What Kills a Design/Marketing Project

A few weeks ago Geoff Coats with Line 58 presented at the SMPS Southeast Louisiana‘s Annual Marketing Workshop about what kills a design project / what causes friction between your internal marketing team and the consulting marketing & design firm that you hired. I couldn’t wait to see it because Geoff & I see eye-to-eye on many things professionally and this is obviously an issue for every marketing & design firm. (Although on paper, Geoff’s firm is a competitor, our firms have different artistic styles, his firm is more architectural and we obviously focus on construction, we respect each firm’s work, and we’ve become friends over the years.)

The presentation included Chaos, Unclear Objectives, New Players & Gatekeepers, and Micromanaging as things that kill creative projects, but the two that really resonated with me are things our team has been trying to overcome for years, but aggressively so lately. They include:

  • Lack of Momentum – When a new client and/or project, our entire team lights up like a kid on Christmas morning. We’re excited about the potential of the project, getting to know that client, and pushing ourselves further. That excitement continues until a client throws us a road block. The road block is the project dies off and is not a priority any more. The once eager creative team now sits and waits for the opportunity to arise again, but the more time passes the less excitement is there. Creatives can handle long-term projects that have smaller benchmarks, but they can not thrive when a project goes dormant for months or years.
    Even small things like sending content in bits & pieces over weeks and expecting a sample with every addition just wears on the team and is inefficient because it requires 15 minutes here and there instead of a excited chunk of time, not to mention all the rework that happens are the content changes.
  • Lack of Trust – You hired us for a reason, trust us. But it goes much further than that to the extent that my team is trying removing the wall between client & vendor. At the beginning of 2014, we started using the term “Core Partner” to describe what most would consider a “Client”. Clients keep us in a box, don’t let us see their secrets (aka real problems), and are always territorial. We do our best work when we can get to the root of the problems, are pushed to maximize our expertise and skills, and are not confined to a rigid expectation of a narrow scope. When our Core Partners let us in by tearing down that wall, they get much more than scoped and their vulnerability allows us to make real change and be honest with them, even if it may hurt at first.

Geoff told the audience a secret that could hurt all creatives, but it will make creatives much happier too. A creative person will work hundreds of hours on their own time on a twenty hour project if they are passionate and excited about it. Keeping the momentum going and trusting your marketing and creative partner will ensure you get the most out of them and way more than your contract promised.