Clients, Copy, and Creative

Every day offers something unexpected.

That’s my favorite part of being a creative director at Sudden Impact Marketing. Here’s a look at a typical day for me in our fast-paced B2B direct marketing agency.

7:40 a.m. Despite what my schedule says I’m doing today, it’s going to change. It’s the nature of the work and clients—aggressive timelines; fluid schedules; impromptu meetings; and daily fire drills.

This morning I see that Christine, an account executive (AE), scheduled a 9 a.m. meeting to work on video storyboards. It’s taken months to get the script approved (which happened just yesterday) and now our client wants the rest completed quickly.

I check the team’s workload to see if I can free up our art director, Mike, to focus almost exclusively on the storyboards for the next few days. Because our team is trained across client brands, we have the flexibility to move people between projects without it affecting the end product.

9 a.m. It’s a tight project timeline, so we invite additional team members to throw more brain power into the meeting. It’s a gamble—too many people can bog down a project; too few, and you don’t explore possibilities to the fullest extent.

In this case, the mix is right. Ideas are flying around, yet we’re making good progress. It’s a lot of start, stop, rewind, revise, next. One hour turns into two. But this herky-jerky process gives us a great first draft. And having the creative team, animator, and AE together means we have the entire team’s input right now. It also means we have everyone’s buy-in.

11 a.m. New project kickoff for a brochure. Vance, an AE, and Adam, a writer, discuss the brief and reference materials. My role is mainly as observer, so that when it comes time to review creative work I can keep things moving forward efficiently. This is also when we ensure that the messaging is right before we proceed. 

11:25 a.m. While heading back to my desk, Mike and Ed, a designer, ask me to weigh in on an infographic. It’s a short conversation about how to best handle last-minute edits. We discuss the options, the merits of each, and which is best. We have many meetings like this in a day. We prefer to discuss ideas or issues in real time, as well as leverage the collective talents of our team. It makes for a far better product, faster.

11:40 a.m. A good part of my day is spent reviewing copy, usually in two or three passes. First, a quick read to see if I can easily understand what’s going on—subject lines, headlines, calls-to-action. This is how most people, who we call scanners, are going to read it. We put a lot of focus on how content is consumed. More than ever, it’s got to be highly relevant, fast to absorb, and easy to act on.

My second pass is to review for relevancy, clarity, grammar, spelling, and where to cut. One of the best tricks I’ve learned is to write something and then cut it almost in half. It’s amazing how well this works to make copy really perform. 

If there’s a third pass, it means a rewrite is imminent.


Noon Lunch in the office kitchen: leftovers.

12:30 p.m. Back to reviewing copy—a presentation and companion brochure.

1:15 p.m. Shannon, a writer, instant messages (IMs) me to look at client comments about a solution brief. Here’s a point where projects can get off track: New ideas being introduced into a piece. Sometimes we can get it to work. Often, though, it muddies the focus—meaning it runs the risk of underperforming. We agree that Shannon needs to talk with the AE about our concerns.

2 p.m. Christine scheduled a proposal review meeting to ensure that a new project is accurately scoped. It’s one of our checks to ensure that we properly set client expectations. We pull up the estimate and make adjustments to writing and design hours. Some up, some down.

2:30 p.m. Back to more copy. And then some designs.

3:15 p.m. Craig, the president, calls over through the wall. It’s normal for us to communicate this way. In this case, though, it’s apparent this is going to be a longer conversation. As a business partner, I’m involved in sales, operations, and financial decisions. We’re having issues with a vendor and there’s risk that a project could go south. Best to get ahead of it now to ensure the best outcome for our client.

4:45 p.m. Action plan is in place. Now back to copy.

5:15 p.m. Shannon IMs me again. She’s resolved the solution brief issue and wants to run the revised copy by me. It’s good stuff.

6 p.m. Didn’t quite get all the creative documents reviewed, but they’re not all due today. I’ll look at them tomorrow when I get up. With coffee.

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