Get better work from your creatives at no extra cost

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When you’re trying to solve a problem, do you just work on it flat out, come up with a solution, then move on to your next challenge?

Probably not if you’ve got time. If you’re not under pressure to crack it, you’ll think about it a bit. Then put it to one side while you work on something else. Then come back to it later.

Why? Because you know that, given more time, you’re more likely to come up with a better solution.

It’s the same with creative work, whether that’s producing concepts for an integrated marketing campaign, or just writing copy. Whoever you give your brief to, the more time you allow them, the more chances they’ll have to create a brilliant solution. That’s been my experience either when creating my own work or watching others create theirs.

But giving your creative people more time means greater cost to you, doesn’t it? Not necessarily. It just means planning ahead.

Here’s what’s currently happening

Cash-strapped marketers and agencies are briefing creatives at the last moment to produce work quickly. So they book us for a set amount of time – two weeks, for example. The work begins almost immediately. And the days worked are almost always consecutive.

Here’s what would be better

Book your creatives for the same amount of time, or same project rate, but spread the booked time over a month. Let them work on your project in bits, between their other jobs, and you’ll see better results. It’s during the breaks from your assignment – the time you’re not paying for – that the magic happens. After your brief has been knocking around in the depths of their subconscious minds, your creatives will come up with some of their best ideas. And when your copywriter revisits your copy-in-progress after time away working on something else, they’ll be more likely to improve it. They’ll create a more striking tone of voice, a stronger headline, or a more effective way to describe your product.

I saw it work like that last summer. A beer client, Lee, asked my creative partner and me to come up with more ads for an existing campaign. We agreed to spend three days working on the project and give him at least three ads for a set fee. Lee also agreed to let us spread the work over one month. During that time, we came up with many good concepts. In the end, one particular concept stood out as the best – the very last one we came up with, after almost 30 days.

Clearly, if you plan projects to give your creative people flexibility with deadlines, you’ll get stronger work at no extra cost.

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