them work for me. A beautifully concepted ad and a
high performing one are not mutually exclusive. And the best
concepted ones are the ones that delivery results and make
the client double their ad spend.
5. If you’re not 5 minutes early, you’re
late. One reason my team gets so much agency work
is that their creative teams are so bad about getting campaigns
done on time for a big launch (tax season, movie premieres, and
Christmas wait for no one). So the client has to rely on
us for the ads (not just for the placement). Fortunately,
we always deliver on time and with better results than what
the agency has previously run.
6. There is no separation of technology and creativity.
Every creative person (including copywriters) need
to understand the latest technical capabilities in order to
take advantage of our medium. And the technical folks working
on the creative campaigns need to understand the creative
challenges and sense of urgency that most campaigns require.
And while I am not completely fluent in Klingon, I know how
to manage technical teams so they genuinely feel part of the
creative group and truly work together with them.
7. There is no separation of ad agencies, clients,
and creative departments. In the old days, the creative
direction of an ad campaign was totally dictated by the ad
agencies. I know because I started out as a copywriter with
traditional media ad agencies (McCann Erickson, Earle Palmer
Brown and WB Doner) and the thought of working with an interactive
ad agency (not that we knew what that was back in the day)
or truly collaborating with the client on creative ideas was
just laughable. Now the climate is much more collaborative.
Because I have full empathy where everyone is coming from,
I am an effective creative liaison among all the groups. And
in the end, it’s all about relationships and getting