- It's nothing like in the text books or the case studies. Most ideas and projects are dragged kicking and screaming into the world through hard work, trial and error and coming back from rejection with something better.
- No one really cares about the creative brief. At its worse, it's first stage thinking from one person (the planner) that everyone then enjoys ripping to shreds. At its worse, its the client brief written down in order to get to the first review when the real strategy will hopefully emerge. At its best, its summary of first stage conversations everyone has had and direction towards something even better
- You'll have to do lots of workshops because the suits are scared of selling ideas to the client, so want them to get involved in having them. Or you'll have to do them because no one in your agency will listen to a word you say, so you need to get them to discover what you already know for themselves. The suits will judge the success of the client workshop by the quality of the stimulation, not the quality of the ideas, so you'll be working late night creating pen portraits and competitor slides that look amazing even though they tell folks nothing new.
- You'll spend entire meetings where the account director will answer strategy based questions the client has asked before you can respond, then ask you what you think.
- You'll learn at least half of what you need to know from great creative types who could do your job if they weren't doing something more interesting, rather than your boss who's main job is getting you to follow the process.
- If you do the same TGI run for any client audience and interpret it compelling enough, no one will be able to tell the difference.
You'll come up against strategists in other agencies who can fill whole hours saying nothing of value, you'll be quietly chortling with glee and how daft they're making themselves look, only for the client to say it's brilliant, makes total sense and give then a standing ovation. A little like this:
Hopefully, you can spend most if your time being brilliantly simple. Every now and again, you'll need to make the simple look brilliant. Live with it.
8. No one knows what they're doing. When I started, it was hard enough when everyone pretended they knew how advertising works. Now, with social, native, programmatic, content, dark social, partnerships and Big Data no one even knows what advertising is. The trick is look like you do, without believing you do.
9. This industry is tiny. People will always show up again sometime. You can't afford to alienate any one. Even the people who really deserve it. And if you start in the wrong kind of agency, that could be everyone.
10. Not everything Byron Sharpe is automatically right. As it was for Seth Godin. As it was for Rosser Reeves. As with most brands, people buy what they think everyone else does, not what it best. If you want to make a client think, don't quote How Brands Grow (they have either read it or discarded it because it opposed their cherished world view too much), challenge it.
11. No one buys facts, they buy what they want to buy. Don't believe any kind of evidence will persuade a client (or a target audience) your job is to make them want to believe your evidence. Emotional advertising sells harder (although try telling that to certain retail clients) so does emotional presentations. Move them.