I had a client once who told our team that he needed “less thinking and more doing,” which was his not-so-subtle way of expressing his impatience with the progress we were making on a project. And that was well over 10 years ago, a lifetime in marketing and communications years, when we were still “overnighting” or faxing concepts because the files were too big to send via email.
But I’m not trying to make a point about the furious changes in technology and the ever-increasing demands that are placed on the creative process because of it. Rather, it’s the idea that as a full-service agency, we’re expected to perform both functions exceedingly quickly and exceedingly well at all times. And, that we have to constantly try to find the right balance between the two: When have we thought through the problem enough so that we can confidently execute the best solution? Determining that inflection point can lead agencies and clients to not see eye-to-eye, but when you get it right, the best solution is often the result.
There are many situations where clients just want a consultant, someone to come in and diagnose a problem. To tell them what needs to be done. To bring fresh eyes to a project and offer a solution ― and maybe provide a roadmap for how to achieve the solution. But a consultant often doesn’t actually see the project through to fruition.
And there are many instances where a client just needs someone to do the work. They know what they need and can provide solid direction. Places like design shops or production houses can bring these types of projects to life and thrive in these situations.
Many times, clients look for agencies that come up with “big ideas” and wildly creative thinking. “I don’t have a budget, I just want to hear big ideas” is a typical statement in these kinds of situations. And there are plenty of agencies who can generate flipcharts full of fantastic ideas that will sadly never see the light of day because there’s no budget.
As a full-service marketing agency, we at Two Rivers try to accommodate client requests that span the range from wildly creative ideation to “get ’er done” types of projects, and we have assembled a talented group of associates in-house who can do both ― and the work in between. We pride ourselves on recognizing that a great idea is worthless if it can’t be seen through to completion. And that just getting something done without thinking it through and making sure it’s the right thing to do can be just as wasteful, if not more so.
Whether a project starts with a big idea and is pulled through to execution, or starts as more of a “task” and is enhanced by some critical thinking, finding the right balance and the best approach takes skill. We explore a variety of options, thinking through a problem from various angles or perspectives to arrive at the best solution. We try things out, whether a strategy or creative layout or turn of a phrase, to land on something that works best.
We listen to our clients, understanding what they need (and how quickly they need it), to navigate the best path forward that can take an idea from concept to sell-in to execution, always striking that balance between thinking through a project and getting the job done.
For example, many of our clients are starting to plan for their industry’s most massive trade show, CONEXPO-CON/AGG. There will be debates over budget, messaging, booth layout, events, graphics and more, and at some point decisions will be made and we’ll start to execute those ideas. We’ll probably come up with ideas that might push our clients too far or make them uncomfortable, but together we’ll work to strike the right balance between what’s desirable and what’s doable.
Looking at the whole picture and knowing the value in a well-thought-out plan that can also be achieved within the timing and budget constraints of reality is one of the benefits of working with a full-service agency. Ultimately, that perspective helps our clients, we believe, because we tend to know the limits of possibility. While a specialist or a consultant can sometimes add value or bring a different view to a problem, often the best partner is someone who can follow through on a plan and get stuff done. And strike the ideal balance between thinking and doing.