The Oxford dictionary defines Trust as the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
• Gaining the Trust of the Client means getting to know them and having a good understanding of the advertiser’s business goals by listening, translating, interpreting, and solving
• Remembering that they are essentially selling a product through creative storytelling
• Putting yourself in the Client’s shoes and understanding the pressures they face so that you can help them succeed
• Being the production face of the Agency, the objective voice of reason, and facilitating internal collaboration with account and creative teams with clear and open lines of communication, and honest discussions that are solution-oriented
• Knowing that it’s not only about meeting the Client’s goals, it’s also about maintaining the creative integrity of the ideas while being financially responsible with the Client’s funds.
A great agency producer has a voice; plays a vital role in leading the creative production process from start to finish. There is a fine line between guiding a client through the process and taking direction from a client. The key to success for the agency producer is finding the right balance between the two.
Getting involved as early as possible makes the difference later when the creative ideas reach the production phase.
As part of the creative team, the agency producer should be the voice of reason, collaborating and providing technical and creative input to ensure the Agency can produce the creative ideas on time and within budget.
A further note about production budgets; clients will have different internal processes and approaches when sharing production budgets with agency partners. A savvy client will provide production budget parameters to their agency partners the minute they decide to launch a campaign. Surprisingly that does not always happen. An agency producer’s good rule of thumb is to ask and ascertain what the Client is willing to spend to execute the work. Don’t wait! Ask this important question!
Once creative scripts are locked and loaded, it is essential to align with clients on specific content needs; asset deliverables, and technical specifications. Knowing allows the producer to bid correctly and negotiate with third-party production partners.
It is also essential to have accurate ship dates to create and maintain a master production calendar with critical review and approval dates to keep everyone on schedule.
Hero Product or Service – “the reason we are here.” It is vital to have a thorough understanding of the product or service. After all, it is why so many people come together to create and execute content to market to consumers. Asking the Client for a hero production guide tutorial is a great way to get to know your Client’s perspective and ensure that you can plan for obtaining physical, shipping, and handling during filming.
Casting and styling – can be points of contention during the production process, so the agency producer needs to make sure there is alignment between creative teams and the Client before engaging the Director who brings the creative ideas to life.
Music; often neglected until the 11th hour, so getting an aligned music brief waylays the headache that can come later when trying to find the right directional approach at the last minute.
Communication is vital once this phase starts as producers may encounter clients with differing knowledge and experience executing creative content.
Making the Client feel like they are part of the team rather than an annoyance helps further build that valuable, trusted relationship.
They work with creative teams and other partners to ensure that the Client gets initial casting, styling, and location options, updating all parties in real-time.
They keep track of dollars throughout the process, discuss and get client approval before having incremental work done, and offer the most cost-effective solutions when required.
Remember that you are negotiating on the Client’s behalf regarding the money; financial responsibility is critical.
Flexibility is vital as there are multiple parties with different sensibilities. As a producer, finding common ground will be challenging and rewarding when all parties are aligned each step of the way.
This phase of the process can be the most challenging. It’s where the rubber meets the road. As an agency producer, being ever-present and alert to issues that arise and being ready to change course quickly will in successful outcomes exponentially.
The pre-production meeting is the time to review the Director’s storyboard, confirm casting, wardrobe, locations, discuss hero product and how to film and incorporate it into the storyline, plus any other outstanding issues. Listening to the Client’s concerns and asks, determining how best to resolve, and knowing how to get clients to reconsider by offering different solutions and perspectives that will meet their goals
Don’t leave the PPM without everyone’s alignment.
Remember 1st that the Client often is and does feel outnumbered on set. Depending on the Client’s level of confidence and ease of expertise, this can affect the vibe of the shoot. There will be multiple parties with different agendas, so the Client’s voice mustn’t get lost in the shuffle.
Ensure that the Client has a voice. Take the feedback seriously and be ready and able to translate their issues/concerns to the creative teams and the Director, providing suggestions and solutions to keep filming moving. Make sure the Client is good with the film footage before moving to the next scene setup.
Clients don’t be like to be blindsided. Avoid overages as much as possible if the Client does not ask for drastic changes while filming; the production company should execute the work in the time allotted. That is barring any unforeseen acts of nature that cannot be controlled under normal circumstances. The Client should not have to bear the financial responsibility for everything, so the agency producer needs to be alert, knowing what’s happening from all sides to make informed decisions and negotiate alternative solutions within reason between parties. Making this effort also deepens Trust between Agency and Client.
The film is all you have, so don’t leave without getting the shots you need. The Client will never understand or appreciate paying money and not getting their money’s worth. Be prepared to quickly resolve issues no matter what they are between all parties.
This phase can go entirely “pear-shaped” if you’re not careful.
As an agency producer, you’ll be juggling multiple layers during this phase. Receiving, interpreting, and integrating client feedback can be daunting with the pressure to finish on time. So it is even more important to one have had an alignment in the previous phases and two, have the flexibility and creativity to solve and course-correct as needed quickly.
A detailed production calendar with key milestones clearly outlined for review and approval dates is necessary. It is the most effective way to help you get timely feedback from the Client, ensure the creative teams are aligned and the process stays on track.
Clients have different levels of expertise regarding the technical aspects of editing. Here’s where the agency producer can both educate and translate. As an agency producer, knowing when and how to help clients navigate this critical phase builds and deepens the agency-client relationship.
Lastly, it is essential to conduct a “post-op” on creative projects to identify pain points and opportunities for improvement, celebrate successes along the way, and utilize critical learnings; integrating them for the next project will facilitate continuous success.
Illustration by johnhain