How amazing clients get the most from a creative agency
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How amazing clients get the most from a creative agency

Jon BrodyJon Brody

July 15, 2021

The question of what makes an amazing client vs. a bad client comes up a lot during Ladder sales. When businesses ask that question, what they’re actually saying is “how can we be confident that if we invest our resources in you, it will yield incredible results?” They want to make sure they get the most out of their investment. 

From the Ladder side, it all comes down to how much agency we have when it comes to the creative. One point around this has to do with growth theory, which is universally applicable to all companies and scenarios. The other point comes down to Ladder’s ethos as a brand.

The importance of testing data-driven creative 

Ladder is structured around data-driven creative. We solve the problem even companies with big creative teams have, which is not being able to build and launch smart creative at scale that collaborates efficiently and predictably with their performance marketing team to create an engine of continuous creative testing.

The key to achieving this is unification. Rather than having a performance marketing team and a creative team in a separate department, Ladder’s creative marketing strategy team, creative production team, creative planning team and paid media teams all work from the ground up in a completely unified way to create this cycle:

  • Build test creative that can get launched and executed as quickly as possible
  • Continuously learn from tests that get launched
  • Feed that back into the creative engine to create smarter content each month
  • Use that data to inform smarter testing and allocation

The result is de-risked content that is more likely to work, drive resonance with target segments, and ultimately uplift the performance of your marketing strategy.

Why test-driven marketing works for amazing clients

To be able to do all that testing, we look for clients who believe in it, and give us the ownership to be creative and not stay in a box. 

Theoretically, your testing strategy should allocate a very appropriate amount of minimally viable budget to each individual test, and the total budget across all the monthly tests should be appropriately sized up in relation to your control budgets that are going towards optimizing and maintaining the preexisting best-performing activity.

That allows you to be bold and ambitious, because even if a test doesn’t work from a performance point of view in the short term, the negative impact should be absolutely minimal.

Whether the number goes up or down, you’ll learn some valuable insights about your market, target users and brand value propositions. 

An amazing client will allow themselves and their organization to be increasingly bold and experimental, and get the most benefit out of test-driven marketing.

How to get the most from test-driven marketing 

From the growth theory point of view, disruption doesn’t come from doing the same things over and over, or from tweaking them by a bit. 

It comes from doing things that are most likely not going to work, but when they do, you get a really big uplift. 

This is how that plays out with Ladder in practice:

  1. We’re allowed to be ambitious with the creative we build.
  2. We’re allowed to maximize speed in order to get more learnings quicker and feed the creative engine continuously, which allows you to be smarter with the next step.
  3. The client allows themselves to get out of their comfort zone - at least one test in the monthly portfolio should feel… uncomfortable.

Using data to inform smarter thinking and get faster feedback loops gets our clients that much closer to the disruption that causes a breakthrough and helps find new best performers. 

Once that happens, we can move it into the more stable, predictable engine of maintenance, optimization and scale.

Dealing with bad clients - coach, don’t reproach

On paper, the market wants the boldness that Ladder provides. I’ve never encountered a business that didn’t like the sound of it. However in reality, internally and with clients, the natural tendency is not to do bold, great work. So the biggest thing for us becomes evangelizing those values to the reluctant clients by coaching them.

If the client says they are not sure something is going to work because it’s too different, and they want to iterate, that is the wrong conversation. What they are really saying is they don’t believe in Ladder’s growth theory and methodology. 

The secret of what Ladder provides is in the simplicity - which requires tremendous skill to enforce and consistently coach - of recognizing that issue and then communicating it. The client can then come around and realize they are hurting themselves, and give us the scope and free range we need to fight the tendency towards sameness.

Using test-driven marketing to stand out and break through the sameness

Test-driven marketing’s reason for launching constant creative and, well, existing, is to combat sameness. Sameness is your greatest foe because it is constantly increasing, due to it becoming cheaper and cheaper for companies to start, and for product cycles to replicate features that were once unique. 

In turn, there are more and more self-serving advertising platforms for all these companies that are looking increasingly the same from a feature point of view, which make it difficult for the customers you want to actually stop scrolling, engage with your brand, and take positive action.

In the world of marketing where breaking through and being bold is increasingly important, a test-driven creative engine rewards boldness by allowing you to win even if it didn’t necessarily “work.” 

From the growth theory point of view, your biggest concern as a marketing leader should not be that a certain campaign might not work, but that you’re not being experimental and bold enough. That’s what should be keeping you up at night.

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