Tips for Strategists and Media Planners
When trying to persuade our more traditional luxury brands to take a leap of faith regarding new and innovative digital opportunities, we often find ourselves at odds with their desire to play it safe. While the need to protect brand integrity is always paramount, the increasingly competitive nature of digital renders it more crucial than ever for agencies to encourage brands to think creatively in order to avoid plateaus. Since media planners often struggle with the limitations of brands steeped in decades or centuries of heritage, it’s important to recognize that the brand story is actually the opportunity, not the challenge. Here are some steps planners can take to help their luxury clients be more open to trying something more outside the box, while keeping the initiative brand appropriate.
Don’t Write-Off Elaborate Programs. If a publisher approaches you with a new and compelling program, your automatic reaction shouldn’t be, “We’ll never get the client to do something this innovative or risky.” Publishing partners are just as excited as you to be first-to-market with a new idea, which only increases the likelihood that they will be willing to customize the program to accommodate your client’s specifications. And while some programs may truly be too expensive or risky, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let your client know about them. Regardless of budgetary constraints, if it’s truly something that would be a good fit for the brand, show it to the client. Most clients may not even be aware such a program is possible, and you don’t want them to be the last to know. There’s no harm in prefacing the opportunity by saying, “I know this isn’t in the cards right now, but we thought you might be interested to know…” It’s like asking someone out; the worst thing that can happen is a “no,” but imagine how rewarding it will be when you finally get a “yes!” Additionally, it demonstrates that you’re here to guide the client and will continually be searching for new opportunities. This brings me to my next point.
Be Excited and Confident. Regardless of the product, strategists have to show enthusiasm for the brand and the campaign they’re advertising. Confidence in your strategy and enthusiasm in your delivery show that you take pride in your work, thus instilling in clients the necessary trust for them to allow you to execute something new and different.
Be Proactive. Think of your campaign as a supermodel getting ready for the runway at New York Fashion Week – and you’re the stylist. Your model (much like your campaign) is about to represent the designer name and every bit of hard work that went into each, fabulous little stitch. Every campaign requires attention, regardless of whether it’s a yearlong branding effort or a weekend flight. Hair falls flat – and so does a campaign – if you don’t provide ample TLC. Set up times to assess how the campaign is performing and where you can optimize tactics. If certain elements are becoming redundant, then go to the client and suggest a solution. Much like adding a neon clutch to a gray outfit, a creative swap is an effective way to rejuvenate a campaign. If things are going considerably well, your client might be inclined to throw in some additional budget to shake things up. Most importantly, a successful campaign builds trust that you can deliver results. That trust, in turn, should allow for the client to be more open to those out of the box ideas you have up your sleeve, because they’ll recognize your willingness to do what it takes to make the program work while staying on-brand.
Encourage Clients to Be The Competitor. With the amount of competitive research we do as planners, our clients have a pretty strong idea of what’s going on in their industry markets. While it is important for your clients to stay competitive and be privy to where their rivals stand, the goal, clearly, is not to do what has already been done. When publishers provide competitive examples, ask them to also help brainstorm on how to build new opportunities from each campaign insight. You’ll be surprised at how far a little collaboration will go. In fact, putting creative minds together from both the agency and publisher sides often creates new programs. If you can present a customized, on-brand, original idea to the client, then you’ve got a winning plan.
Your client may not do back flips over the next pricy, exclusive sponsorship opportunity you present, but making it a habit to keep them informed is the first step toward winning them over with a great idea. With time, diligence in executing successful campaigns will ultimately build your client’s trust in you, and that makes all the difference.