A Conversation About The Account + Creative Dynamic

Mike Gunderson
A Conversation About The Account + Creative Dynamic

Key Takeaways:

Sugar And Spice And Keeping Things Nice, Part 1—The Creative Side

In my 20+ years as an agency creative, I’ve had all sorts of relationships with various account people and in all kinds of flavors.

Some of these relationships were salty. Usually pretty satisfying but hard to wash down at times.

Some were sour. And grapes of that tenor make working far less fruitful.

I’ve even experienced the bitter. And once that’s on your palate, it’s damn near impossible to clear and to get things done.

You guys see where this is going. The sweet: where exchanges are rich, feedback is ripe with positive intent, and our clients savor the fruits of our labor. I have been blessed with said sweet account-creative relationships throughout my career, but in no place more so than Gunderson Direct.

I recently sat down with Lindsay Weisgerber, our agency’s head of accounts. We spent a good hour-plus talking about the account/creative dynamic: our experiences and tips for how departments can better understand one another to foster great relationships and deliver winning work efficiently.

The transcript from our chat turned out to be 25+ pages long, and in our world of snackable content, no one wants to read that much of anything. So, I’ve selected my favorite bits for your consideration. Stay tuned for Lindsay’s fave moments coming up next month. ‘Til then, I hope you find below both enjoyable and insightful!

No You, No Me, Just Us.

I think a productive account and creative relationship is one that’s built on trust, respect, and collaboration. There are so many stigmas between account and creative. You have to get into each other’s heads around how we each work, what makes each of us successful, and how we can both support one another: not making those assumptions about either department.

Totally! My daughter Juniper is reading The Outsiders right now. And that book is so aligned with what we’re talking about: the Socs vs. the Greasers. Each group moves about in a microcosm built around assumptions of the other, but at the end of the day, they are so much the same.

It can be so easy to put up walls. And when that happens, the creative team will be seen as fussy or offer nothing but roadblocks and pushback. And the account team will be seen as pushy, only caring about timelines and what the client wants.

Both teams feel I’m not getting what I need. I’m being pushed—things like that. But you have to turn things around and have a service mindset.

The account team’s feeling pressure. Ask: How can I help relieve the pressure? The creative team is feeling like they don’t have what they need. Ask: How can I provide them with that? It’s taking what we see as the resistance and saying, Okay, how can I break down that roadblock and help them succeed? How do I foster communication and foster the relationship?

“Be humble, acknowledge, and work together. That’s when really great work happens.”

– Lindsay Weisgerber

Going Long About The Brief

I know your team puts so much work and thought into creating succinct briefs, setting everybody up for success—just the right amount of information. There’s nothing that strikes fear, panic, anger, frustration, or resentment into a creative team like getting an unclear or incomplete brief, and the clock starts ticking.

It’s interesting how you guys are trying to serve us, and we’re trying to serve you. We’re all
serving the client. But that’s part of the art of what we do.

How do we get into your minds?
How do we inspire you guys to do the best work possible?
How do we build a strong brief that will give you the foundation to create work built upon strong insights that set us up to look like superstars in those presentations?
Because—going to go back to the brief—everything is going to be measured against that. When all of the pieces come together and we’re able to have that presentation and wow the client: it’s so rewarding for both teams.

When you’re confident in the brief, you’re confident in the work. And that all breeds excitement.

A lot of upfront work goes into a brief—the art of account service.

How do you ask your clients the right questions?
How do you know when to push back or not?

Every project is unique. Every project has its own set of parameters. You know, options, and so that’s what also kind of makes it fun. Not one is usually the same.

So, we work together, problem-solve and conquer, leading to a successful kickoff. What —in your mind—would the ingredients be for a successful kickoff meeting?

It’s twofold. The first part is tangible.
Do we know what we’re doing?
Do we know what our timelines are?
Do we have the information and insights that we need?
Do we have a clear profile of the audience?
Do we have clear insights to help us with the human condition?
Do we have the brand assets?
Do we know what our KPIs are?

A great brief is that, but it’s only part of a great kickoff.

The second part is inspiration. Do we feel like we’re emotionally set up for success? A creative team wants to feel amped up by positive energy and all this awesome information.

Then go out and rock it.

I’m going to go get with my partner, spitball a bunch of rad stuff, and I can’t wait to see what happens!

A great brief, a great kickoff, and a great account person set that vibe up. Speaking of which…

Stay tuned for Lindsay’s favorite moments, coming up in the weeks ahead!

Gunderson Direct has long-lasting relationships with some of the country’s largest corporations, helping them to lower their customer acquisition costs and increase profits using address-based integrated direct marketing programs.

Drop us a line for more information on how our direct marketing expertise can help your business.

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Mike Gunderson

Mike is the founder and president of Gundir, the award-winning direct marketing agency. Since 2003, Gundir has helped businesses drive new leads and close more sales through traditional offline channels, especially direct mail.

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