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Creative Series: Angie Fischer, Lightborne Communications: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | Apr 30, 2024

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

In this episode, we continue our Creative Series with Angie Fischer. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

  • Episode Summary & Player
  • Show Notes
  • Marketing Smarts Summary
  • Transcript

Marketing Smarts: Creative Series: Angie Fischer

In this episode, we continue our Creative Series, focused on the issues facing creative agencies today and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. Our 4th special guest is Angie Fischer, COO of Lightborne Communications. They’re a full-service motion design, animation, editorial, and video production team that has been creating award-winning content for over 3 decades. Hear why it’s such a challenging time for agencies, how to show your value as an agency, how quality content is assessed these days, how to mitigate concerns with clients, and what makes a great creative brief. This episode covers everything from production work to client relations. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How do you approach project-based work?
  • Will AI take away jobs?
  • What is considered good content?
  • How do you mitigate concerns with clients?
  • Will we ever lose the need for the art?
  • How do you survive as an agency today?
  • What makes a good creative brief?
  • Quick-Fire: Lake or Ocean?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

  • Creative Series: Angie Fischer
    • [0:42] Welcome to Marketing Smarts
    • [0:44] Anne Candido, April Martini
    • [1:08] Connect with Angie at and on LinkedIn
    • [3:00] What is her background?
    • [3:44] Silicon Valley
    • [5:58] Mad Men
    • [6:10] How has the agency world changed over the years?
    • [6:47] Retainer
    • [8:01] How do you approach project-based work?
    • [9:22] Meta
    • [10:31] Will AI (Artificial Intelligence) take away jobs?
    • [11:16] VO (Voiceover)
    • [12:02] OpenAI Sora
    • [13:44] iPhone
    • [14:38] What is considered good content?
    • [15:12] P&G (Procter & Gamble)
    • [16:32] How do you mitigate concerns with clients?
    • [19:12] Google, Sphere
    • [19:48] Will we ever lose the need for the art?
    • [21:16] CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods), Universal Studios
    • [22:48] How do you survive as an agency today?
    • [25:58] Why is branding so important for B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-Consumer)?
    • [30:01] COVID-19
    • [30:20] We’d like to invite you to join ForthRight Women: The Cohort. This community is for females who are ambitious in their careers, but want an equally fulfilling personal life. For more information and to join the group, check out
    • [31:35] PR (Public Relations)
    • [32:44] Tide Super Bowl Brief
    • [33:04] What makes a good Creative Brief?
    • [41:58] Influencers
    • [42:50] Change Order
    • [44:50] Why is it a challenging time for agencies?
    • [45:08] Zoom
    • [47:48] R&D (Research & Development)
    • [50:51] LinkedIn
    • [52:23] Introvert
    • [52:55] Press Release, Disney
    • Quick-Fire Questions
    • [55:28] Lake or Ocean?
    • [55:52] If Angie could do 1 job outside of marketing, what would it be?
    • [56:19] What’s her favorite beverage on a hot day?
    • [56:44] Connect with Angie at and on LinkedIn
    • [57:55] Make sure to follow Marketing Smarts on your favorite podcast spot and leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts
    • [58:02] Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
    • [58:07] Sign up to view all the ForthRight worksheets & tips for FREE!
    • [58:14] Shop our Virtual Consultancy

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Angie Fischer 0:00
You want to please your clients you want to always be doing whatever opportunities they bring to you. But I do think it is so critical for every company to focus on really what it is they do best. What can they do uniquely? Well.

Anne Candido 0:14
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you missed anything, don’t worry, we put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now let’s get to it. Welcome to Marketing Smarts!

I am Anne Candido,

April Martini 0:44
And I am April martini, and today we’re continuing our marketing smarts mini series all around the topic of the issues facing creative agencies today, and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. This series brings together folks from both agency and corporate that all have different POVs around this topic, but are all experienced practitioners and thought leaders with decades of experience. Today we welcome special guest Angie Fischer, CEO at Lightborne Communications and agency veteran across the board having made her career with stints at gyro curiosity, North lick and a few that are no longer HSR and bridge worldwide. With over two decades of experience in the industry space Angie brings vast experiences to this conversation. And in this episode, specifically, we cover themes such as agencies needing to provide clarity to their clients on what they do and do well, versus trying to cover the board and do everything. The changing landscape from retainer relationships to more project based initiatives that always come with the expectation of value add beyond the scope. In addition, staying focused on our value as agencies from the internal standpoint and versus chasing things on our ends and getting distracted with what we don’t do well, we took a detour into the world of creative briefs and how to tackle them, so all parties are bought into them. And we also talked AI as a tool to make teams faster, versus the ability to ever truly replace people. And finally, my personal favorite, the importance of strategy in all things. Angie, it’s so good to have you. Please introduce yourself, and welcome to the show.

Angie Fischer 2:18
Thank you. I’m so excited to be here talking with you ladies. I’m Angie Fischer, I’m the Chief Operating Officer of Lightborne. Communications headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.

April Martini 2:29
Awesome. All right. And with that, we will get into the issues facing creative agencies today, and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. So Angie, the first thing that we’re discussing with all of our guests in this series is kind of setting the stage for what your perspective will be. So we have call it 10, I think at this point guests that are going to be part of this series. And the idea is to sort of stitch together the different perspectives. So we can talk about this conversation from all different angles. So if you could just start out by giving kind of your creative history in the industry, I know you’ve been at many, many agencies, that’s where we met was at curiosity advertising. So take us through your journey over the years to getting to lightsworn

Angie Fischer 3:10
Sure, I’ll probably give you a little bit of a narrowed down version, because otherwise we could be here for hours. But you’re right, I’ve worked at lots of different agencies. But really, I got my start just in marketing, at the height of the internet boom in the late 90s. So when I graduated from college, the Internet was brand new, and it was kind of the thing to do to move to Silicon Valley and work for a startup. And so I did I moved to San Francisco, I was one of two marketing people at at a software company. And that’s really kind of how I cut my teeth and just even got into this industry to begin with. It was one other recent college graduate and I you know, creating all of the brochures on the website, which was brand new, going to trade shows all over demoing software. And that’s kind of what initially got me even interested in this field to begin with. I’ll fast forward a little bit, I took a little bit of a detour, went to culinary school in San Francisco, ended up back in Cincinnati. And then when I really decided I needed to be an adult and get a full time job, paid a living wage, I got back into marketing. So that’s when I really entered the agency world and and got my first job at a b2b focused agency in Cincinnati that was at the time called HSR business to business and I started as the very lowest level account manager that you could possibly be. But I just I took to the agency world I loved the energy, working with different clients just getting thrown into lots of different things, TV spots, radio, sales, collateral, all those different things. I just I loved that world and ended up staying at that agency for quite a while and in the years that have progressed since then. Yes, I’ve worked for many different Both b2b and b2c agencies in Cincinnati and in Chicago. And that has led me to now work for Lightboard, which is a really a video production and motion graphics studio. So still, you know, not really in the creative agency, as far as working so directly with clients, but more on the production side of things. So now agencies are often my clients, as opposed to when I was working more with with companies. So it’s a little bit of a different spin on things, but still related very much to what I’ve been doing for the last 2025 years. So

April Martini 5:37
very, very qualified to discuss this topic with us today. And as you know, and you know, we’ve talked offline, I’ve been talking a lot to folks about this. And that’s kind of how this series came to be is that agencies have changed so very much over the years. And we’ve talked about like, the origin of the Mad Men days, fast forward to where we are, but I think some interesting things are happening just within the past few years, handful of years, call it. And so we would love your perspective on how you think things have changed from where they were and what you noticed most significantly, whether it’s day to day, or just like, oh, my gosh, I think back to five years ago, we didn’t have this and now we have this and it looks different. So

Angie Fischer 6:21
yeah, I mean, admittedly, it is, it is a very challenging time for agencies, creative agencies, you guys hit the nail on your head in your initial podcast about this topic. One thing that I see a huge difference from April, like when you and I were curiosity is just there are fewer and fewer retainer accounts. Right. Yeah, that was one thing that we had a curiosity that was just so formed the base of our business, and that we knew we had those solid relationships. And usually your long if not multi year long agreements with people, I know that they do sometimes exist for certain agencies, but I just see fewer and fewer of those relationships overall, it is it just seems to have turned into a very project based world, which for any agency, or production company, or even the motion graphics projects we do, it’s like we’re fighting for every project is hard. It just it makes you have to be really competitive. There’s just no easy win anymore, right? And it just, it’s the hard way to go. It’s a hard way to build a business, I would say, you know, another one of the challenges that you guys hit on is that we’re just always being asked to do more for less, right, nobody’s budgets are getting any bigger. You hit on this, particularly in the video production or TV world, people don’t have half a million dollars to spend on production anymore for one TV spots. But we’re just constantly being asked to do a whole lot more for budgets that are getting smaller and smaller. Those are two huge challenges. I see.

Anne Candido 7:52
So Angie, how’s that changing the way that you guys approach the work? Both of them are? Imagine if it’s more project oriented, and then the budgets are leaner? I mean, they’re kind of almost like counterproductive. There’s some extent where you’re expected to, like more be more project oriented, but then, you know, if lean and mean, budgets are kind of like the thing, how are you rectifying these? And how are you guys then approaching the work?

Angie Fischer 8:21
I think showing our value is just becoming so much more important. So again, with production budgets, in particular, I think there used to just be sort of a big number. And if you could meet that number, then all right, you got the work, I think people are scrutinizing those budgets, and there’s just an increased focus on having to be much more transparent about every little cost and making sure that it is really valuable to the ultimate end deliverable. And I would imagine all agencies are facing that you don’t just get these big piles of money anymore, you’ve really got to be transparent about where the money is being spent. And then I think it’s showing that you are doing more for those dollars, right. So if you do get the client who agrees to a fairly large kind of production, what we’re seeing is then we need to also add on 98, social deliverables at all different aspect ratios for all of the different metal platforms, we need five second cut downs, we need six second bumpers, we need all of these different deliverables that then all kind of have to be wrapped into that to show the value of taking on a project like that.

April Martini 9:32
Yeah, I think the streamlining budget conversation is so interesting. And one of the things that Anna and I have been experiencing and talking about is that we have to show value, right? Interestingly, one of the trends we have is that people are willing to pay for strategy. Now. It’s a hard sell in we have to build the relationship. We have to spend a lot of times because we live more in that b2b service based space predominantly. We have to take them through the roof. Since Why, yes, that seems to be something that’s more palatable to people recently, whereas I know years of my career where it was like strategy was the first to go the minute that the budgets got cut, right. So it’s nice. It’s really nice, selfishly, for us for sure. But on the other side of that, we’re also seeing more of the creative dollars being cut. And so those budgets are getting leaner. And part of what I’ve been asking people and talking about, and I know this is kind of part of your world, too, is, what is the role of things like AI? And can those take jobs? And are they taking jobs? Are they short cutting things? You know, how does that piece of the world look?

Angie Fischer 10:40
Yeah, absolutely. That’s actually one way one tool that we’re using to just make ourselves more efficient. So I know that a lot of the talk in our industry right now is about how AI can take jobs, and it’s being portrayed as a really negative thing. I’m kind of seeing the opposite in our world, I’m seeing ways to get to concepts more quickly, right? I’m seeing ways to do scratch tracks of vO using AI generated, I just feed in a script, and it can give me a scratch track in mere moments instead of me if this isn’t for a final product, right? I’m using these tools as part of a set of ways to make our process more efficient, so that I can be more responsible with the dollars. Right now, I am not seeing a huge threat of AI to our business in particular. But I realized that I am operating in a world where we’re doing fairly sophisticated 3d animation where AI tools have not matured to a place where they can really replace the jobs that we have on staff or really higher end video production. But I know these things are out there, right, I know that open AI announced their video creation tool last week, it’s Sora. It’s not available yet, but it will be by the end of this year. I think that if I were producing maybe lower end videos that had to be done really quickly, I would be pretty concerned right now that that was going to take some of my business and, and really replace some jobs, I think that would be a pretty scary place to be. But I think that’s one reason we have chosen to focus a little bit more, and try and get more of these higher end more involved things and projects and work with clients that really value that creative so that those kinds of things aren’t threats to us so that I can use AI for some of the power that it does offer and some of that streamlining.

Anne Candido 12:42
Yeah, it’s so interesting, because, you know, AI is a product of human collaborative fitness. Right? So it’s, it’s comes from somewhere. It’s not just like, you know, emerging thin air right, to some extent. And when I think about AI, and I think about how it’s working, or why people like it this, I think what is still the big question mark is what is considered good, right. So I think that work is really viewed as a good or quality, I feel like that criteria has really started to blur. Where I mean, I come from the end days where you know, you’re you’re producing an ad, and it has to be top notch, top quality. I mean, actors have to be right on the the shooting is like 10 cameras, and it’s like a huge, big effort. We’re on the other end, now you have people who are shooting 32nd spots on their iPhone, and that’s good enough for them. So I think it’s a really interesting dilemma of what do you consider good quality? And is it still important in this day and age, where sometimes I’ll take it back to like, you know, the blade wars for the razor wards where it’s like, yeah, from one to three blades, you have a really big, you know, high like hockey stick. But once you get over three blades, it really starts flattening out. So, but it’s cost more still continues to cost a lot more money, and it takes a lot more effort to actually produce. So I guess my question is, and all of that is, what is good, like, how do people know that something’s good anymore? Is quality or like high quality? Is it as important as it used to be or not?

Angie Fischer 14:21
I think that’s so depends on the client and the business and who they are as a brand and what their standards are right. I definitely think there is a whole really wide swath of businesses out there that are going to say AI generated images that they can create in three seconds are good enough, especially when it comes to creating those for a social post on Facebook or Instagram. They’re gonna go with that all day long. They’re not going to see that value in putting forth the effort to shoot something original, whether that’s shot on an iPhone or a high end DSLR like they’re just not going to see that. So I do think It’s gonna narrow the clients that value good the way that you and your p&g days did, right. And I’m still seeing that from the P&Gs. And from other bigger corporations that I guess do just care a little bit more about how their brand is represented and have a higher bar of where good enough really is. I mean, I think luckily AI, you can still kind of tell when something is generated by there, you look closely and and there are things that just stick out as a little bit strangely out of aspect ratio, or just just stretched and that look pretty obviously AI generated. I’m sure that’ll keep improving. Now, I’m sure I’m sure we’ll get to a point where it keeps getting better and better and better. I don’t know, it’s gonna be interesting to see how this all plays out, I just I hope that there are clients that continue to see the value in original content creation, that that is really touched by hands and human people instead of just computers.

April Martini 16:01
So when you’re in these conversations, going back to the other side of your comment about having to not convince people, right, but like find the right clients that are going to appreciate it. And having those conversations, what what are you doing to kind of mitigate the situation, right? Like, because part of this we want to talk about is like, what’s the other side? I’m not sure we’re gonna get to all the answers with this series, right? A lot of this too, is bringing things to light and having discussions and working together to figure out solutions. But when you’re in those situations, where are you seeing wins are like, Oh, this is a good way to approach this from now on, or, you know, I think for this type of client, this is the way we need to be positioning. Yeah, appreciate what we do.

Angie Fischer 16:45
I guess the biggest thing and way I’m trying to show that value is again, to just show how what we do can be leveraged in lots of different ways to just show that it’s not a one off, right, that’s, that’s just such a limited way to look at things and it’s so hard to justify those dollars. And I always put myself in that marketing person’s shoes and say, Could I justify this budget to my stakeholders to my to the higher ups like if I don’t know that I could but but if I can really show that it has legs, that it that is more than just a one and done kind of tactic or approach that really does tie into the strategy that campaign the long term goals, then it does make more sense to invest more in creative in production, I think that’s the only way that we can justify that, that that effort, right? If the company just doesn’t see it, though, I think I’m getting better at kind of cutting losses and saying, okay, you know, I’m not going to chase this, if I don’t ultimately think it’s going to work out that we’re not going to be a good match for every single client out there. And I think that’s definitely been a tough learning for me over my career, I’m account manager, client service person, by nature, you want to please you want to find some solution that works. But I think I am to a place where I’m more quick to recognize when those aren’t opportunities, and when it’s time to move on to the next one. And there is a lot of work to go around a lot of clients and there are still those that value good creative and investing in that. And identifying those.

Anne Candido 18:25
Well, I think there’s so much to say too, about the art of it. All right. And that’s where I think you guys really shine is that it is a true art. And that takes people’s with a way of seeing things with the point of view with a lens that you can’t get from anywhere else. And it takes all those people coming together to realize the vision of something that’s bigger and grander than you know, something that you can just get on an iPhone. And I think that you know, the scale used to be an ad like a productive, you know, production like that’s the only way that you ever produced anything to now you know, kind of slid down to, you know, an iPhone capability capture a video that is actually doable in some circumstances. But the upper end is how now stretched to like when you look at things like this fear, and all of those really spectacular, like reimagined experiences, people are now also craving those. So it feels like there’s being stretched in two different ways. But I can’t imagine that at any context, that we would lose the need for the art because there is still that craving that desire, that immersive experience to continue to build what else is is going to look like right? I mean, it’s right on my office. No, I

Angie Fischer 19:52
think you’re totally right. And I am I mean I’m seeing that shift in our business very much every single day. I mean, I’m seeing a lot more opportunity for us in those larger, more immersive kinds of activities, whether it is for a brand or for an entertainment property. And that is really where I see the future of our business. It’s not in the 32nd spots, it’s not going to be in those those commercial productions. I just, I don’t think that’s really our path to growth and success. What I’m seeing is people wanting to almost invest even more, it’s things like the speaker exactly as you’re saying, or even creating, built out environments that then incorporate other storytelling opportunities. And then we can play a huge role in that if it’s something that is on a video screen or screen that has any shape or size are projected on projectors, right. I’m seeing a lot more investment and interest across the industry. And that kind of work. I know, again, that takes us a little bit outside of where we’ve been historically, as a company where we were much more ingrained with kind of the Procter and Gamble’s and the CPG companies of the world. And it, it takes us a little bit into a different realm of kind of like Universal Studios, and that that kind of themed entertainment world. But I also find that really exciting. And, you know, I think that presents a whole lot of really unique opportunities. It gives our company just some more niche experience that not everybody can do, which just makes it harder for competitors to to knock on our doorstep. So it takes us into a whole new world. Yeah, that I’m pretty excited about?

April Martini 21:38
Well, I think it is really interesting. You said a couple of things. One is the niche, right, and figuring out what that is. But I think the other thing you guys have done really well. It’s changed with the times. And you and I, you know, not just talking about Lightboard, specifically, right. But we’ve seen different iterations of agency, like we said at the beginning, and all the different places that you worked. And I think one of the challenges that I’m seeing is some of these bigger guys are either being gobbled up, but then really slimmed down is, yeah, yeah, or going away entirely, because they’re not finding ways to see what’s coming. And then adjust accordingly. And so I’d love if you can talk a little bit more about whether it’s broadly of your experience or Lightboard specific, but I do think that that is one of the keys as we’re trying to crack this puzzle or mystery or whatever of how I survive and how to keep moving. So I love your perspective there.

Angie Fischer 22:36
Yeah, I think you and I both worked for companies that sort of said they did everything, right. Yep. That that is a really tough way to go. And again, you want you want to please your clients, you want to always be doing whatever opportunities they bring to you. But I do think it is so critical for every company to focus on really what it is they do best, what can they do uniquely well, or they are just going to be gobbled up and then probably disbanded and they’re offering watered down right? You know, I think it’s it’s been interesting, there are so many new technologies, it can sometimes be difficult to choose, where do you want to go? And I think we’ve done a little bit of trial and error here at Lightboard. As far as where, where do we want to go? Do we? Do we want to get into virtual reality? Do we want to get into augmented reality. And these are all still things in emerging technologies that we’re talking about. I think where I’m landing is that what our our niche is, and what we are really good at is the creative, the visualization that you know, kind of, as you said, flashy sort of pizzazz that we bring to things, it’s less about the technology. And so for us, it’s become more finding partners that specialize in that technology that we can then bring to the table and have total confidence that we’re going to deliver something that functions well and brings our creative vision to life. Right? There have been a lot of companies that have even pushed us to like, Are you a projector company? Do you rent all of the equipment? No, because they assume sometimes by our name that we do all of that or that we set up all of the logistics for an event. We could do that. But that would be a very different business to get into. So it’s kind of a constant back and forth of let’s not get into that business. Let’s let’s stay focused on what we do best and just make that what we stand for. And I think that’s that’s important for every agency to do.

Anne Candido 24:38
Yeah, I love that. And I just wrote that down, which is what I heard or how I heard it was know what you’re good at and then figure out where you’re going to apply that. Right. And that’s going to continue to evolve and emerge based on how technology evolves and emerge and how people’s what they desire out of their experience and out of their environment continues to emerge and staying in tune with that helps you to stay relevant versus I do this and I do this thing, or this, I provide this service. And that’s all I do. And that’s all I’m going to do. So I feel like that’s really insightful. And I hope everybody really heard that, because it brings up another question that I have. And this might be just a tiny bit slight pivot. But in your intro, you mentioned that you have a lot of experience with b2b and b2c then I would say a lot of the work you guys do since it is still me, you do have the agency as a client, which, sorry about that. We all know we make horrible clients. But that’s the case. And it’s still going to the consumer in some format. So I’m really interested in understanding because we hear this a lot from our clients, because as April said, we are more b2b focuses. Why do I even need this? Like, what is this? Why is this even important? You know, marketing, branding, developing good content, all of those sorts of things? Do I even need it for my b2b business? So what would you have to say to those folks who doubt the need for this, you’re still talking

Angie Fischer 26:07
to people at the end of the day, whether it’s about a business or a consumer products, you’re talking to people, there’s so less a difference between the two, I think, than most people believe. And I mean, I learned that at a very early age from HSR. And how we approached b2b and the bar for creative was so low across the industry, it’s like if we, if we just applied a little bit of creativity, it made us stand out so much. And it was like you’re, you’re still whatever it is that you’re selling, you’re talking to a human being with thoughts and emotions, that all drive decisions, even if it’s, you know, a much longer sales process or cycle or, you know, there are lots of different complex things that go into that decision making. You know, communication is still critical, no matter what people do appreciate humor and cleverness and high quality creative, even in a b2b scenario, I firmly believe that I loved my experience in b2b For that reason, I think, because people are always surprised when you do bring a more creative aspect to that work, it can be more surprising and make you stand out so so much. Yeah,

April Martini 27:24
I mean, I tend to agree with you, I, after spending so many years before getting to places like curiosity, where we did focus heavily on b2b, and we were doing so much CPG and the big brands, and I would get caught up in the shininess of what that was, and oh, I was working on Procter & Gamble. And no, I could, you know, even though no one understands really what we do in our world, the one thing you could always talk about, I work on these brands, and then people are like, no, okay, looks a lot shinier than maybe it actually was. But I think the interesting thing about b2b And what we find, and where I think it is a place to play, if you’re willing, as an agency, is doing the things you said about being clever, and breakthrough and all of those things, but being really smart about it. And one of them, we talk to our clients all the time is, and this has been a big thread with all of the people that we’re having on the series is the idea that the way we sell say it is we solve business problems through brand. And I think your points about working with people, but then also not taking the ask at face value. And I think this is also something you guys do really well, whether it’s the integration of what you bring together, or the creative, just like you said, is you say flashy all the time when I described you guys, but when you’re able to take an actual business problem and get to what the business problem actually is, and then use brand marketing, creative execution to solve for that in the unexpected way. I think that’s where those moments of true delight happen. And where I see at least the light bulbs go off for people in the b2b space, because it’s a combination of you understand me, but also you brought me something that I wouldn’t be able to do. And if there’s any magic left in our industry, that’s where I feel like I said, Life. Yeah.

Angie Fischer 29:10
You asked earlier, kind of what trends are you seeing and I will say, across clients, not b2b or b2c. But one thing I’m seeing is just a lack of creative briefs that are being generated at the outset of any request. And I’m sure that this is something you guys are seeing as well. And it’s just further emphasized to me how needed strategy is at the outset of anything, whether it’s a year long marketing plan, or even just one tactic, like just going through the exercise of thinking through what you were doing, why you are doing it, asking those questions is so foundational, I wish more people would take the time to sit down and just think through that. I feel like in 2024 in a post COVID world we’ve gotten to this place where it’s like Oh, suddenly my boss approved Some spend, I need to go spend it as quickly as possible. Can you get me this in two weeks? And it’s like, like, let’s just slow down. Let’s think about what what it is we’re asking for. So yeah, there’s there’s a huge need to just define that strategy. I really would emphasize everybody to think about that, before they start any new thing. Well, since she opened

Anne Candido 30:21
the creative, brief door, I am going to walk right into the store because I this is one of the things that from the clients, I was like the biggest, like, frustration anxiety I had as a client. And I’m this is where I’m going to vent a little bit, but then I’m going to ask for your expert opinion about what a good brief looks like. So so I can, you brought up this idea for the series. I told you, I was going to bring my side of the of the lens to this. So it and it opened the door. So like I said, All right, here we go. There was a point in time, and I was in the PR world, so I did more PR style. I’ve also contributed to over our creative briefs in general. But there was a time when I refused to even do a brief because I never felt like I could get it exactly right. So if you go through and you do that thinking, this is again, an like PTSD, right? You do that thinking you put down what you thought was on paper per like, whatever format you decided. I give it to the agency. It’s like, it’s too prescriptive. Where’s my space to be creative? Where’s my opportunity to kind of bring you some new ideas and this and that, yeah. So I’m like, Alright, fine. I’m not doing everything. You guys go off. You guys know us you spent all this time onboarding, you know, the business, GM, come back with whatever you think, where am I guidelines, they would ask then ask What am I supposed to do? If I, if because if I bring you some back, you don’t like it? Whose fault is that? And like, which way do you want it? Right. And so it was a really hard thing. Find the right level of quote unquote, detail. I mean, everywhere from like, I remember one tide Super Bowl brief was just one sentence long. It was like, we want to be the most talked about add in Super Bowl. That was pretty bad. Yeah, pretty good. Needless to say, we didn’t I don’t think that was the year we did not have an ad. That being said, we’ve had more prescriptive briefs and we’ve gotten really good work. But then I don’t. So now I’m just rambling. But I so I will go back to my original question I was going to ask you, which is what constitutes a good creative brief? What gets your juices flowing? But isn’t feeling overly restrictive? How much of that strategy do you want?

Angie Fischer 32:36
That’s a great question. I think you’ve brought up an interesting point as far as who is responsible for that brief? Certainly, I’ve worked with it both ways, very often, right, that the the we maybe as an agency have had a policy that we won’t start work until we receive a brief from the client, or sometimes we as account people in April, and I would take it on ourselves to write the brief, you know, sitting back and reflecting on it. I think, what I would prefer is that the client onboard me Give me the information. But then I as the account persons less strategist, write the brief for my own creative agency and team because I think you’re writing on it’s hard for the client to know what is too prescriptive. What is what is, I think I’m just putting creative mandatories but maybe I’m handcuffing the creative team, I think a really good account person can write a great brief that will inspire the creative team to come back with those great solutions. So sure, it’s got to have the basic background and context and product. And it’s, you know, if you can identify that one thing that you want to be communicated, that is probably the single most important thing to identify in that brief. But also say that, you know, as an account person who has written tons and tons of these, I think it requires a good amount of debate and talk to get to a brief that is really tight, that is going to yield good creative. And that requires some input from a good creative director from an account person from a strategist, kind of people coming at it with these different perspectives, to look at that breathe and say, Is this going to inspire the creative team? Like if I were an art director or a copywriter that was given this and tasked with this assignment? Am I going to come back with really, really strong work? I think putting it to that test and spending that time up front is really well worth the effort. Well,

Anne Candido 34:41
and I would just add as the other agency person, it wasn’t done yet. But okay, you can add something. Go

April Martini 34:47
well, right ahead. Otherwise, you’re just gonna sit here and look at me

Anne Candido 34:50
until you’re done talking because you never know when that’s gonna be but other than that, I mean, so that a sec. I love what you have to say But you also brought up another very important point, which I’ll get back on my tie box for just a quick second is, is there one brief words or two briefs because I used to always be the issue too, is that the client would create a brief and then the agency would go and develop their own window. And I’m using myself and the third person would ask to see what that brief was, we were told we cannot see that because then we would try to input to it, and then it would be basically defeat the purpose, right? So it’s like, Well, why don’t we just use your brief? Oh, no, no, we need the client brief in order to feed into the creative brief in order to go to the crate. And like, I don’t get it. So is there one brief is there are two briefs, because I love the process that you said, I love the idea of the agency, creating what the brief is supposed to look like. And you’re right and good account person should be able to take that that’s the role of what the client is trying to achieve, both from the production style quality, success criteria, but as well as the business side of it. All right, we should be able to translate that and we should, as a client, when I was back in that seat should be able to accept that and go with it. But it just never felt like that was like as tight as it could be. So

Angie Fischer 36:08
yeah, well, I’m sorry, I’m sorry that you were scarred by that experience. First of all,

Anne Candido 36:12
not one years. 10 years? There’s a lot to undo with that. Yeah,

Angie Fischer 36:20
I guess here’s what my experience has been. A client brief tends to be anything but brief. So I mean, that kindly, I just mean that it’s because you as the client, know your business, you know, the product, you know, everything about how it came to life, it tends to be a little bit of a data dump. That’s called a brief but isn’t really synthesized into a concise brief. So

Anne Candido 36:50
means I thought briefly, just a document, a brief is supposed to be brief,

Angie Fischer 36:53
brief should actually be brief. Like one page, front and back is always my role. Like it’s got to fit on one one piece of paper, even though we don’t print things out anymore. But I do think trying to keep yourself to brief and concise is really, it’s way harder to write a shorter brief, by the way than it is to just give all of the information. So I certainly see use for that for the client to give all of that context and background. But then I do think there’s use in the agency, preparing their own internal brief, but sharing that back with you. So I would never keep that from you. I think that should be a dialogue as well. And that can be a point of collaboration between, you know, an account person and their their client to say, well, here’s how I took this. And here’s how I made sense of it. And when I’m gonna give to the creative team and kind of explaining why. And what went into that.

April Martini 37:48
Yeah, I mean, that’s where more where no, you’re okay, there we go. Glad. And it’s good. Little bit of a detour. But here we are. You know, I think that, to me, it’s that it is a document that everybody agrees on. I do believe that we need the input from client, I also have been in Angie’s seat with Angie many times where we get this multi page thing and we’re like, Oh, my God, the creative is going to get this and they’re not even going to read, you know, two sentences of it. But it’s good for us as the accountant strategy to have the background, whether it’s the document or the discussion, go and play translator. I think it’s really good when you have account strategy, creative, build that together, like Angie said, and the most success I’ve had is in doing it that way. But then yeah, but then it’s going back to the client. Yeah, it’s usually the job of not the creative in most instances. I think if you leave them out of that discussion, that frustration doesn’t build up an account, whether that’s one person or multiples, go together and present and debate that with the client. And then the other piece of all of this is that it must be the contract that then goes into all of the meetings, all the reviews all the coalition’s sometimes I think it’s just even having it on the table. So you don’t get the bad behavior of the subjective responses, right. I don’t like right now, you know, whatever, and you can keep it on track. And that’s both from the agency behavior and the client feedback perspective. And there have been instances where the brief needs to change, some are we’re realigning. And we’re saying we learned this. And actually, this challenge is different than we thought or we thought this delivery mechanism was going to be great. But actually, we think it could be this but it inspires more objective and respectful conversation, when it lives beyond just the piece of paper that you sign off on to I think,

Angie Fischer 39:40
I think that’s a great point. And I think, you know, as an account person who also has opinions on creative, that can help make sure that account people don’t just eliminate creative ideas and that the client never sees them because of a personal preference. I think. I think you’re right if it can become that more Effective kind of measuring stick of does this really answered the brief? All right, it does. Maybe it’s not exactly how I would have done the creative. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a valid idea not worth sharing. Yeah.

Anne Candido 40:12
Well, I think to from my personal experience, because I did sit in the PR world and was invited to provide perspective on creative, but I wanted to make sure that the perspective was framed in a way that’s that added value. And not was just like, I don’t like purple. Right? And I think this goes back to the conversation we were having before, too, which is about what does quality look like? Yeah. And so I feel like if we use briefs for good, then brace work really, really well. And so that’s why I started actually then writing them and asking my agency, what was helpful and what kind of content we needed to have in order for them to be able to go do their their work. That being said, on the client side, I think it’s really important that the debrief and actually articulate evaluation criteria. I mean, because it’s so subjective still, it’s like, oh, yes, here’s our brief, but still, like, what does success look like? You know, how are you? Is each person going to be approaching it? And according to their, or through their lens? So for a PR standpoint, when we were doing massive, like creative, like, can I talk about it? Am I able to get influencers to talk about it? Can I develop additional content or social content around it? So it’s not just living on its own little island? Yeah. And so you Sandpoint, we have to define what success looks like. And that criteria needs to be there. And I think that is actually what the evaluation should become about, versus whether or not you like it or not, whether that resonates with you specifically, or not, because we’re not a lot of times, the consumer we’re trying to, to reach. So I’ll share that because I was, you know, kind of went in hot there with the brief, that I do believe that there’s a role that the client can play that is a more productive role when evaluating work against the brief. But using the brief as a, oh, but you said this, and now you want something different. And so therefore, that’s a change order, and therefore we’re going to charge more, and therefore, you agency didn’t deliver what we wanted, because your idea was we’re bad. I mean, it just becomes like, there’s no point so

April Martini 42:23
well, I think what we’re getting at here is kind of a lot of the crux of the conversation around like what needs to happen. And I think, you know, have Angie’s comments still stuck in my head about at the end of the day, it’s all just people, right? And so I think while I watch Mad Men and appreciate the authenticity of what that was, I do think that was a very specific moment in time. And what we come to in a lot of these situations where it’s client agency relationship is there’s so much baggage, which I think you were just speaking to of like, the bad behaviors that happen, right, like, Well, you didn’t deliver well, how are you? You know, well, we need more money. We didn’t you know, those types of things. And I think it is having the strategically lead conversations, that gives you an objective place about what we’re solving for the business. And that the only way that the partnerships work is when both parties can come to the table with the intent to do the best work. And the egos are checked, which is me stating that out loud being in many situations where that’s not the case. But when I think about truly how to solve this moving forward, I think there’s so much distraction and everything that’s going on, right, it’s, it’s the marketing person saying I have two weeks this budget was approved, it’s having all these digital channels out there, and everyone wants to be on all of them. And it’s very frenetic of inexperience, it’s that we’re not taking the time to have these hard conversations about what we’re actually trying to achieve. We’re just running it delivering things so that on the agency side, we can prove our worth and on the client side, they make their boss happy, or whatever that looks like. And so I think one of the other things that we haven’t gotten to in all the conversations, Angie, but you and I talk about this a lot is advice you would give to young folks trying to get into this industry on either side, quite frankly, whichever you feel comfortable speaking to.

Angie Fischer 44:12
Yes, I mean, it’s a challenging time to get into this industry. I guess just to go back a little bit to what you were just saying, I think so much has been lost in the relationship side of things, right, people aren’t speaking to each other anymore. It’s just turned into two emails and Zoom calls and a lot of those in person connections that we used to have aren’t happening anymore. And and that makes it really, really difficult. And I I think about young people entering this business right out of college right now and maybe taking a position with a company that is 100% remote and I think how on earth would I have approached this career if I if I hadn’t been In the office, I mean, maybe I worked, you know, 1213 hours a day. And that was really difficult. But I was, you know, in there with the art director watching what they were doing working with the copywriter, you know, all of these relationships that were formed, I think that would be so, so difficult. I mean, I guess, you know, part of my advice would be to try and find a company, whether on the client side, or the agency side, that does still value that in person office presence, I feel really lucky that our company does have a staff that wants to come in five days a week, I think it’s part of the reason that worth, frankly, still around where some others aren’t, that we do still find benefit in collaborating with other people that are right next to us, and just getting all of that immersion and learning that you get in person. I think you just have to be willing to sort of roll up your sleeves and do a lot of different things, too. I mean, I I’m seeing a lot of people graduating thinking that they want to get their start in strategy in April, I’m sure you’ve seen this. Yeah. Well, and I think those are really hard entry level roles to ask for and to get into. And, you know, I think there are lots of other kinds of account coordinator roles or account manager, Assistant account manager things if if somebody is willing to again, roll up their sleeves and then just get exposed to the agency. I think that’s sometimes what you need to do just to get the experience to build up to maybe more of a strategy position. I don’t know, I know, that’s not the most, you know, optimistic answer honest.

Anne Candido 46:42
Yeah, it’s very honest. Well, I was gonna say, like, I lived that like, so I’m a mechanical engineer by background. I spent 10 years at P&G, really learning the business. And I learned more of the upstream side of the business. But then I had to learn how my pieces played into the downstream part of the business. So I was a student of the business of all the pieces of the business, that gave me insight into making that shift from more of a upstream r&d role into a downstream marketing and branding role. Exactly right. And so but I didn’t start it day one that I’m going to, you know, jump into marketing and branding. I mean, so I say that to say there’s a lots of different ways. So have used it, whatever role you get into, use it as a place to start is my student asked for my advice. But since I’m building on Angie’s, it’s like use it as a place to start and learn how you can become a student of wherever you are, learn all the different pieces, because you just never know where it’s going to take you. And the downstream part of it was like, I want to be closer to the strategy, I want to be closer to where the business decisions are being made, didn’t mean I didn’t like prototyping and doing product research. It just meant I felt more rewarded here. But when we stay in our little silos, which I think happens a ton to are, we have an expectation that the first job we get has to be the job, we lose the opportunity to get that exposure and that awareness. All the pieces play together. Yeah, completely.

Angie Fischer 48:15
I mean, obviously, I started on the agency side and haven’t done the client side thing the way you have. And but I do think agencies are a great place for somebody just starting because of the variety of experiences, just by nature of the agency business, you’re probably going to work on multiple clients. So you’re going to see lots of different business types, lots of different audiences that you’re communicating to lots of different types of work, you might be asked to play a part in like a voice recording or you might be, you know that you just Yes, to your point, you never know exactly what you’re going to be called to do. And I do think you get a little bit of a broader exposure than then maybe you would in your typical entry level client side role. So I think it’s a great way to just get some of that base level experience across a wide variety of different tasks and functions. Yeah,

April Martini 49:06
I mean, I would agree with what both of you said, and I would also, I think, what can’t be minimized. And Andrew, you mentioned this before about communication breakdown is that you have to be adept at having conversations with human beings. And I think that there’s also a lack of that. Part of it is the non in person, like you said, Angie, and part of it is just the texting and the being over other platforms and those types of things. And I think that a lot of what I look for even when like you said people send these people to me all the time, like I just graduated and I want to do strategy and I’m like great talk about what what that really truly and honestly, the advice I give and I hope that they hear it is that you have to put yourself out out there. And by that, I mean, you have to be willing to sit down and have conversations with people in person. I mean, truly just asking for connections. I mean, I just had one of these conversations the other day, I’m like, go through my LinkedIn, and look at everybody I know, right? Decide who you might want to meet with. Now, LinkedIn is a little bit of a, you know, I may or may not actually know those people, or they may not actually be here. But for the most part, that’s what you’re you should be asking for is those connections. And then on the other side, my expectation is, if I’m connecting someone, they have to have those skills. And I think that a lot of that is lacking. And I think it’s going to continue to lack by not having in person roles. So I personally

Angie Fischer 50:43
hope that we are shifting back. I know, I know, some companies are at least trying to do the hybrid thing. And I know some people are resistant, I would just encourage people to do that. Like, just get there, just get over the commute, get dressed in the morning and like get in there. It really does pay off. It does. Yeah,

April Martini 51:02
I mean, I think I’m also a fan of the hybrid thing. And I think it can work really, really well. I mean, I used to get frustrated, right. And we’ve talked about this before to the like, I can’t sit down at my desk and get anything done. So a day or two of being able to do that, or whatever. And then the balance of being with people. But I feel like one of my friends I was talking to you recently in an agency was like, it’s become the big scary thing to come back into the office. I know, it’s completely ridiculous. Like, if we could just get over the hump and be like, I need like you just said Get dressed and come in, like just do it. Just Just do it. Yes, lots of value there. I

Anne Candido 51:42
think we all agree. Well, I think it’s become a haven for introverts to definitely, like living in their own little world without the need, don’t feel the need to have the other people around them. And actually, creatives are a lot of those people, right? Where they tend to be a little bit more introverted, they like to work in their own little like space, and they don’t want to all the distraction. So I can imagine that’s very tough for a lot of agencies. I think the one thing that I’ve noticed, though, that we’ve seen it from press releases, you know, Disney, saying everybody’s got to come back, because we have to have all the people there in order to be creative. I mean, I don’t think anybody believes that, you know, and so you have to make sure if you’re going to frame it up, you’re framing it up for the right reason, and making sure that people can understand why them coming back in the office is going to help the business, or it’s going to help to build the next phrase of what it looks like. So you have to have a little bit of like a marketing campaign, bring people back into the office. So people see the value of it again, because they have gotten comfortable in their know in the new world. So it’s gonna be really hard to do that. But if you can give them you know, somebody to believe something to buy into, which is not like, you know, we all need to be around so we can have the watercooler conversation. Can we be creative? So we didn’t have the watercooler conversation beforehand? And or really want to like keep your eye on me is really what’s going on here. Don’t mask it. I think it’s really being very intentional. But also I think you need that sizzle in anything you need a marketing campaign to bring people back into the office, folks.

Angie Fischer 53:15
That’s a good point. It’s a good point. I’m finding trouble getting clients to come into. So that’s that’s the other thing there. We’ve got a huge office here that is all set up for people to come in and view our work. People will do that anymore. Very, very rarely. Just send me a link. I’ll look at it when I can. I’ll give you some comments in this electronic platform. And I mean, yeah, it’s it everywhere I can, whether it’s our own employees or with clients, I’m trying to just advocate for that in person interaction. We’ve got to get back to some of that.

April Martini 53:50
I mean, that’s what we do. We give the option people get the option. We’re like, we’re coming. Yeah, you’re saying it makes such a difference? Yeah, it does. It really does. Alright, so this has been an awesome conversation. We back to the brief. No,

Angie Fischer 54:02
to the brief, we’re going back. No, we’re just kidding.

Anne Candido 54:05
Roll her eyes

April Martini 54:08
and see that? Well, I

Anne Candido 54:10
just I just now that people know about anyone that

April Martini 54:13
knows me knows what that looks like. So there we go. Okay, so shifting gears. First of all, I think this has been great. And this is exactly the lens and the topics and the ways that we want to be examining it. So I hope everyone listening is starting to see the patterns in the conversations, but also the different lenses and what the rich experiences are of the people that have joined us. So I’m going to put you a little bit in the hot seat. Now Angie with some quick fires. Oh, boy, not we’ve not prepped you for these, but they’re meant to be super concise. And you know, I’m reminding myself or else Anne’s gonna call me out for how bad I am at this again. But we just have three of them and the purpose is for our guests to get you to know you as a person. Right. So the things we’ve been talking about today. All right, so first lake or ocean

Angie Fischer 54:59
I’ll go Lake There are too many scary things in the ocean. Jellyfish and sharks and yeah, I’ll go lick definitely freshwater.

April Martini 55:10
We’re not in the marketing branding creative however you define your role. What would you be doing?

Angie Fischer 55:16
I would have a combined bakery/flower shop.

April Martini 55:24
So hands on. Yes, yes. I did kind of know what that answer would be.

Anne Candido 55:29
But I wasn’t expecting the flowers. That flower shop expected the bakery but the flower shop was new. Yeah,

Angie Fischer 55:34
yeah. There’d be a little combined offering their wonderful gift.

April Martini 55:42
All right, and the last one favorite beverage on a hot day.

Angie Fischer 55:46
favorite beverage on a hot day. Arnold Palmer.

April Martini 55:48
Braley? Oh, yeah, I learned something new. I didn’t know you were

Angie Fischer 55:54
super refreshing can have a little vodka if you want to.

April Martini 55:57
Now we’re talking.

Angie Fischer 56:02
Do not mention that the first time.

April Martini 56:07
All right. Well, before we wrap up, Angie, please tell people where to find you. Because the other part is we want people to know our guests and be able to reach out and hopefully promote your business and all of those things, but tell people where they can connect with you.

Angie Fischer 56:18
Sure, I would love for anybody to connect with me. So our website if you just want to learn more about Lightborne is But I would love anyone to LinkedIn with me, reach out, I would love to have coffee, lunch, drinks, anything, please reach out to connect.

April Martini 56:41
This has been an exceptionally insightful conversation. And we want to thank Angie for being one of our experts in this Marketing Smarts: Creative Series, the issues facing creative agencies today, and how they need to evolve to stay relevant.

We hope that coming out of this conversation all of you listeners take action on the insights we’ve discussed today to make your agency client partnerships stronger and more meaningful. As well as be honest with yourselves and cleanup work cleanup is needed. We can all change the industry for the better this way. Be on the lookout or listen for other episodes in this series. And if you have particular thoughts or feedback, we’d love to hear from you as always. And with that, we will say go and exercise your Marketing Smarts! Still need help in growing your Marketing Smarts? Contact us through our website:

We can help you become a savvier marketer through coaching or training you and your team or doing the work on your behalf. Please also help us grow the podcast by rating and reviewing on your player of choice and sharing with at least one person. Now, go show off your Marketing Smarts!