Ad execs are reinventing their business models with a focus on agility.
What can you do to be faster and more flexible?
7 agility tips
The leading tech-inspired approaches agencies are putting into practice
A culture of collaboration promotes agility. Because inspiration today occurs at the intersection of the advertising disciplines, agencies are re-imagining the way teams are structured and operate.
Physically (or Virtually) Co-Locate
Get team members in the same space for the duration of a project by breaking down walls between departments or creating a "virtual war-room".
Add Technologists to the Creative Team
Today’s definition of a “creative” goes beyond the Mad Men-era partnership of art director and copywriter. Expand your core team’s skill set by including developers, digital experts, and freelance specialists based on project needs.
Develop T-Shaped Talent
Hire and grow problem-solving employees that are 1) highly skilled in at least one area that they can contribute to the creative process (e.g. web development, art direction) and 2) highly collaborative, empathetic of different perspectives and interested in many other fields and skills.
It’s really important for leadership to keep teams together. Rather than sit by department, we are sitting by account. It encourages accountability and allows people to focus on the extra iterations.”
We’ve involved clients as contributors instead of as approvers. There are no formal dog and pony meetings: the decision-makers are part of the team. The rate of work accelerates and the relationship improves because of this joint ownership.”
The definition of a ‘creative’ is changing. The traditional art director + copywriter model was created around “Mad Men” deliverables of print and TV. But now we have a bigger creative team that includes technologists, UX people and digital designers.”
I err on the side of mixing it up when I assign people to a project. I let people try working on another brand, in a different medium, with a different partner. More times than not, you get new kinds of thinking by having that attitude.”
The “Minimum Viable” Brief
The concept of a Minimum Viable Brief is mirrored from tech companies that quickly build a "Minimum Viable Product," with only the features needed to make it functional enough for real-world testing. The MVB covers as much as it needs to for creatives to get cooking, and can be built in a day.
An MVB is a dynamic framework for inspiration with:
- Insights that are mined “real-time” with digital tools
- Multiple thought starters vs. one perfected strategic line
- Room to evolve as consumer reactions are gathered
Get “Real-Time” Insights
There are online tools (many of them free) that planners can use immediately for a view of the most relevant trends and behaviors around a brand.
Google Real-Time Insights FinderSpot emerging trends with your target consumer by seeing what they're doing online.
Google Brand Impressions toolLearn what's being associated with your brand online - today and over time. Easily compare brands side-by-side.
Google+ HangoutsGet face-to-face with consumers for virtual focus groups using multi-person video chat. Share your screen to show strategic concepts for instant feedback.
Hackathons are day-long events where technologists quickly crank out ideas and build software. Agencies can model after these compressed timelines to foster creativity and get ideas out the door.
Plan an Offsite “Idea-thon”
Schedule a half-day workshop that couples speedy idea generation with real-time testing of market potential.
- Objective: Leave meeting with 1-2 new creative ideas that have been vetted real-time with consumers
- Outsiders for Out-of-the-Box Thinking: Bring in relevant outside perspectives (internal or external personnel) for blank slate inspiration
- Alone Time: Each team member writes 10 initial strategic or creative thought starters against one specific business goal
- The Power of the Group: Break out into cross-departmental teams for battle testing of initial thoughts
- Put Ideas into Posters: Express leading ideas in an 8x11 poster with visuals and words
- Take the Target's Temperature: Use the last hour to assess concepts in real time by talking to your consumers in Google+ hangouts or video chats
- Identify the Highest-Potential Ideas: Based on feedback, select 1-2 top idea(s) to optimize in full creative development
Agile software development uses an iterative process, where a product constantly evolves with fast and flexible responses to feedback. Agencies can collapse the creative process: rapidly building out executions in tangible form, testing them and optimizing early and often to get to the best version.
Iterate and Test Campaigns
Move fluidly from idea to experimentation, getting to the “build” faster even if it is buggy or seems unfinished. Launch prototypes of executions that are 80% finished to assess marketability and see their real-time impact (or lack thereof).
Use online tools to create feedback loops once a campaign or product is in-market. Learn, revise and shift in the right direction for the brand before re-launching.
Instead of just putting ideas in a presentation, we are showing how they would work by mocking up something physical to make it feel tangible. Especially with media that clients are not as used to as TV, you have to invest in the sales pitch of an idea.”
In a way, we manage our communications campaigns like a portfolio of stocks. If we have a million dollars, we think about spending it on getting 10 things into market at once to see where we should pull or double support.”
Beta Testing with Clients
Beta testers are the first customers to experiment with new software, getting the early advantage, but knowing it might be buggy. Agencies can beta test agility by openly partnering with certain clients on pilot projects, working together to evolve to a better process.
Partner on Pilot Projects
Once the client partner is on board, set the team up for success in this trial period:
- Thoughtfully select the clients to test the process with (those with relatively flat structures or a focus on technology are good bets)
- Tailor a process plan and team makeup that fits with the client's business practices and team structure
- Jointly interrogate the objective of the campaign or execution before beginning the project. Then, you can bring ideas in any medium to the table as long as they meet the objective
- Agree on the "terms" of the project - that failure, flexibility and evolution are necessities
- Learn and re-apply what's most successful with this shared model of experimentation
Meet the experts
Click photos for bios.
CEO, BBH, NY
Partner and Chief Digital Officer, Deutsch LA
Founding Partner and CEO, 72andSunny
Global Chief Digital Officer, Arnold
Chief Creative Officer, AKQA
Founder and CEO,
Founder and CEO, Deeplocal
Founder, Chairman and CEO, MDC Partners
Executive Creative Director, TBWA\CHIAT\DAY LA