Creative Complacency

Creative Director: “I have a great idea for Client X. How about if we …”
Client Director: “I like it, but it will never fly with the client. You know they won’t be receptive to such a different idea like that!”

I wonder how many similar discussions occur every day at creative agencies across the country. New, exciting, thought-provoking and customer-engaging ideas are regularly shot down and never pitched because the agency knows the customer won’t like it. Then, inevitably over time, an agency’s creative staff backs down. They settle back into the routine of cranking out pieces that are safe, the ones they know the client will like. The agency becomes complacent.

A complacent agency is bad news for a client. Even though it delivers the product exactly as the client wants, the effectiveness of the agency’s creative efforts can begin to erode. Creative individuals need to be constantly challenged if they are to produce their best work. They routinely seek out methods of self-improvement and research new tools to aid them in their craft. They are typically independent and take a nonconformist approach with their actions and thoughts.  Cranking out the same old product day after day, week after week stifles innovation, a condition I like to call assembly line creative.

What’s worse than a complacent agency? How about a complacent customer? Constant, repetitive exposure to the same old message can easily lead to client indifference. Does your marketing inspire your customers to take action? Sales are driven by the new, the different, the creative, the informative, the innovative. As customers crave new ways to engage with their favorite brands, marketing agencies need the freedom to pursue new ideas on behalf of their clients. Unfortunately, clients can view new ideas as a threat and will sometimes dismiss them in favor of tried and tested methods.

Clients and agencies who desire to be truly creative need to challenge each other daily, not just on special occasions. Leaders who foster conditions promoting a proactive culture of innovation and creativity will see their businesses flourish, in both the good times and the bad.

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