This isn’t your usual Creative Director rant. Read on…
After 31 years in the business of being part of creative teams or leading them, and working with hundreds of clients on both the client and agency side, I find many marketers still developing creative development schedules the same way they did years ago. There’s room to improve the approach and teach fundamentals, if we look outside our industry…
I recently found sound ideas for planning the Creative process borrowing from an industry in which the stakes are higher than our media buys, award-winning concepts, new business wins, ROI or even Brands themselves. It is an industry where a mistake will cost far more than accolades, some profit or a job. It could cost a life.
Charles Heal is not a marketer, but a highly decorated tactical expert in the field of Law enforcement. His book for law enforcement tactical planners, Sound Doctrine, is called a tactical primer. In one section of his book, he shares a rule of thumb called the ’2/3rds Rule’ of tactical planning that is effective when used in all types of emergency situations.
Heal’s 2/3rds Rule states that although the amount of time available for planning is largely dependent on the circumstances, it is necessary to ensure enough time for subordinate units (in our business, creative teams, content producers, etc.) to plan (develop concepts) and prepare (for us, execute the creative). As the process is passed down the chain of command, two-thirds of the available planning time needs to be allocated to the subordinate units (hey Creatives, get over yourselves and get beyond the terminology here). As the process gets passed down the chain, each succeeding unit gets 2/3rds of the remaining time. I’ve seen times when creative was kicked back by the client for further development because there wasn’t enough time allocated in the first place.
For Creative Development, our window is the time between client project start and hand-off to production vendor/network/media channel. And though this rule of thumb was developed outside our industry, past experience tells me that in many past assignments, a 2/3rds use of timing tends to show up again and again in well-developed projects.
If you read this far and think marketers have very little in common with a SWAT Team or Emergency Responders, then look at concepts that all these industries deal with: Identifiying the nature of the problem; crisis (market changes) and conflict (competition); Command (direction); Tactical Principles (best practices), an End State (resulting ROI), and gathering intel. Our industries all deal with fluid, evolving situations that don’t have the luxury of unlimited amounts of time or the ability to get a second chance.
It’s easy to get caught up in our industry’s own self-speak. Looking outside our business is a great way to look at our situations differently, and shed new light on old problems, like planning out time for creative development. Even if someone is coming up with their first project schedule or deciding what creative team to assign a new project, applying foundational concepts that work beats just guessing at dates in an Excel document, doesn’t it?