Inspiring Great Creative

June 13, 2017

By Jane Maas, ANA Faculty

Tithi Luadthong/


You can be the kind of client who inspires agencies to greater creative heights. Though it may be hard to believe, with work, you can become a client so good that agency folks will compete to be assigned to your account. It isn't easy, but it is possible. To get there, you must first master these five important skills. 

1. Work at Being a Better Client
Envision what a fair and motivating partner looks like and take steps to become that person. Create an environment where big ideas flourish, the approval process is simplified, and risk taking is encouraged. Strive to become known for honesty, enthusiasm, and compassion. 

2. Learn to Write Powerful Creative Briefs
The best creative briefs are a collaboration between the client and agency. Many clients don't realize how essential it is for them to work with the agency while developing the brief. You know your target audience and can help the creative team understand not only their demographics, but also their attitudes toward your brand and your category. Work with your agency to dig for insights that hit your consumer in the heart or in the gut. Most importantly, ensure that both sides agree on the key brand benefit that will drive the work.

3. Know the Elements of Effective Communication
Whether you are delivering a five-minute mini documentary or a tweet, there are some elements that make any communication more effective. One of the most important is to be single-minded. Get across just one message in any one communication. Your audience is time-stressed and multi-tasking. They simply cannot take in more information than a single idea. 

4. Understand How to Evaluate Creative Work in Rough Form
The agency presents the work with confidence, but how can you tell if it is going to turn into successful advertising? There are two helpful ways to judge. First, does it bring the creative brief to life? If not, you must ask for revisions or turn it down. Second, will it be effective? That's where the "Elements of Effective Communication" come in. You ask questions like, "Is it single-minded?"

5. Master the Art of Giving Compelling Feedback
The ability to give good feedback to the agency is one of the toughest jobs in marketing. It's also one of the most vital. Learn how to turn work down or ask for revisions gently but firmly, and always give reasons for these decisions. Conversely, be sure to give praise when it is deserved. And never write copy or play art director.

In the ANA's new on-demand course "Inspiring Great Creative," we'll talk a lot more about each of these skills, and give you more practical tips and guidelines. We'll also discuss how to develop a truly integrated campaign and more. To learn more, go to

All on-demand learning courses are complimentary and available to ANA Corporate Members only.


Jane Maas is best known for her creative direction of the "I Love New York" campaign, and as the author of Mad Women. Ad Age named her one of the most influential women in advertising.

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