The big talk of this week is whether or not tomorrow’s election will generate a coming-together of parties to fulfil a government role.
With things looking so tight in the opinion polls so far, more and more speculation surrounds the concept of a coalition.
Want to know the Wikipedia definition of Coalition? (no matter, I’ll share it anyway):
Def. A temporary alliance for combined action, especially of political parties forming a government.
And where else do we see that kind of combined action alliance in a professional sphere?
Well, certainly when it comes to the delivery of joined-up fully encompassing marketing comms work.
That’s not to say there aren’t one-party (ahem, I mean, one company) options where a business or brand can take their requirement to a single-service agency for an entire marketing project roll-out.
Indeed, there are many who’ll unveil an exhaustive list of inhouse comms activities they can complete for you – from a website creation, to brand production, media buying, press relations, marketing strategy, social media management, SEO, PPC…and much more besides.
But delve deeper, and in a number of cases you’ll find that the delivery is coming via an informed and experienced ‘coalition’ of creatives, all bringing their attributes to the table – possibly under one white-label banner.
So, here’s the important question:
Is a coalition a detrimental approach when it comes to confident and successful creative project fulfilment?
I’ve worked as both consultant in coalitions, and in the context of a full-service agency, and in my humble opinion, they both have their upsides and downsides.
What matters most is not how ‘joined at the hip’ these creatives are, but whether you’re getting the BEST people, with the BEST skillset for your task, and with the BEST lines of communication to ensure you’re informed and consulted every step of the way.
What you don’t want, is to be filtering questions and updates from multiple channels, nor being left with a compromised offering because an inhouse option doesn’t actually have the level of experience it lays claim to.
Whatever the route you choose to go, here’s some essential criteria for tasking the right people and ensuring the best level of delivery.
Does it feel right?
Sounds daft, but when it comes to working with people on a project as important as your brand or business, you really need to feel they have the empathy or the personality which makes them ‘fit’ with your vision.
You don’t have to want to invite them to your birthday party, but trusting and liking them (or at least respecting them) is important.
Who communicates to who and how?
This matters whether you’re going coalition route or one full-service option. You need to be sure from the outset who is ‘project managing’ everyone and going to be keeping you well informed.
If you brought in multiple tradespeople to renovate your home, you’d want a good supervising figure with a high level of communication ability. Same is true here.
Brief well, and to the right people.
Project failures can often come down to a lack of correct briefing. It’s imperative that you insist ALL the right project participants are part of early briefing. Don’t rely on chinese whispers being conveyed to different creatives. Allow them all to share with you the benefit of their experience and the pitfalls they see upfront.
Budget will dictate some of your decision around creative work. There’s no hard and fast rule as to whether an alliance or coalition will be less or more expensive, but it’s vital that you find out what you’ll be charged, by whom, and at what stage in the process.
If you want one single invoice, state it from the start. Don’t allow money issues among an alliance to become your problem.
The best coalitions make it so seamless you’d think you were working with one company anyway.
Never be afraid to critique as you go.
Just because you’re bringing some professionals to the table to help with your business, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have your say throughout every step of the process.
Build in – with the project manager’s help at the start – opportunities for appraisal and reflection, to ensure everyone stays absolutely on track.
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