A new client on a short deadline, recently asked us: "How can we (the client) help you (the agency) to go as fast as possible?"
It's a great question, and this blog will address some best tips based on our years of experience.
- Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want. That's not always possible, especially when you're trying something new. Sometimes you have to see an initial draft before being able to realize what you like or don't like. But we've found that the clearer you can be about the goals, intent and the role this initiative is playing in your organization, the better the outcome. That's true even if your initial draft takes you down the wrong path.
- Be decisive and clear when you provide feedback. Again, we know this can be difficult, especially when trying something new. But vague comments like, “I just don’t like it” aren’t helpful because it doesn’t provide enough input about what to correct and why. And second-guessing sends mixed signals and typically results in delays.
- Plan for convergence. It's important to develop a cross-channel strategy to reach audiences different ways but it sometimes gets overlooked. To reach different audiences across different channels requires planning at the start. Or else you end up with the next issue.
- Be aware of mission creep. This can occur during the edit phase when someone says, "You know what would be great? How about if we did …" Sometimes the additional ask is not a big deal, like can you come up with a caption for the photo we now want to accompany the content. But sometimes, an additional ask reflects a change in priorities, an additional element, and moving the goal posts, and that all adds up, delaying when the project will be ready. And that can require unallocated resources -- at the client and at the agency.
- Have a clear process to review/approval process. You need enough people to weigh but too many people offering feedback can lead to problems: such as version control (with executives working off of different versions of the document) or differing priorities. This almost always resulting in time lags, especially if someone has to adjudicate contrary feedback (where one exec loves the second paragraph but another hates it).
- Make sure to involve everyone is involved who should be involved. We've seen projects where different functions are not in the same room, even though the project would benefit from their input. In one case, the social media team wasn't connected to a client's biggest announcement of the year; their posts on announcement day were about an upcoming webinar but nothing about the new product. Lesson learned: make sure to different functions are able to contribute and collaborate. These days, you might need to bring in both your CTO and CMO as well as some of your marketing vendors, who by collaborating, may generate better results.
- Take your time but not too much. Once we hand something in, we're often inpatient for feedback. It's one thing if clients say they'll be able to review the document on Thursday. It can be a real problem if we have to spend our time tracking down approvals. (This is often the case if need to get approval from a third-party, who often has other priorities and may be doing our client a favor.) We can estimate the time it takes to research, write, edit and revise a document. But it's difficult to estimate how long and how much effort it takes to get content approved, which is why this can be an important element to address in advance.
We want to do our best work and to deliver something that meets your goals. Especially at the start of project requiring a quick turn-around, it is important at the start clearly define the goals, expectations, timelines, approval process and what to do if there's a problem.