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We Landed a Medtech Account—Now What? 3 Understandings

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Bollixed and castrated and then we begin

Advertising agencies and marketing firms are eager to land medical device accounts. These prestigious accounts are much desired and would seem to enlarge the status of an agency because of the exacting, rigorous work that helps the human condition. It doesn’t hurt that they seem to pay on time. But having worked with a number of ad agencies once they land such an account, there are a few common threads that surprise principals and employees:

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  • You’ll need experts: people who know how to work within a regulatory framework (“Claim this.” “Never claim that.”). People who know the words that soothe lawyers while still making sense to humans. And especially people who know their sinus node rhythm from their rhythm method. You will stay on message and every claim must be neatly tied to an article from a respected (first or second-tier) journal.
  • Your creatives are (already) wringing their hands. That’s because creative solutions lie on the other side of a legal/regulatory/corporate culture grinder.
    • Yes: the company has come to you for creative solutions.
    • No: they cannot/will not back-off their own internal legal/regulatory controls. Their own internal machinery will bind and castrate many of those solutions you have used in the past. What a great beginning point!
  • There will be rounds of changes. Many rounds. Way more than you are used to. Far more than you can reasonably put in your bid. They will seem…unmanageable. Taming revisions will take your best customer service manners and may take you deep into the internal relationship structure of the firm. But that is exactly the kind of partnering that is needed

If your agency can come to grips with these three understandings without imploding or driving sane people mad, you’ll begin to build a reservoir of expertise.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Two Words Cost Me Dearly

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My Splendid Sabotage

Please know:

First: I wrote the words 40-some hours into a 51 hour project spread across a week and a half.

Second: I was desperate to capture the zeitgeist bouncing between client and agency principals.

As I wrote these two words I immediately moved to delete them. But something stopped me. Was it reckless whim? Had I given up? Why oh why did I pause over “Delete”? My self-editor should have been there, sitting beside me. He was still locked in the self-editor-dungeon where he has a cot and a Folgers can to pee in. He doesn’t get out much when I’m creating.

“Flabby Paths”

Oh, sure. They seem innocuous—even forgettable. But as a subhead for a component of this project, they were the stalled car on the track that derailed the train pulling boxcars of produce that needed to get through right now. Or: These words distracted the creative team and hurried them down a path and off a cliff.

So, my bad. Personal penalty: pulling my invoice and attacking it with scissors and fresh resolutions. It’s a matter of integrity. It’s also a matter of retaining relationships.

Floated or Finished?

It’s never just the words, of course. It’s the trust built between creatives as a project moves forward. With some team members you are free to say the really stupid stuff and let it sit for a moment between you, even as you all know some better idea is moving up an esophagus about to be uttered. But with other teams, and especially in hurry-up mode, words appearing on paper carry more weight: not of an idea floated but an idea finished. At this point in the project, my self-editor needed to be there with his “HIT DELETE” stamp poised. Because time was flying and next steps need to step up solidly.

My point? Conversations are never formulas that work in every case. And: while creating, the self-editor needs to dwell in the dungeon, but words making their way out in public need to meet his approval. Let him out sometimes.

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Written by kirkistan

January 25, 2011 at 8:55 am

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