I would like to work in a business that appreciates thinking. Where thinking is paid for, where thinking is needed. Strategic and innovative thinking. Thinking that leads to better results. I would like Polish content marketing to be a market on which thinking is valued. But this is only a dream so far, a dream about a perfect world – and perfect often means unreal.
In Poland thinking is usually for free. We live in a country that prays for the renovating team to come on time and do their job. We may not like it, we can think it’s too much, but we’ll pay for the job that’s been done. But when it comes to paying for a concept, we’re stunned. We’re surprised someone wants us to pay him for his thinking. We’re unable to understand that a custom company refuses to take part in a best design competition. Why! What happened? Has anything changed?
Today, it would be difficult to decide what was first: did agencies searching for a contract agree to work for free for the sake of possibly winning a job, or did customers decide this should work like that? The fact is, today many companies no longer are so eager to share their knowledge so that somebody else could show off with it in front of their boss. In Polish content marketing practices and behaviours characteristic for immature markets are every-day reality. Despite many discussions there is still someone who will cast a fishing rod, and someone who’ll get caught. Can a market that has an unwritten rule that “thinking costs nothing” see good projects? Can a graphic layout and editorial concept be made in three days? Can experienced, creative people clashed with only a brief create a valuable concept? One that would evoke enthusiasm among recipients and bring the expected business results? I would like to say it is impossible. But in Poland, the country of people with great trust in success, this sometimes happens. Many times Polish content agencies have proven they can read minds.
The truth is, however, this is usually the outcome of luck, a coincidence, and not a rule or the effect of true and tried mechanisms. In our reality the worst situation is when a content agency and its customer are both inside a closed circle: the customer pays little (at first the agency does its best, hoping for a change, but with time it turns out there is less and less money), the results are deteriorating. The agency is counting money, trying to make the project cost-effective, has no time or energy to propose innovative solutions for free. The project is weaker and weaker. Both parties can see nothing will come out of that cooperation. The circle is closed. Because what counts in the end, is always the effect. Sometimes there lacks a new beginning and an answer to the question: why did it go like that?
The customer–agency relation is a little bit like marriage – there are always two people to blame. You can of course change the agency for another one, but the same problems may appear. It is more difficult – but I highly recommend this path – to step aside from the beaten track and avoid making the same mistakes.
Partner choice principles:
1. Determine in details what you need and what you expect from the project.
If you’re not sure how to set your goals, invite wise people to help you. If you get a well-formulated offer for a content agency, it has been worth to pay for.
2. Before you send your offer, talk to agencies whose work you like or that have good opinion. Invite three agencies to take part in a tender, asking them in advance to send their prize without creative work.
3. When you know you have enough money to finance your undertaking, start the creative work. Remember, the better the creative team understand your business the greater the chance for a mutual success.
The text appeared in the magazine Content Marketing Polska 2013.