A visit to your local creative practitioner – Studio Alto | Brand Agency Melbourne


A visit to your local creative practitioner.

Mark O'Keeffe   |   Image by Lucy Boehme

Going to tender for creative services is a bit like walking into your local doctors clinic with a self diagnosed problem and insisting that you know the treatment required for your ‘condition’.

“Doc, I have a really bad case of Cluckitis. I want you to read this lengthy ‘request for treatment’ I’ve prepared. I’ll need you to write out an equally lengthy response on how you would treat my self diagnosed condition including exact costs, timings, and evidence of how you’ve solved problems like this before.”

In the medical world no responsible doctor would treat a patient without at least asking a few simple questions to form an initial diagnosis.

Yet, I see this kind of ‘self-prescribed treatment’ happening in creative service tenders frequently. The problem with self-diagnosis? You may be about to treat the wrong problem.

Now, this is not another long winded rant on how painful the tender process is for both patient and practitioner. It’s a short article about a very simple step that I see too often missed. A simple diagnostic consultation with an expert creative practitioner.


I’m writing this on a plane to Fiji. Family holiday yippee!!! Life is good at 30,000 feet. The kids are happy, healthy and excited about our adventure ahead.

Two weeks ago this wasn’t the case. My six year old was complaining about a chronic earache. So like any concerned parent I consulted doctor Google and came to the conclusion that it must be a middle ear infection caused by his weekly swimming lessons. He’ll need a round of antibiotics – pronto. Nothing worse than flying with an ear infection. It’s absolute agony when your ears don’t unblock (oooh… my ears just popped right on cue). So with self diagnosis in hand, I headed off to the local doctor to get things sorted before departure.

Doc is a gentle old man. Wise in his years. Welcoming. Familiar. The way a good family doctor should be.

“So what seems to be the matter?” He asks. Directing his question my way.

Here was my chance to launch into my expert diagnosis of a middle ear infection that will require a course of antibiotics. However, I shrug my shoulders and say “It’s not me with the prob doc. Better ask the patient.”

He smiles and turns his attention to my son Myles. “So where does it hurt little man?”

“Well, I have a really sore ear,”  Myles replies.

Doc looks inside the ear — eardrum appears healthy and white. Looks inside his mouth and checks the neck glands — nothing out of order here either. No obvious ear infection symptoms to be seen at all.

“So Myles when does it hurt?” Doc asks.

“When I touch it,” Myles replies tapping on his right ear.

“I see you’ve got a few teeth missing too,” says Doc.

“Yep four missing and two more wobbly ones,” replies Myles.

“Wobbly teeth? How does it feel to eat with wobbly teeth?” Doc asks.

“I eat on this side of my mouth,” Myles says pointing to his left cheek.

A smile appears on the doctors face. Bingo!

The expert diagnosis – excessive strain on the jaw joint from favouring one side when chewing.

Treatment – stop worrying Dad and enjoy your holiday.

So turns out what I assumed was the issue, wasn’t the issue at all. Not even close. Experts like the trusty old doc make it look so simple. This guy easily had forty years experience, and was able to deliver an expert diagnosis in under forty seconds.


How did he diagnose so simply?

  • he asked the right kind of questions
  • did a little bit of testing
  • made some keen observations
  • and had a wealth of experience under his belt

All the ingredients of a good diagnostic session.


What can we learn from this experience?

Like humans, businesses are complex beings — they can suffer from many health issues that may need some form of external treatment under the guidance of a well trained professional.

Problem? Tender requests for creative services – more often than not – prescribe treatments to self-diagnosed issues, with little to no outside diagnosis or assistance. Some even prevent tender applicants from asking any questions at all.


A better way to diagnose.

Before you think of writing your next tender – perhaps you should first seek the advice of you local creative services practitioner to help properly diagnose your sneaking suspicions. You may find out that you are 100% right in your self diagnosis. But what if your self diagnosis is completely wrong? Like mine was.

A simple diagnostic session may save you time, money or both. A good creative practitioner will begin by asking you right kind questions. They will then observe, test and fall back on their years of experience to help you come up with a range of possible treatment options.

If they can’t treat your condition, a good creative practitioner will give you a referral. Like any good doctor would. So come in for a check up. It’s painless and if you don’t like what we have to say – go get a second opinion.