4 Red Flags of a Failing Campaign
Campaigns pay the bills, so you can't afford to be flying red flags for too long.
Does your team have a hard time getting projects smoothly across the finish line? Does it feel like deadlines keep getting pushed back again and again?
To tackle your problems, you need to isolate them first and figure out their source. Here are the most common red flags that a campaign might be going a little off the rails.
You struggle to remember what you last talked about with the client.
Do you often find yourself saying “Wait, I have a meeting with that guy again already? What for?” The meeting might not be for anything in particular, as the client might just want to catch up on the campaign. But if they’re doing it too often, it’s typically the sign of a problem.
It’s hard to give individualized attention to every single client, but if you find yourself constantly trying to remember why you’re having a meeting, then for one reason or another you’re having too many meetings.
When a client blows up your calendar or asks early on for weekly or even biweekly meetings, it’s because they don’t have complete faith in you. Now, this might not be your fault — but it also might be! What could you be doing that’s making them feel insecure or like they need to be a helicopter client? Are you promising deadlines that your team is missing? Are deliverables coming back with a round after round of edits?
Take the time to figure out why a client feels the need to constantly be briefed on the campaign and fill in the cracks in their campaign swiftly and all at once. Cracks only grow the longer you leave them unattended.
Ideas are generated but never acted on.
You can’t hand-hold your team's way through projects (nor should you have to), but for your own peace of mind, keep a tab of every idea that gets approved by the client and check to see if it’s been set in motion within 24 hours.
Everyone loves ideation, but initiative is sometimes a problem when it comes to getting things out of the idea phase. You want to show your client that you’re a proactive, forward-thinking agency. Letting things hang, especially ideas they were excited about, isn’t a good look.
My advice is to assign action items right after hopping off a call with a client. Round up your essential team, hammer out what tasks need to be done in what order and task each member with something to get moving on by the end of the next day.
Projects and deliverables are left hanging.
“I thought she was handling it?”
“Well, I thought you were handling it!”
“I’ve been waiting on so and so to give me such and such for two weeks — should I send them an email?”
These are things you never want to hear from your team. If you are, it means that a project is going to be seriously late — and possibly hasn’t even been started.
You can only tell your client that “things are going well” so many times before they’re going to want to see what you're working on. If projects and deliverables are constantly in a state of flux and only cross the finish line a week after they were supposed to, correct the course with your team immediately.
About once a year I realize that my team is getting a little charitable with deadlines. I set it straight with a Come To Jesus meeting where I make it clear that I’d like everything to be able to run without tasking every single action out in Basecamp, but unfortunately things have gotten too lax and I need to regain control.
And if I don’t see things shaping up there will be consequences. Cue thunder and lighting.
Speaking from personal experience, a little fear works really well as a tactic for making sure that people snap back into being the best employees they can be.
“This client is so much work!”
Nine out of ten times, this isn’t true. It’s not that the client is too much work, it’s that your employee is overworking the account and is unable to see the forest for the trees. They’re fixated on a myriad of small tasks that aren’t essential to the completion of a project and are fumbling the ball on the easily achievable goals that could actually make a difference.
If your employees are complaining about a client being too much of a load, sit with them and find out how they are prioritizing their tasks. Ten out of ten times they turn out to be extremely productive and efficient when they have me evaluating their work process over their shoulder.
Remember, disorganization spills over into every part of the house sooner or later. If one part of your process has glaring flaws, it’s probably not isolated to that specific area.
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