You Can't Do Big Things Without the Little Ones

Recognize All Contributions and Your Agency May Produce Even More

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There's a saying that goes, "If you do the little things well, you'll do the big ones better." In our business, agencies typically get noticed for the big things -- amazing creative output, campaigns that are broad in scope and breakthrough in execution, the tangible output that we can point to and say, "That is an agency that leads the way for us all."

Of course it's easy to see the benefit of a beautifully executed campaign. There's an emotional connection to work that is creatively compelling and resonant. The big things are why we are in the business. Really, has anyone ever said, "I want to be in advertising because I get to write compelling meeting reports"? We all want to be doing what we are doing because every once in a while -- when the stars align and the groundwork is done properly -- we get to be part of one of those sweeping, all-encompassing and agency-defining campaigns. The campaigns we all talk about.

But what about the little things that occur on a daily basis that help create those campaigns? Rarely do you hear praise for a really well-crafted job start or creative brief that is truly motivating and insightful. We celebrate the external work that agencies produce when we should be equally celebratory about the internal work that gets us there, too. Or, the little things that lead to the big things.

Yes, it's harder to get excited about that meeting report than it is to be excited about a digital execution that 's never been done before. But, isn't that internal meeting report just as much a part of creating an agency-defining campaign as the external executions that the world ultimately sees?

It may be considered a bit of heresy in the agency world, but I truly believe that part of the natural tension that exists inside of agencies (especially between creative and account teams) is because creative teams want to be surrounded by people who are just as passionate and emotional about that meeting report as the creative team is about conceiving ideas. And the account teams want the creatives to recognize that there is creativity in managing client relationships.

So I think that it's time to focus the entire agency on celebrating everything that we do and create agency teams that are equally passionate about a great creative idea as they are about the everyday, functional business actions that (when done with passion) can lead to amazing creative output. We need to recognize that each function in the agency sets the groundwork to make the big things possible. At our agency, we call this the great work mentality -- and we work really hard to make sure that everyone, every day, thinks that each and every project has the potential to be the coolest thing they've ever worked on. If we start to infuse importance and meaning into all the work, then even the little things that can seem like tedium take on a bigger meaning and set the stage for everyone in the agency to achieve more.

Finally, wouldn't it be great if everyone got credit for the work that goes out the door? Not just the creative and production teams who bring the idea to life, but also the account coordinator who is responsible for the job start; the account planner who has the insight to push the brief further; the media planner who recognizes an opportunity that didn't exist before; the account supervisor who sells the idea to the client; even the finance team who makes sure that we are profitable (so that we can keep doing the big things). In reality, don't all the people who work on the account play a role in making the big things even bigger?

I feel like the more we recognize that everybody at the agency has a role, a value proposition and ownership of the big things that are externally celebrated, the more that big things will start to happen. Perhaps if we, as an industry, do a better job of also celebrating the little things internally at each of our agencies we will all have more to celebrate collectively as well.

Meredith Vaughan is president of Vladimir Jones, Colorado Springs, Colo.
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