How does one speak “art director?” Or, Communication 101 with artsy types and agencies.

Do you need help advertising your business? Does the idea of hiring an agency or freelancer, and then communicating precisely what you need, make you anxious or frustrated? Start by addressing these five questions, and you’ll find the process goes much, much easier. On everyone!

  1. What is needed? Being clear from the beginning regarding what is needed will save both you and the agency loads of time. Is it a print ad, digital banner, website, e-blast, etc.? Beyond that general question, consider the following: What is the main idea you are trying to convey to your audience? Are you trying to push attendance to an event, advertise a product, or express a particular message? All these questions provide answers in terms of important information like dates, times, prices, or key ideas.

  1. Who is the target? Knowing the target audience is very important in creating effective advertising. Take, for instance, the example of addressing a 50+ year-old male audience: your agency or freelance artist would need to develop messaging and phrasing unique to that target. Contrast that to targeting your messaging to a female 18-25 year-old demographic. Do they speak the same language as your male audience? Not likely. Make it your goal to create an ad that speaks to each audience in the same voice and tone they use and understand.

  1. Where is your ad going? On what type of platform will the advertising be presented? Advertising in printed media utilizes messaging different from that presented on a digital platform. Arriving at a decision on where you want your advertising placed is something an advertising agency can help you with. Most agencies have media-buying specialists who have a vast amount of knowledge regarding where your advertising will work best.

  1. When is the deadline? Agencies have to deal with all sorts of deadlines, ranging from long-term projects to fast-turnaround rushes. The time frame affects how an agency or individual graphic artist approaches a project, whether it is all hands on deck or something the agency can spend some time on, creating multiple concepts that are well polished, and overachieve for the client. It is important to allow appropriate time for an agency to create effective advertising. Every project is different, which means each timeline is somewhat customized, depending on certain variables such as those mentioned above. So, when starting a project with an agency, it is always a good idea to have an open dialogue with your agency’s representative or freelancer to arrive at an appropriate deadline for each project.

  1. Do you have any creative inspiration? Something that expresses your sensibilities for design and copy? Client ideas are appreciated and accepted. However, it is good to think of your ideas as a jumping-off point. Agency art departments are made up of very creative people, who enjoy the challenge of creating great advertising out of bare-bones information.

In closing, advertising agencies are made up of talented individuals, but they’re often only as good as the information they receive. The same is true when your relationship is with an individual artist. With the right guideposts and expectations, you’re well on your way to creating great advertising and, in turn, furthering the success of your business.

by John Melton


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