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Creative Presentations: Quantity vs. Quality
By: Tom Roarty
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You can learn a lot as a creative freelancer. The work can be as diverse as the daily operations of the clients you are contracting for. It is those little differences between companies that open up the discussion about which methods of creative flow are effective and which are not.
Recently I have had the opportunity to work with a client whom I cannot get enough of. My direct report is a creative who believes that design is as important as the money that it generates. There are no cut corners, and what is expected is top-quality work over quantity of concepts. This is very different from what I have experienced in recent months, where the goal was to blitz the client with a large amount of designs and hope some would stick, but which is a better approach?
Well, my earlier clients as mentioned would argue that quantity offers the client the ability to choose from a large pool of comps, covering all of their possible needs. How big is the “creative pool” that I mention? Approximately 30 designs per designer, multiplied by four designers. Does this mean that we would submit 120 designs per client? No, that would be crazy! We would submit between 40 and 60 of those ideas. Which seems like a crazy amount when considering how difficult it is to get face time with decision makers, who usually make a lot more decisions than just creative ones on a daily basis.
On the other hand, my recent employer believes in quality, a system I, too, am far more comfortable with. One designer per project, six designs per round. Is six designs enough to present, considering some agencies are submitting ten times that amount?
The short answer is yes. What this method does is force the creative to do something all creatives should do: Listen, take notes on the small details of a job, and ask the questions that are gong to make those six designs exactly what the client wants. Preparing better in meetings helps set up a quicker execution in the development phase, pretty much every time.
By supplying a client with upward of 30 creative options for their needs, you tend to cause more confusion. Maybe the client had a direction in mind that was executed to their specifications perfectly, but now there are five additional options making them second-guess their decision. Not that this is a bad thing from a creative perspective, but this will now become a time hindrance as you are now asked to create additional ideas for people who, as mentioned above, usually don’t have time, and will almost always tend to go back to their first decision.
Also, what a large presentation does is it takes most of the pressure off the account directors and puts it on the creative staff. If you have a day to put a presentation together, it makes a lot more sense to generate six fantastic designs based on what the client requested as opposed to 30 in the same amount of time because you are held to a quantity quota. At the end of the day both agencies are successful at what they do regardless of the methods of how they got there. The difference is in the employees of those agencies and which one produces the work they are more proud of.

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