Team in place. Location locked. Production book delivered. All systems are go for next week’s shoot and you’re ready to slay it when you get the call. The client has just learned that their budget won’t cover live action after all. Suddenly, you’re doing more bobbing and weaving than a heavyweight boxer as you adjust your plan of attack in the 11th hour.

In another scenario, you’re putting together an epic anthem-like spot featuring pop music, which is the crux of the campaign, when you get word that your client won’t be able to license the music track after all. How do you salvage a project that relied so heavily on a particular element?

As creatives, most of us will – at some point in our careers – encounter an “about face” scenario where a client must abruptly change a project’s direction … whether due to an unexpected budget reduction, accelerated delivery date, music-licensing snafu, or late-breaking executive feedback.

So how does one master the art of the creative pivot when faced with sudden changes? In my experience, it all comes down to these four steps:

While the 11th-hour direction change may not be on your top-five list of things you love about your job, mastering the art of the creative pivot certainly has its benefits. Not only will your clients come to trust in your ability to take on and successfully manage any bumps in the road, but they will also experience your full creative range. In the end, it’s about making your clients happy, helping to foster a smooth experience and delivering it all at the highest quality, regardless of those unexpected changes you may face along the way.

  • Get the Inside Scoop – Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your clients up front that clue you into their internal processes. Where there are multiple layers of approvals, there is also a greater potential for changes. Having a better understanding of these nuances will help your team anticipate any potential challenges along the way.
  • Always Have a Back-Up Plan – Whether it be exploring different music options or simply envisioning your live-action concept done with graphics and clips instead, a little bit of “just in case” prep can save a lot of stress in the end, whether the change was due to time constraints, licensing, money or someone at the top with a totally different vision.
  • Be Ready to Roll with the Punches – Again, it’s the bob and weave that will get you through. Don’t be paralyzed by fear when something like this happens, as time is not on your side so you need to utilize what time you have to think clearly and quickly.
  • Don’t be a Cling-On - Creatives often fall in love with their own creative, so when a client asks you to switch direction, make sure you’re open to it. Be willing to let go of that proverbial first crush and, instead, partner with each other to come up with a solution that works for everyone.

  • Marni Wagner is creative director for Miami-based 2C Creative.

    Tags: 2c creative guest post

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