Self diagnosis is bad for your business

Self-Diagnosis is Bad for Your Business

mechanic Imagine there's a problem with your car. You do a bit of research online and think the alignment is off. You share your diagnosis with your mechanic and he or she checks it, spending time focused on what you said the problem was. Your alignment is tweaked and you get your car back, along with an invoice.

But your alignment wasn't the only problem; something’s still off.

Too often, that's how it plays out when a client works with a creative team.

The client believes that they need a new marketing project (a website, email campaign, etc.), so they call in the creative team (designers, art directors, copywriters) and the team writes a brief for the upcoming project.

Often this brief is focused on project specifics such as:

  • Format/Channel
  • Deadline
  • Main Message
  • Target Audience
  • Call to Action
  • And perhaps some talk about the look and feel

A lot of these points are addressed, rather quickly, by the client.

you want fries with that But when the creative team is put in the role of ‘order taker,’ that leaves the client in the position of self-diagnosing, which limits the creative team to developing only projects and campaigns that meet the client's own (often limited) sense of what the current business problem or opportunity is.

Which may or may not actually be the most pressing issue for the client's business.

This process doesn’t allow both parties to contribute what they know best, nor does it utilize "creative" to its full potential (including impacting profitability).

For example, the client may believe they need a new website—but looking at the data, the main channel for getting new customers has actually been email.

In that case, a home page refresh might be better, so more time and resources can be spent on expanding the upcoming email calendar.

Maybe the client does in fact need a new website, but making it ‘prettier’ won’t solve a critical current problem (i.e., abandoned carts, fewer visitors, or an uptick in visitors that aren’t converting).

If the client and the creative team don't talk through the context of the current business situation, important factors that would point in a better direction might be missed.

Before considering a specific project, both the client and the creative team need to be able to answer bigger questions, such as:

  • What is the business goal for this new project or campaign? (produce better leads, announce a new product, etc.)
  • What pain point will it address for customers?
  • Why are we doing this project now? What has changed?

These and other big-picture questions provide context for any creative project and a framework for developing much more effective designs, content, and visuals.

One of the best ways to kick-off a project is with a facilitated ‘Discovery Session,’ where client stakeholders and creatives talk through the current business landscape. These client stakeholders usually have pieces of essential information between them and being in one place to discuss things helps bring the big picture into focus.

This session often surfaces key issues that become the linchpin for an impactful project or campaign, and creates a business-focused partnership between the client and the creative team.

By talking with your creative team about current business opportunities or trends, and having key stakeholders each contributing their perspective, your marketing, branding and customer messages will be more effective.