It is extremely difficult to be in a creative position at an organization where you are not surrounded by objects or people that enhance your creativity. Sometimes sitting within the four walls of your office or in the stuffy board room at your financial institution can make you wonder if you have any creativity left. The big question isn’t, “Am I still creative?” but instead, “How can I stay creative?”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work. He said that most creative people combine both playfulness and productivity. How can you combine both playfulness and productivity to produce the creative marketing strategies your financial institution needs?
Look to your agency. While not every bank or credit union has a full retainer relationship with one particular agency, many have ongoing relationships with various creative companies that they can look to for creative support. And by creative support, we don’t just mean that they will produce ad materials for you, but rather with you.
Instant Feedback, Better Results
The typical creative process is this: The financial institution provides the agency Account Executive (AE) with the upcoming products and goals they would like to promote. At that point, the AE helps the financial institution’s marketing team prioritize the deliverables and schedules the development of each campaign. The AE will communicate each deliverable to their internal creative team, and oftentimes brainstorms occur before creative is developed. From there, the creative team will get to work on creating the campaign before presenting it to the financial institution for approval.
What if that wasn’t always the case? What if you could help? You became a marketer for a reason. You have concepting skills, creativity and ideas that crave to be heard! Why not be part of it all? When you visit your agency, you can become part of their creative process. Just ask! Get involved. Be heard.
Better Creative Environment
Creative agencies have a longstanding reputation of being fun, happy, cheerful places where creativity can thrive. From pool tables and office gyms to full-fledged bars, ad agencies know what it takes to inspire creativity. People oftentimes wonder how employees can get any work done in an environment with seemingly relentless amounts of distractions. The answer is fascinating and complex.
Take our agency for example. McDougall & Duval specializes in bank and credit union marketing, which is generally considered an unsexy “vanilla” industry in terms of products and services. On a daily basis, we have to find new approaches to promote standard products, such as free checking accounts, CD specials, home equity loan campaigns and first-time home-buyer programs. In an effort to draw from an inspirational environment, the agency owners made the decision to purchase a riverside restaurant in foreclosure and transform it into a wildly creative office space — complete with a stocked, 30-foot mahogany bar. The former Blue Moon Café in Amesbury, Massachusetts, is our home to brainstorming, internal meetings and client conversations. This keeps our ideas plentiful and our creative fresh.
Photos of the courtyard outside McDougall Duval’s offices, and the “Blue Moon Café” inside.
Some critics of this type of open and entertaining environment are concerned that less work would get done in a workplace that may tempt employees to slack off. However, these “distractions” actually have the opposite effect. A carefree work environment fosters happier employees, and happier employees are oftentimes more productive employees that will stay until all of the work is done.
In his book, Creativity: The Work of 91 Eminent People, Csikszentmihalyi says that, “Despite the carefree air that many creative people affect, most of them work late into the night and persist when less driven individuals would not.” This persistence is what breaks through the barriers of distraction to produce extraordinary work.
Visit Before You Sign on the Dotted Line
For those bank and credit union marketers that are currently in search for a new agency (or will again be on the hunt), it is strongly recommended to visit each prospective agency before making a decision. This will help you find the perfect fit with both the team members and the creative environment. Visiting the agencies will give you an inside perspective of how the agency thrives on a normal working day, while giving you insight into what goes into the creative process. And, it will help you determine whether the agency is a place that you’d like to return time and time again for inspiration. If you are comfortable, happy and overall pleased with the initial vibe you get at a particular agency, it will help you feel confident that you will accomplish much more during your future meetings there.
More Creative & Strategic Input
Meetings between your internal marketing team and your advertising agency typically occur at your financial institution’s main office. This oftentimes means that a limited amount of people from the agency are able to attend the meeting – likely the account manager and possibly one other person. There is a time and a place for this type of meeting, but it should not be the case every single time you meet.
When you meet at your agency’s office, you have the opportunity to meet (or meet with) every person that touches your account at any given time. This can include everyone from the Creative Director to the Production Manager to the Social Media Director. And, given the topics that you’d like to discuss during the meeting, the particular subject matter expert can be pulled into the meeting at a moment’s notice. This type of flexibility in your meeting environment can be critical for strategic creativity.
Visiting your agency before you hire them will give you invaluable insight into the firm’s creative atmosphere and the employees that will be working on your marketing. Similarly, regular visits to the agency can not only increase the personal bond between you and your marketing team, but can be a time for unmatched creative inspiration that you may desperately need.