The Ex-Agency Files: Details Matter More These Days


Sometimes I miss my creative agency background—The life-sized promotional samples in the hallway, drama queen creatives brilliantly bringing a nebulous idea to life, 10 a.m. bloody marys, trendy fashions pulled off without effort. And while there were many detail freaks, the details just didn’t matter as much once the projects were executed.


But in my world since, details are absolutely everything. Forget one digit? Everything you did is wrong. Miss one line of code? Everything you did is wrong. Fail to apply one learned principle? Everything you did is wrong. Do it all over again.


That’s actually what I like most about this “side of the tracks.” There are right and wrong answers. At a creative agency, there may be endless debate over the best word to use in a claim. But most of this is subjective—at the end of the day you probably won’t sell more toothpaste with a certain choice. Our analytic intelligence provides the insights that drive these plans to begin with. If we are wrong, then everything is. We have so much more riding on what we’re serving up to our clients.


But we can validate. We can audit our work to make sure everything is in place. And when we know we don’t have all the pieces to ensure 100% accuracy—at least we know. For instance, let’s talk about when data is used to estimate the value of a customer. When one little number is off, a group can be greatly underestimated. If we know that a certain type or segment of customer is more likely to spend more money, that knowledge can lead to incremental millions. Calculations are off by just a few dollars can leave extra money on the table, or worse—turn customers away with offers out of reach. Before putting these numbers into action, they have to be right. Exactly right.


That’s a lot of pressure! But Anthem’s analysts are so diligent, they challenge each other, fact check, and nothing goes into action with being triple checked. While creative agencies might obsess about an exact shade of fuchsia, obsessing about our insights actually drive real strategy. We are the behind-the-scenes quiet but crucial influencers with none of the glamour—the George Harrisons, Eleanor Roosevelts, and Tim Rices. And we like it that way.


Posted by Carolyn Wright on 11/05