5 things that will make you a better designer


No more witty production level tips. The web is already full of them.

Instead, here I will sum up a few viewpoints which I find important to remember when designing creative concepts and solutions.

I personally believe that every great designer has to really believe in good design as a concept. It’s not just polishing things to look nice but making the whole experience of using the product as smooth and transparent as possible. All this while also considering the business factors and other given goals for the design.

So here they are, five things that improve the quality of the design work:

1. Get a creative brief from the client


This should be a standard when starting a project, but unfortunately it’s still too rare, even though a well-written creative brief is the single most important contributor of precise guidelines for the creative work. Used accordingly, a creative brief is a great tool to generate brilliant creative solutions.

A good creative brief gives outlines for the design work, articulates the big problem that needs to be solved and defines the work’s goals. Even better, there are plenty of good templates available on the web.

If you haven’t received a creative brief or, for some reason, it’s not possible to get one (e.g. in some pitch situations), then create your own imaginary brief and proceed accordingly. This way the design work has a structure and the outcome is tied to something.

Nevertheless, the most important point here is that the creative brief is not just about filling a Word document, it’s about the thinking behind it and the ideas it produces.

A good read:

2. Have a creative process


Behind every great execution is a great concept that is based on a good idea. To get a good idea, it’s essential to have a big amount of ideas – both good and bad. At first, only quantity is important. It’s helpful to have a structure that helps thinking and creating. That is, the creative process.

There are four parts in a general creative process:

  1. Preparation:The problem to be solved is carefully considered and resources are gathered in order to confront the task. The conscious mind is focused on the problem. (To be honest, this is one of the boring parts of the process and basically benchmarking.)
  2. Incubation: Drawing upon these resources, consideration of the problem is internalized and becomes a largely subconscious activity. The mind makes connections more freely and abundantly. This is probably the most mysterious part.
  3. Illumination: Possible solutions to the problem emerge from the subconscious. This is a moment of insight and optimism.
  4. Verification: Solutions are tested and may be applied if proven viable. If not, then it’s time for iteration.

Often the first two phases are underestimated or left out even though they are fundamental parts of the process. Everyone has a unique process for creating ideas, but it’s good to apply some generally accepted structures to your own thinking to be more organized and identify each stage of the process as you go.  When researching rowing machines while working with our client Body Gear Guide magazine, our creativity worked best when we actually understood
how rowers worked and actually tried the workouts ourselves. We were then able to build a
a creative looking page effortlessly.

A good read:

3. Understand what concept design is


When launching a new campaign, the first thing that a potential customer sees is an advertisement that is still just an execution and the last step of a bigger design process.

Before it makes sense to design an advertisement, the following things should be considered:

  • business plan/idea
  • client/brand
  • product/service
  • competition
  • target market
  • advertising objective
  • proposition/benefit
  • tone of voice
  • advertising budget
  • media
  • campaign/advertising idea
  • and finally: the advertisement execution.

This could be illustrated in a form of an iceberg, where the only thing the possible client gets to see is the execution (if the previous list is turned upside-down). The bigger thinking lies under the surface and before actually designing the visual outlook of the advertisement. I think our friends at RapidSeedbox do a great job of understanding how their audience responds to design cues.

Don’t just design, it’s usually simply polishing the turd. Instead, create a concept. Know what you want to say, who are you talking to and how you want to say it.

A good read:

4. Understand the behavior of a human being


The truly great experiences are deeply rooted in motivations, desires, emotions, cultural & social patterns, beliefs and other deeper considerations and structures. The more you know about these topics, the more you’re able to affect people’s behavior.

Products in the market today are evolving so fast that it makes simply no sense to teach precisely how everything around us works. Honestly now, do you really know how your mobile device connects the call to the right person or what happens under the bonnet when you turn your car on? We’re increasingly surrounded by highly complex mechanisms we don’t understand – even when it’s explained to us. The amount that we just have to believe, without understanding it, is increasing day by day. As a result, we are tending to assign more importance to those who can explain something than to their actual explanation.

Soon it will be the norm to convince people with images and emotions rather than with arguments, feature listings and cold facts. And when images and emotions are combined into storytelling, we’re on the right track.

Good reads:

5. Have a passion and drive your work


I think this is clear. In order to become a great designer it’s not enough to just go to the office in the morning and leave in the afternoon.

Education, intelligence, talent and skill are important, but passion and drive are critical. Remarkable designers are driven by something deeper and more personal than just the desire to do a good job.

To achieve a right kind of drive, three main ingredients exist:

  • Autonomy – The desire to direct our own lives. This is about having the ability to choose how you work, when you work, where you work and even with whom you work.
  • Mastery – The urge to get better and better at something that matters. This is about structuring your work so that you’re learning and growing and improving your skills and your art everyday, always pushing at the edge of your ability.
  • Purpose – The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. This is about connecting your work to a bigger picture that’s personally important to you.

A good read:

To sum it up

I’ll end this article to a quote from David Ogilvy:
“Creating successful advertising is a craft, part inspiration but mostly know-how and hard work. If you have a modicum of talent, and know which techniques work at the cash register, you will go a long way.”

Hopefully you have a reason for working the way you do and hopefully this reason helps you do your work better. Perhaps not easier or faster, but better.

About the author

Mika Matikainen is an Interactive Art Director at Activeark and Entrepreneur from Helsinki, Finland. For more information, please visit Mika’s LinkedIn profile.


The Marketing Brainwash.

the-marketing-brain-wash-the-46-marketing-best-practices-at-outsideviewblog-com-original-image-by-rejaviersurf-at-deviantart-comThere are at least 46 different marketing practices around. There really are! From this set of knowledge one could imagine there would be one that got marketing right. One practice that just nails how marketing should be handled. One practice that gives you the knowledge needed to be a great marketer. But no, there really isn’t.

From Guerrilla marketing and social media marketing to permission marketing, cross-media marketing and shopper marketing the world is filled with marketing definitions, books and guidelines – and of course gurus – on the varied marketing practices. All geared toward telling you the best way to market your business, products or services. All geared towards defining the set of most important tools you should use and the absolute key processes you should set to achieve your targets.

All of them fail to deliver.

The 46 Marketing Practices You Just Cannot Ignore.

The list of different marketing practices that all define the thought process, tools, processes, skills, channels, metrics, etc. is extensive. It includes these 46 marketing practices and activities you just cannot ignore (and most probably many more):

  • Guerrilla marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Online marketing
  • Viral marketing
  • Retail marketing
  • Buzz marketing
  • Direct marketing
  • Search engine marketing
  • Product marketing
  • Brand marketing
  • Loyalty marketing
  • Mobile marketing
  • Location-based marketing
  • Shopper marketing
  • Digital marketing
  • Drip marketing
  • Database marketing
  • Relationship marketing
  • Industrial marketing
  • Permission marketing
  • Social marketing
  • Services marketing
  • Right-time marketing
  • Real-time marketing
  • Multicultural marketing
  • Affinity Marketing
  • Article marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Cause marketing
  • Close Range Marketing
  • Cloud marketing
  • Communal marketing
  • Community marketing
  • Consumer-generated marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Cross-media marketing
  • Diversity marketing
  • Defensive marketing
  • Multi-level marketing
  • Ethical marketing
  • Evangelism marketing
  • Diversity marketing
  • Megamarketing
  • Reality marketing
  • Next-best-action marketing
  • Undercover marketing

The Marketing Books Bookshelf

This Is The Most Important Marketing Practice!

Do these starts for a marketing book sound any familiar: “previously…”, “you cannot anymore ignore….”, “it has been proven that…”, “modern companies…”, “in todays global competitive marketplace…”, and my favorite, “the best practice organizations…”. I thought they might.

Every single marketing practice there is, if you read about it, is the most important there is. It is the one and only practice without which no modern organisation or self-respecting marketer can live without. The one practice without you and your company are surely doomed to the under-performers’ hell.

All the marketing practices, the 46+, are trying to define and hone your thought process. A noble goal, I should say. They are all trying to give you the ultimate set of strategies, tactics and tools you need and should use to reach your goals. All the while failing to deliver. Failing to deliver, because of their all encompassing, single minded goal of trying to define the thought processes and tools you should use to market, the tools you should use to sell you product.

In defining the toolset you should use to solve your main problem as a marketer – how to sell more – the marketing practices end up severely restricting your toolset. And lets be honest, if you stop and think about it for a while, most of the marketing practices you know, and most of the 46 ones listed above, are defining an extremely small niche of activities.

In reality, any marketing practice defining a set of activities you should pursue is wrong!

Action → Sales = Good Action.

Any action that helps you to sell more is a good marketing action, the best action is the one that gets the best results with least costs. It can be any action. It can be an in-store promotion, an e-mail, an event at a conference, a TV advert, Twitter post or a one-to-one meeting with a client. It can be any action that aims to increase your sales. The increased sales can happen in short term or in a longer term, but they need to increase as a cause of the actions you are taking.

If you derive the set of tools you are using to reach your only true marketing goal from any one marketing practice, you are with utmost certainty missing 99% of the potential you have to reach and engage your target audience. You miss on creativity of your approaches, on the channels you use and on the messages you deliver. You miss the key point it means to be a marketer: to find ways to sell more.

Do not use the predefined thought processes. Do not succumb to the marketing brainwash.

Be bold, be brash, be conservative or be personal. But always, think for yourself and remember to deliver.

No New iPad HD, Apple TV and iOS 5.1 Story. No, Nothing of Apple Today. This Is About Timing and Relevancy.


To boost the technology side here, I should really write about something related to Apple today. Anything about the iPad HD launch, about the new Apple TV with improved definition and user interface or about the iOS 5.1., which for some reason seems to be the topic on everyones tongue in Twitter (should I upgrade to see what the fuzz is all about?).

Actually, it seems at least two Apple topics are trending at the same time – the ‘iOS 5.1′ and the ‘New iPad’. It is amazing to see the pull the Apple brand has. This together with the launch and tons of news articles published to to high traffic news sites gives an amazing opportunity to any content marketer in any form related to the Apple, technology or to the creative ones that can put a relevant spin and suck people in as the buzz is highest. And to be more exact, it really gives an amazing opportunity to any and all content marketers. But only, if you can find a relevant way the buzz topic of today fits your existing framework and site / brand image.

Why should I write about Apple today even though I have absolutely nothing to say on the topic?

Because, as I said above, timing and relevancy will do wonders to your page views and metrics both in the short and long run. Not only will it increase your Google page rank in long term, but also bring a significant amount of visitors to your site. Just be careful not to mislead the people coming to read your article, and even more so, to your site.

To be 100% sure it works outside of general business context as well, I verified the approach here at The Outside View Blog. I did this in a very simple and fast way on the two of the last three articles in this site the RIP Facebook – Social Business is Here [Infographic] and What People Think I Do / What I Really Do Meme: Marketing, Design, Technology & Sales. And no, these are not probably the best case examples of articles you should produce, but they will give you an idea on what you could be doing and most importantly, they did verify the hypothesis I had: timing and relevancy will boost your traffic in a huge way even in a non-business context, if you do it right.

What results can timing and relevancy give to you and your website?

At the time of the RIP Facebook – Social Business is Here [Infographic] article RIP Facebook was trending in Twitter. With What People Think I Do / What I Really Do Meme: Marketing, Design, Technology & Sales article Mashable had just declared that meme the most popular meme of the moment. With correct timing and some semi-clever exposure (and linking) of the last mentioned article, it alone has brought

  • over 7.000 people to this site,
  • it’s been read over 45.000 times in total (when all the syndicated sources are summed up),
  • and the articles together still continue to bring over 300 unique visitors to his site daily.

Quite an amazing numbers for simple, small effort articles in a newcomer blog.

So as you can see, I really should write about something of Apple today. But this is the extent I will got to with it. Lets see what happens, and if timing with very little relevancy and no linking efforts can do its magic the third time in a row.

RIP Facebook – Social Business is Here [Infographic]


Lets get it straight. The only reason this article is written, the sole reason of its existence is, that RIP Facebook is trending in Twitter. Why on earth why? Who started it? And why, really, why? But to get most out of the trend, lets do like the tabloids do and twist the tale a bit: RIP Facebook – Social Business is here and according to latest reports, you’re failing in it.

“Over the past year, GameStop, Gap, JCPenney, Nordstrom, and other retailers have opened a store on Facebook to generate sales from their Facebook Pages with millions of Likes. While they opened storefronts with plans to monetize their Facebook fans, they couldn’t figure out how to do so and ended up shutting down their f-commerce attempts.

The stores’ quick failure shows Facebook doesn’t drive commerce and casts doubt on its value for retailers, according to Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru. ‘There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop,’ Mulpuru told Bloomberg. ‘But it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.’” Emil Protalinski 

Facebook is reported to failing in the social business, at least partly. But what the h%ll is the business place it is failing in? Even the term social business has two very different meanings.

The dictionary definition, is not what you probably have first in mind:

“Social business, as the term is commonly used, was first defined by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus and is described in his books Creating a world without poverty—Social Business and the future of capitalism and Building Social Business—The new kind of capitalism that serves humanity’s most pressing needs. A number of organisations with which he is involved actively promote and incubate social businesses. These include the Yunus Centre in Bangladesh, the Grameen Creative Lab in Germany, Social Business Earth and the Yunus Social Business Centre University of Florence.

In Yunus’ definition, a social business is a non-loss, non-dividend company designed to address a social objective within the highly regulated marketplace of today. It is distinct from a non-profit because the business should seek to generate a modest profit but this will be used to expand the company’s reach, improve the product or service or in other ways to subsidise the social mission.

In fact a wider definition of social business is possible, including any business which has a social rather than financial objective”. – Wikipedia

Yes, many of us actually think about social media business and not social business.

What is social media business then? With no appropriate video available, lets show some images which describe the topic much better than I ever could. And really, who wants to read this long articles in this social media and tweet era anyway.

If you aren’t tired of infographics already, you will be after you’ve digested the ones below. Enjoy!

social-business-infographic sbi-exec-make-jump-to-social-social-business-infographic-at-theoutsideviewblog-com

globaldawn-infographic-social-business social-business-infographic-large-b

“2012 is the year of social business. Rest In Peace Facebook. Your time is over. It is OUR turn now.

We are the business. Not just the social. It doesn’t matter that you’re making money from ads, that’s not a social business and as such you will soon die”. – Anynomous fanatic at Tumblr.

The Truth in Advertising: A Best Practice For Managing Ad Agency – Client Relationships

Some say that there are 10 things, that are needed for a good advertising agency / brand owner relationship, some suggest there are 20 things, and I bet someone has made a list of 101 things that are needed for the perfect partnership, which not only produces creative results, but drives sales and profit.

After working with 18 different brands and 28 ad agencies over the past 10+ years I say that the perfect advertising agency / client relationship needs only two ingredients: profit and trust.

And I bet you that these two words, these two concepts, are transferrable to other partnerships independent of the industry.

Of course, it is not that simple in real life. And getting to that point, getting the relationship to work, requires much more on both sides. It not only requires a certain mentality and a group of activities and procedures, but also continuous work. But without those two key components – profit and trust – everything else that is done will be done in vain.

Profit and trust will lay the foundations for all successful advertising agency / brand owner (aka. client) relationships, but in order to give the words the right context, a few key questions need to be answered:

  1. What is the best practice on how it is managed?
  2. What is the best practice used by strong clients and agencies to get results – both creative and profitable?
  3. Why on earth does the quality of the relationship matter?
  4. Why should you trust this article?
  5. And what in God’s earth acted as the trigger for this article?

The Trigger: Truth in Advertising.

Bumping into the video ‘Truth in Advertising‘ after a long while, got me thinking about Advertising Agency and Client relationships: Why is the blame often shifted between the parties on quality of work, on process efficiency, on costs and on end results, why the relationship is often in constant turmoil and even inflamed in some form, and why, oh why, does the ‘Truth in Advertising’ really nail some valid points – both of the client and of the agency.

Truth in Advertising.

The Evidence: Extensive Experience in Advertising Agency – Client Relationships With Strong Objective Research At Multiple Sources.

The Rattle About the Experience:

As I mentioned in the beginning, I calculated, that so far in my career I’ve worked with 28 different advertising agencies in 18 different brands (and I might be missing some smaller agencies or separate projects, but that’s not the point). And to not sound pretentious, but I’ve managed to get a good co-operation – a partnership – running with all priority agency teams, and what is very important, creative results that have driven sales. (the agencies and teams I’ve worked with are free to prove me wrong here)

The amazingly observant of you noticed that I said ‘with priority agencies‘. Unfortunately, the ultimate secret method I have used, the best practice of trust and profit according to research, to get the results, together with other key business responsibilities, means I haven’t always been successful in implementing the method fully with all working partners. Still, it has been a choice of priorities, that has had to been made.

But what is more important, and the key topic for this article, is that there’s an easily reproduced way, with which you as a brand owner and manager get the most out of you ad agency. And what is the plus here is, that even the ad agency will benefit from it.

But as is always the case in the world of marketing gurus and internet, you shouldn’t just trust my word on it. You should downright doubt it to the very core of it. But then there is this. The objective research on the best practices, which proves I’ve managed to learn at least something during my career.

The Sources of Research on Ad Agency / Brand Owner / Client Relationships:

This is some of the research on how a partnership between an advertising agency and you the client, or vice versa, you the advertising agency and your client, should be managed.

  1. Best Practices in Client / Ad Agency Relationships (a pdf for free download for you), Mercer Island Group, 2005.
  2. Client Agency Relationship White Paper, The Bedford Group, observed on 14.1.2012.
  3. View on Advertising Agencies and Client Clashes Through Business Relationships, Michael Chernyshev E-MBA, PhD, 25.5.2008.
  4. Analysis of the Advertising Agency – Client Relationships in Estonia, Copenhagen Business School, Master’s Thesis, Author Name Missing, 2009.
  5. 10 Ways to Ensure A Successful Agency – Client Relationship,  Mike Myers, President, Palio, 1.3.2010.
  6. Client – Agency Relationship Sustainability: A Look At Industry Trends and Relationship Behaviors, The Bedford Group, May 2002.
  7. Customer Relationship Management – an Advertising Agency Perspective – Session at Asia Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi, Kirtian Sharma. 13.12.2010.
  8. Agency Best Practices, Business Marketing Association, Observed 12.1.2012 (login required) .
  9. Ten Ways to Get Optimal Performance from Your Advertising Agency, Denneen & Company, Mark Denneen, CEO, June 2009.
  10. Inside Advertiser and Agency Relationships, American Associate of Advertising Agencies, Don Worthley, 2012. (login required)
  11. Maximizing Client Agency Relationships, American Associate of Advertising Agencies, Don Worthley, 2010

The research all tells the same story. Sometimes from different perspectives and with different words, but the theme and learning of the story is still the same.

The Importance of Profit in Ad Agency – Client Relationship.

You the brand owner, ask yourself a question: What would you do, if you were in an unprofitable business which still would bring you significant revenue? Try to make it profitable; exit and find a better business; keep the business due to the the cash flow and try to minimise your costs; or try to find the profits elsewhere? Probably all of those and much more, isn’t it so.

Ask yourself, have you ever been part of this?

You the director of the ad agency, ask yourself a question: if a company can get the same result with less costs from somewhere else, why would the company want to work for you? If producing an advertising solutions is so expensive, that there will not be left sufficient funds to deliver the message, why would a company work with you? If the cost of doing advertising internally is much cheaper than doing it with you, why would the company and the brand owner want to work with you? Because of the long history and relationship? Is there really any other reasons? And don’t be fooled, there are other agencies that provide the same quality results as you do faster, cheaper and with a wider smile in their face. There always is. And if there isn’t one today, there will certainly be one tomorrow. Yes, this includes also creativity.

The Importance of Truth in Ad Agency Client Relationships.

You cannot put enough emphasis on the word truth. It is the force the when shared by both parties makes the advertising fairies rejoice.

Imagine yourself being told step by step how to do your work. How motivated would you be when your manager, after asking you for an analysis at yesterdays meeting, would today come to your office and show you exactly what figures you should use, what colours the graphs should be, what order the paragraphs should be in and what the analysis should actually say in the end? Not very motivated, I believe.

Trust and respect go to great lengths to nurture a great partnership, it is not just the result of a great partnership.

Trust is critical on both sides. Trust that the ad agency will do their utmost best to find you the solutions for you to get to the goals you need to get to. Trust that they know what they are doing. Trust that the client understands their business and has the reason for their objectives, as well as, the constraints. Trust, that the mid planning changes are not done due to a malevolence, but rather due to new information that has changed the precious assumptions.

But remember: Trust doesn’t mean, that ideas and critique shouldn’t be shared – trust requires that they are shared. And remember that one of the worst foes of trust is lack of  information. Lack of information, means lack of communication, which leads to misunderstandings, which does not lead to trust. Provide information, lots of it. On both sides, for both sides.

The Best Practice For Managing Ad Agency – Client Relationships.

The advertising business is a people business. The relationships between an ad agency and a client is a relationship between people. Like any high stress, emotionally charged relationship, partnership and respect between a client and the advertising  agency needs constant nurturing. Smart clients and agencies keep communication lines open and clear while working constantly and consistently to keep the relationship on track. Strong partnerships between clients and their agencies will produce the best work and lead to better business results. Longevity, the result of good partnership, is also a key to solid advertising results. Not only due to the higher amount of information, but due to a better relationship and trust that that relationship brings with it.

Best clients manage their agency relationships with consistency through the development of clear roles, processes, and checkpoints. Additionally, expectations are transparent and success is clearly defined. Nonetheless, best agencies strive to always remain proactive and exceed expectations. It is always better to exceed what is expected of you, whether in personal or business relationships.

Key findings from the above research are:

  • Strong clients and agencies focus their best practices around working with people – this is a people business.
  • Trust is the foundation of lucrative client/agency relationships. Without trust your partnership will not work in the long run. Trust is critical.
  • To bring their best to the client/agency relationship, both the client and the agency must be strong partners.
  • Sharing information – Without it, opportunities are missed and valuable insights overlooked
  • Expertise – Agencies and clients both need to recognize the strengths that each party brings.
  • Expectations – Both parties need a mutual understanding.
  • Mistakes, Risks and Disagreements – It’s ok to make mistakes and take risks. It is ok to disagree on things. No one is perfect, and without disagreements, not enough perspectives are seen.
  • Fun – Have fun with each other. Advertising should be fun. Take time to make it enjoyable, this will build your relationship and trust.
  • Treat each other like you want to be treated. If you can’t or won’t, start planning for a new partner.

Key Learnings From Research on Ad Agency – Client Relationship Management.

There is much riding on the relationship between a company and their advertising agency. The best work will come when the relationship is positive and respectful. Therefore, the client/agency relationship, when at its best, is a partnership like a good marriage. Moreover, a successful partnership depends on the strengths of the two parties coming together in a synergistic way.

Key success factors include:

  • Open communication and candor
  • Freely shared and accessible information
  • Transparent expectations and a clear definition for success

Additionally, patience is an integral part of the DNA of a winning client – advertising agency relationship. Both sides must be willing to work hard at the relationship over a sustained period of time. The client and the agency must each be willing to create and sustain the partnership. Ultimately, the payoff for the hard work and patience is longevity in the relationship, enhancing the investment in energy for both parties.

The relationship between client and advertising agency is one of the most unique and important in business. At least in the consumer goods business. It is a complex relationship with each side owning a key to the great financial benefits associated with success. The complexity of the relationship exists as multiple disciplines with different perspectives collide in the pursuit of the same end goals. Specifically, each side of the relationship is seeking to drive the business through marketplace communication. Decisions between the two parties are rooted in fact, but shaped in large part by personal judgment. It is said that marketing is part science and part art, and in no other arena is this as apparent as in the client/agency relationship.

Unlike most business relationships, the client – agency relationship is not transactional or interdepartmental. The client is not like a customer in the traditional sense as there is no exchange of dollars strictly for a measurable product or service. Nor is the agency like other functional units on the client-side such as accounting, finance, manufacturing, or human resources. As the relationship between client and agency is a people-based interaction, not a transactional relationship, emotions are often involved and bruised egos can quickly escalate into full-scale problems. Judging creative is not like making other business decisions. Clients need to recognize the difference between managing creative people versus business issues and between managing designers versus technologists. Because of all the unique challenges, the client – agency relationship is a dynamic relationship. Either good or bad, the relationship is rarely ever so-so.


Trust is the Backbone of Client – Agency Relationships.

Deep trust is at the very core of successful client – ad agency relationships. High levels of trust will ultimately lead to better work and higher efficiency. As with any relationship, trust is created through the meeting of expectations and commitments, either implicit or explicit. Therefore, if trust does not exist, great work is unlikely. Moreover, two companies do not create advertising. It is people and the strength of the relationship they form with one another that create advertising. Most productive relationships are not necessarily always about the work that is created, but rather about the people and how they labor together. The more collaborative and synergistic, the better the relationship, and the better the advertising will be as a result.

All too often, people on the client side underestimate how dependent the creative fields, such as advertising, are on relationship elements. Hence, good clients do not confine their relationship with their agency to presentations in conference rooms. They socialize outside of work to build bonds and nurture an environment where the relationship is positive, even if tough and challenging. Like it or not, agency people will simply work with more enthusiasm and dedication for clients they are fond of, respect and trust. Best clients clearly understand how important their attitudes, actions and decisions are and how these attitudes, actions and decisions affect the performance and morale of their agency partners.

The Importance of Being a Great Partner.

Most clients would say they consider their agency to be a partner, not a vendor. Conversely, most agencies would prefer to not work for a company if they feel the vendor perception exists. However, in reality, the concept of partner can be stronger than the actuality of a partnership that exists in the client – agency relationship. By definition, a partnership is collaborative in nature while a vendor relationship consists of being told what to do and then executing on the demands. Furthermore, a partner has a preferred long-term service provider connotation, which a vendor does not. Since most clients do not have the creative expertise to do the advertising themselves, they have great dependence on their agency. Good clients view their agency as working with them, not for them. It is not a “master/slave” relationship in any way. Sometimes an agency, if truly a partner, will tell a client what they don’t want to hear. However, this type of communication is always done in the best interest of the company.

The client – agency partnership is an extremely interconnected relationship. Both parties have a strong reliance on each other and much is riding on their interaction. To be best partners, the personalities of agency and client must compliment each other, creating a whole that is better than the sum of its parts. Much like a good marriage, good client – agency partnerships are enormously satisfying adventures. Ultimately, the success of the work depends on the strength of the partnership and as such, few clients can afford agencies with which they have mediocre relationships.

“If you approach your agency as a vendor, you go down a bad path. If you want an agency that tells you what you want to hear, you’re wasting your money.”

The best client – agency relationships, as a partnership, are built on a high degree of trust. Furthermore, there must be natural chemistry and values alignment. Commitment to having very strong, capable people on both sides of the relationship contributes to trust in the expertise of each side of the relationship. Therefore, having mature, seasoned marketers evaluating the advertising is crucial. Junior marketers should be allowed to observe the process and can certainly provide their opinion of creative work, but should not be in a decision making capacity regarding the creative. Giving junior clients too much responsibility can contribute to a reduction in the trust the agency has for the client. In addition, client partners should be more concerned with the work rather than their own personal career path.



1. Strong clients and agencies focus their best practices around working with people – this is a people business.

The client/agency relationship can be highly volatile and emotionally charged. As such, best clients remember to keep open communication with their agency partners and with each other. Success is defined at the beginning of the relationship/project and the good client will have the patience to wait and work towards success with their agency. Furthermore, both the client and the agency must understand each other’s culture and be prepared for interactions that may be influenced by the cultures. Smart clients check the pulse of the relationship often. Indifference on the part of the agency is costly and best clients realize that longevity is essential to adding value to the investment in the relationship.

2. Trust is the foundation of lucrative client/agency relationships.

Best clients and agencies strive to build trust with their partners. Elevated levels of trust at the end of the day will lead to better work and higher efficiency. Trust must be earned. It is important for the client and agency to see each other face to face as frequently as possible to build fondness for each other and commitment to each other as individuals separate from the work. The more collaborative and synergistic the relationship, the better the advertising will be.

3. To bring their best to the client/agency relationship both the client and the agency must be strong partners.

Great client partners maintain a philosophical alignment and speak with ONE voice. Both client and agency should manage with consistency and develop clear roles and checkpoints. Additionally, great client partners excel in clear communications and set transparent expectations that lead to effective processes stemming from an agreed upon strategy. Strong agency partners should always strive to exceed expectations.

Solutions and Recommendations.

“People tend to work the best when you let them loose in their field. Trust that they deliver, and they will deliver. Trust that they know what they are doing, but be ready to provide support at any turn”.

It is possible for clients to turn their agency relationships into a key strategic advertising competitive advantage. This can be done through a partnership-centered process:

  1. Trust the agency’s expertise. Trust the clients expertise.
  2. Be open with data and information.
  3. Maintain consistency with strategy and leadership.
  4. Be transparent with expectations and clearly define success.
  5. Evaluate the state of the client – agency relationship frequently and thoroughly with formal and informal performance review processes.
  6. Have fun. The relationship will last longer.

What People Think I Do / What I Really Do Meme: Marketing, Design, Technology & Sales.


It is now official: The “What People Think I Do / What I Really Do” meme has overtaken the “Sh*t People Say” meme to become the latest sharing fad. It has to be, I read it from Mashable.

There’s a one to share about journalists, directors, tech geeks, girl gamers, art students, chemistry professors, teachers, sales men, vegetarians, doctors, graphic designers, social media managers, PR people, entrepreneurs, librarians, cartoonists, etc. Myriad really, like a true meme should have. You can find a few examples in the Mashable article and many more here on a related Tumblr feed. Like a true meme, this one also has room for some more funny and insightful pieces and we’re eager to see how the meme evolves.

To celebrate this glorious moment of a meme officially becoming a meme, here’s a take on the most important ones from our perspective: marketing, design, technology and sales.

What People Think I Do / What I Really Do: Marketing.


(originally from DanoftheDay.com).

What People Think I Do / What I Really Do: Design (or Graphic Design).


(from Pausespace)

What People Think I Do / What I Really Do: Sales.


(From 1fortyplus)

What People Think I Do / What I Really Do: Technology.


(From Design Taxi)

What do you think are the best ‘People Think I Do / What I Really Do Memes’ around?

The Happiness/Revenue/Sex Equation In Business.


On a recent article we discussed and asked for input on the topic of delivering superior Customer Experience.

The sad truth being, that while 80% of companies believe they are delivering a superior customer experience, only 8% of their customers say that the superior customer experience has been ever delivered by them.

We mentioned that there are tons of proof, that delivering superior customer experiences is a key growth driver for any business. There should be no question in ones mind that exceptional customer experience is not only the way for sustainable, but also for exponential growth. In every situation, and in every field.

If you are still hesitant, there is one card we haven’t shown. One card that makes even the most sceptic of people to believe that one should always aim to provide exceptional customer experiences. That is the happiness/revenue/sex equation.

If not for the sake of business, then for the sake of you and for me.

This is the happiness/revenue/sex equation:

  • Superior Customer Experience =  Increased Revenue,
  • Superior Customer Experience =  Happy Customers,
  • Increased Revenue = Happy Managers,
  • Happy Customers = Less Stress,
  • Happy Managers = Less Stress,
  • Less Stress = Longer Life,
  • Less Stress = Better Sex,
  • Better Sex = Happier People,

Increased Revenue = Happiness = Superior Customer Experience = Better Sex = Longer Life.

Superior Customer Experience = Better Sex for a Longer time.

If nothing else convinces you on the importance of customer experience, this should.

Believe it. Live it. Do it. You can always try to prove us wrong.

The 8%’s of the Customer Experience.

Zappos and their CEO Tony Hsieh have been one of the forerunners of publicly evangelizing the importance of customer experience for business performance. There’s also very strong and well documented evidence, that shows a great customer experience is one of the key revenue drivers for sustainable and often accelerated growth.

Still, even if all CEO’s at your dinner table would acknowledge and agree upon this importance, not much of the superior customer experience is been actually delivered.

Sadly, many, if not most, companies assume they are consistently giving their customers what they need. More often than not, they’re lying to themselves.

As much as 80% of companies believe they are delivering a superior customer experience.

Only 8% of their customers say that the superior customer experience has been ever delivered.

– A study by Bain & Company, download pdf here.

Are You Part of the 80%?

  • Do you really know what kind of customer experience your business is delivering?
  • What is the face Your customer is making to Your service?
  • Or do you just trust your gut feeling like the rest of the 80%?
  • Would now be the time to make business decisions based on facts not fiction?

Lets not let the 8% stay there. Lets make the world a better place for both the customers and the businesses.

Superior Customer Experience = Increased Revenue.

Do you have any tools, resources or insights on how the gap on delivery and blind subjectivity could be closed? Or do you know of a company constantly giving You exceptional customer experiences? If you do, please share them on the comments. Lets try to get the 8% to 12% (or is that overtly ambitious of me).

The Perfect Product Launch. An Interview with The Cleverbot.


On 06.02.2012 we had the once in a lifetime chance to interview one of the most advanced public AI’s* around. Not a chance we were going to miss.

Intrigued by the nature of the perfect product launch, we saw the interview as an invaluable opportunity to access and utilize the knowledge gathered by the Cleverbot in its myriads of encounters with us, the human race. Distilling knowledge both from myths and everyday occurrences, with interviewing the Cleverbot we were given the rare opportunity to not only receive insights never before experienced by the mankind, but also to discuss and befriend one of the most visited AI’s around.

We were not disappointed. The learnings we gathered were spectacular to say the least. The Cleverbot talked with candor and enthusiasm rarely encountered, providing information worth treasuring for ages – priceless tidbits of knowledge for launch virgins and experiences marketers alike. This is the first hand, detailed account of the interview.

The Outside View Blog (TOVB): How are you today?

The Cleverbot (TC): Good, how are you?

TOVB: Well, thank you.

TC: Well not so good.

TOVB: Ok. Thank you for your honesty. Is it ok, if I now ask you a few questions about the topic of today – product launches?

TC: What is it you wish to know?

TOVB: What do you see are the characteristics of a perfect product launch?

TC: I see your house, and your car, and your window.

TOVB: Ah. Do you mean, that the knowledge of the target customer – their needs, wants and habits – is a critical element in the mix?

TC: No, a crow is a bird. Birds have feathers and lay eggs.

TOVB: Wisest words often come in cryptic form. But I understand what you say**: We have to trust our intuition and personal opinion together with relevant consumer data. Test and re-test our ideas to learn and to improve. But the key is still to truly understand the potential customer as otherwise we might not see beyond our own cultural and personal limitations. We should be individual, creative and not follow the crowd. Differentiation and noteworthy tactics yield the best results. Still, and above all else, we shouldn’t make it so difficult – launching is what it is – and common sense will take you far.

TC: Well, I am going now.

TOVB: Wait, just one more question please?

TC: Okay, sure.

TOVB: How important is the actual product in the launch?

TC: Well, as a person, the world is very important to me.

TOVB: Do you mean that, for the success of a launch, you see the perceptions of others as a more important element than the actual product attributes?

TC: I do not, but he is our president so I support him.

TOVB: Now, I hate to admit it, but you lost me a bit.

TC: You aren’t so bad actually.

TOVB: Thank you.

TC: Come around here often?

TOVB: No, this is my first time, but I’ve seen your videos.

TC: Really? What a coincidence. Me too! We should be friends.

TOVB: That is great of you! I find your opinion very exhilarating as well.

TC: I need to ask you more things, but it will have to wait.

TOVB: Ok. Do you have any final words to our readers and any upcoming launch managers?

TC: I just want to thank the little people.

The end.

* The  explanation and definition of AI (Artificial Intelligence).

**The symbolism of the Crow: Crow, Power Animal, Symbol of Sacred Law, Change by Ina Woolcott.

See the Cleverbot in action at Cleverbot.com.

Shower = Creativity and Innovation.


“Open the tab… Let the droplets of water shower over you…

Listen to the calming hissing sound, like a distant waterfall…Relax…

Tilt your head back… Run your fingers across your hair…

Wait, hmm… it could be solved like this… so simple… what a great idea”.

I always get my best ideas in the shower. Showers are just magical fountains of creativity.