Report: Overcoming creative marketing professionals’ biggest challenges

From outstanding infographics to engaging videos, creative elements can
make your marketing campaigns pop.

As more and more marketers work with creative professionals and teams
within their organizations—including designers, editors and other creative
leads—it’s important to understand how best to make your teams work
together to achieve your goals.

The 2018 In-house Creative Management Report, produced by InSource and inMotionNow, shows the value of
creative efforts to marketing and communications campaigns—but it also
revealed that professionals on creative teams face many struggles.

Those surveyed listed the high demand volume for creative work and the
speed at which they’re expected to complete work as the two biggest hurdles
they frequently face.

Establishing yourself as a strategic contributor to your organization’s
goals and increasing the variety of marketing channels that require
creative efforts followed as the next biggest challenges, but survey
respondents also noted that client communications and expectations,
technologies that change workflow and collaboration, and retaining or
supporting marketing creative team members were also hurdles to overcome.

How can communicators of all stripes help the marketing creatives they work
alongside?

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Start by helping these co-workers obtain the information they need to get
to work on a campaign. Sixty-six percent of those surveyed said obtaining
this information was either “difficult” or “very difficult.”

The creative brief

Creative briefing and project intake also stands as a challenge for 42
percent of those surveyed, followed by review and approval processes (32
percent). The more your organization can standardize creative briefs and
help establish a consistent expectation and workflow, the better (and
faster) creative marketers can produce the results you want for your
campaigns.

If you’re looking to for better produced creative elements to your
campaigns that can help you achieve better ROI, get those team members
involved from the beginning.

“Creative briefs should be treated as strategic dialogue, rather than a
simple request,” says Lacey Ford, Vice president of marketing and sales for
LexisNexis.

Ford outlines the typical process for creative teams:

For example, a marketing manager may have an idea in their mind’s eye for a
nurture program. As part of the campaign, they’ll need a banner ad and so
they submit a creative request. It’s not uncommon for marketing to do this
each and every time the campaign reaches the next milestone – submitting
subsequent requests in iterations for tactical bits of creative work.

This is a very transactional view of creative and the highly skilled team
of people behind it. It leads to inefficiencies across marketing and a
lower overall quality of work.

Here’s what Ford suggests doing instead:

A better approach would be for marketing to sit down with the creative team
and explain the vision from the outset. This includes covering what they
want a campaign to achieve, how it should make the target audience feel,
and the desired action marketing would like recipients to take. To that
end, creative briefs should be treated as strategic dialogue, rather than a
simple request.

Don’t take too long to approve creative proofs, either—doing so can clog
the workflow and make it harder on creative marketers to achieve the
campaign vision you desire.

Half of the survey’s respondents said that the average approval time for
creative proofs is more than three days, with 36 percent saying it takes
roughly a week and 29 percent reporting that it takes a week or more to
finalize their projects.

Debbie Kennedy, chief executive officer for Write for You, says that
creating a process and trimming excess can help you limit creative failures
and make sure marketers’ requests are properly filled:

If you have more than five milestones in your process workflow, you are
over-processing. Cut the fat out of your workflow and mandate that everyone
follows the process. Limit rounds of changes to three. If it takes more
than three tries to get approval, the creative brief was not on target.
After the second round of re-design, the creative team has more than likely
lost interest in this project and creativity goes out the window.

If you’ve overcome workflow and approval process challenges with your
creative marketing staff, you might be tempted to think all is well.

How to define success

However, establishing metrics and expectations is an important part of
evaluating whether or not efforts are a success. To do so, start by
understanding that your organization and your employees think of success in
different ways.

Seventy-eight percent of survey respondents said that client satisfaction
is an important benchmark of their creative efforts, and 71 percent noted
that audience feedback is crucial to knowing if a campaign was successful.

Besides feedback, 62 percent said they measure a creative campaign’s impact
on the organization’s bottom line, while just over half (51 percent) said
they look for recognition from peers or industry awards to measure their
success.

When you compare individual values to an organization’s most important
success measurements, however, the story changes.

More than half of organizations (55 percent) said that a creative
campaign’s business impact was the most important measure of success,
followed by audience feedback (51 percent). Less than half (48 percent) of
organizations look to client satisfaction to mark a creative win, and only
27 percent view recognition from peers or industry awards an important
benchmark.

“The best way to demonstrate how design drives value for a brand is to
point out how creative work touches virtually every aspect of your
organization,” says Robin Colangelo, global director of creative services
at White & Case. “From branding to design—and from your visual identity
to messaging—design is a unifying factor to support marketing and business
development efforts.”

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