CommonSense Blog

The 12 things it takes more than the 12 Days before Christmas to learn

By Adeline Li | Dec 20, 2013

As we countdown the remaining days before Christmas, the London team paused to reflect on what we collectively learned from our clients and each other in 2013. It was an exciting year with a lot of new faces, talent and opportunities to challenge ourselves with engaging projects and dynamic clients.

So building on the now world famous and often co-opted 12 Days of Christmas carol* (originally from England, mind you!), we are pleased to share with you “The 12 things it takes more than the 12 Days before Christmas to learn” by the W2O London Team.

12 Reviewers Reviewing
On a day-to-day basis, we typically liaise with a small handful of people on the client-side, but once you hit send/submit on those materials you’ve been working on for months, remember there are always more people than you realize reviewing and assessing our work. Think about all audiences when sharing deliverables and go the extra mile to enable the document to help brand us with internally stakeholders: ensure it is visually compelling to establish WOW-factor, include a short briefing document/ coversheet to showcase all the thought and strategy behind your work… and no typos!

11th Hour Requests
Admittedly not unique to clients on this side of the pond, last minute requests are part of our work lives. While our hustle and responsiveness is (typically) appreciated by clients, remember it is okay to pause for a second and, if appropriate, push back to provide a more strategic alternative.

10 “Starter Points”
We Brits know the catchphrase “starter for ten”. Like in University Challenge (think: Jeopardy for the college-aged crowd), getting the “right answer” from the start (get it?!) can unlock the door to “bonus point” opportunities. But often clients don’t know the “right answer”, so how do we get these “bonus points”? By ensuring we are thinking a step ahead of the client as to what is next… if you like this proposal, you are going to love this idea…

9 Time Zone Span
As we continue to expand our global reach (working across 9 time zones!), it’s in our best interest to use our 24-hour time span to our advantage. Done effectively, we can pass the baton from one time zone to the next and in the end, win the race! But remember, ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ – let’s not let one geographic location work around the clock and sacrifice their wine-o-clock.

8-Hour Days of Referencing
A full day committed to sourcing, inserting, ordering and highlighting references – it’s a rite of passage for anyone working in healthcare. But what does not kill us, makes us stronger and even the most tedious tasks need to be done with flawless execution because the impact on the larger project is significant and all eyes are watching (i.e. the 12 Reviewers Reviewing!).

7 Days a Week
There is a reason why the famous Dolly Parton song ‘9 to 5’ today feels a bit dated and it isn’t her perm. With many congresses happening over weekends and busy clients who travel globally, ‘9 to 5’ is not the reality. A value add we can bring is in simplifying our clients’ lives. Keep presenting ideas that will help your client work and look smarter and always consider how you can present your information in a “mobile-friendly” fashion… chances are they are reading your recommendations on their smart phone while downloading their next airline boarding pass.

6 Team Members
The key to a successful integrated account is to actively involve our 6 ‘functions’: CRL, PMO, CCX, Engagement, Digital, Analytics. True integration can be as difficult as dating, but by establishing clear roles, responsibilities and expectations from the onset, you’re well on your way to a happily integrated relationship.

5 Rounds of Zinc (or whatever fun review system your client uses)
If we’re being honest, 5 is probably on the low side of the average number of rounds of review most materials go through before final approval. It’s not always easy to send those nagging emails to the client to provide feedback/sign-off, but persistence pays off and it never hurts to ‘manage-up’ to remind clients we are on top of everything.

4 Brands a Time
Time is not always on the side of country colleagues/affiliates who often work on as many as 4 brands at a time. So if you’re working for a global client, remember to create materials that can be easily repurposed for local market use. Keep it simple, clear, translatable and adaptable.

3 Ideas Max
A magic number to keep in mind. When presenting creative ideas and concepts, it is ideal to keep it to a maximum of three – too much choice often confuses clients, but too little choice does not give enough range for the client who isn’t quite sure what they want. More importantly, make it count. Provide 3 ideas that clearly demonstrate you understand their business objectives.

2 Words: “I’m Sorry”
At the risk of sounding like your mother, be willing to admit when you are wrong and acknowledge how your mistake may have had an impact on the client. It is important in order to build a trusting relationship. True client partner requires a mutual respect for honesty and transparency.

And it’s Friday so they’re going home at three (♫ ♫ ♫)
Americans may roll their eyes when Europeans start ducking out on Fridays (and for those amazingly long and frequent holidays in general), but we need to appreciate and respect the culturally relevant differences in our working styles… whether they are corporate vs. agency or European vs. American. Take the time in 2014 to recognize and appreciate that the diverse, unique and dynamic backgrounds of both our clients and colleagues at it is truly what makes us sparkle! ☺

Happy holidays from the W2O London team!