How self-imposed times are content killers.
A good idea can come to you in a second.
Buy-in of the idea can reach a group consensus in minutes.
A great campaign can come from that shared idea in an hour-long brainstorm.
Creation of the great idea. Now, that could take days. Maybe weeks.
But what happens when you find out you don’t have a while; you have only a few fleeting moments?
Time is no longer on your side; it’s your biggest adversary. (And Father Time is undefeated.)
The one commonality in all agencies is to see a job ticking down to zero. It’s unavoidable.
Rushed deadlines can sink a concept—or worse—lead to rushed work that doesn’t reflect your agency’s full abilities, capabilities or creative side. That false reflection can lead to long-lasting effects that could possibly give your client some retainer remorse.
Think of it this way. You finally got ahold of your grandmother’s secret, made-from-scratch apple pie recipe. You peeled, cored and thinly sliced the apples, you rolled the crust, you melted the butter, stirred in the white sugar and brown sugar to form your sugary filling, the crust is placed in the pan, the apples, mounded ever so slightly, are placed on top of the crust, the filling is slowly poured over the apples, and the lattice-work crust is symmetrically laid on the top. The cook time is one hour at 425°. But you turn the oven on and set the timer for 25 minutes.
Despite all your meticulous focus and attention to detail, how do you think your pie would turn out? Better yet, how would it taste to those you’re serving it to?
While that example takes more of an Upton Sinclair approach to get the point across—aiming for your heart and hitting your stomach—the truth behind the apple pie remains valid. The preparation, creation and attention to detail mean nothing if not given the proper amount of time to fully execute.
So, ask yourself, are you literally creating a half-baked idea?
Don’t get me wrong, feeling rushed or rushing others is human nature. Now more than ever, we live in a need-it-now reality, and it’s not always great to live under such pressure at all times. Our own bodies react to it. When the pressure is on, you perspire, you get fidgety, your personality goes from calm to slightly manic. Mostly, you don’t have time to think things through.
Think back to how it felt when your teacher dropped a pop quiz. You instantly got nervous and panicked. You anticipate a test, book report, etc., but when something is unscheduled and must be completed in a condensed amount of time, it’s shocking. It was unexpected and you had no time to prepare, let alone think things through based on the time limit of the quiz. No time to prepare or think.
Just see how some young students performed when given a simple task – draw a clock. One with an improbable time limit and another with more breathing room.
I guess timing is everything, right?
Ultimately, then, why do we feel that time should be the first casualty in the creative process? From Account Service to Creative, we all know the shackles that come with self-imposed deadlines. We all feel the effects of a time crunch daily. So why do we collectively agree to “spring forward” our deadlines when we should be “falling back”?
After all, one could argue that cutting time could be more harmful than cutting budgets. There are enough advertising alternatives these days to create brand awareness and advocates; some of the most popular and most successful viral campaigns came from a good idea well executed for a very limited budget.
Let’s also make something else clear, time is money, sure, but money isn’t dictated by time. It’s what we do with that time that benefits us most. Big difference.
It must also be noted that sometimes the client dictates the time. And that too is unavoidable. But that’s why production departments are hypercritical to agency success.
Regardless, time is (literally) of the essence in creativity. Whether it’s an apple pie or a product launch—time should always be on your side, not against it.
In a recent scenario, we had a case study to wrap up. The project was delayed because photo assets were not coming in from the client. Taking matters into our own hands, we did our own photo shoot of the products. Once that was finished, Account Service asked us what a decent turnaround would be. Account Service threw out a two-day turnaround. Speaking with the designer, she felt more comfortable getting it out a half-day later than that. This was to ensure the photos were properly touched up. I shared our concerns and new deadline. It was agreed upon almost instantly. We had an internal deadline, understood the work involved and discussed it openly and honestly.
We kept time on our side and avoided a rushed result. It’s a win-win. Internal communications stay strong between the different departments of the agency and the client sees an idea fully baked from concept to delivery.
Take some time to think about the importance of time. Then stop looking at a wristwatch and start looking at a calendar.
Jason Gottshall is Senior Copywriter at AKHIA.