Take a deep dive into the data and discuss best practices with the contributors to the 2021 Creative Management Report in our live panel discussions!
In the 2-part webinar series “2021 Creative Management Report: Meet the Contributors”, all five contributors to the 2021 Creative Management Report took a deep dive into the data and discussed best practices from the report in a live panel. Here are some of the highlights from the session. You can view the full session recordings by filling out the form to the right.
Part one of the webinar featured Alex Blum, Founder of Blum Consulting Partners, Matthew Rayback, Creative Director at Adobe, and Molly Clark, Director of Marketing at inMotionNow. They covered topics including the importance of creative work, the “new normal” for marketing and creative teams, and how in-house creative teams can effectively partner with outside resources to drive better content outcomes.
Creative Work is Crucial to Business Success
One of the most satisfying statistics from the 2021 report was that 93% of respondents say that creative content is important to organizational success and that 90% of creatives feel they are getting the same or more credit for driving content outcomes than they did last year. When asked what was driving this increased reliance on creative work, Matthew highlighted the pandemic. “COVID really changed the way businesses had to work. They had to rely on creative thinkers and creative teams to do some amazing things, so it’s no surprise that creative teams are getting kudos now.”
Alex added that after 2020, the stakes were higher for organizations to get the customer experience right. “Because we’ve all been parked in front of our computers all year, it’s really obvious to see the difference between companies that are doing customer experience well, versus those that are not.”
The New Normal for Creatives
Moving beyond 2020, creative teams will face a “new normal”. As Matthew put it “The creativity that was needed in the past is not the creativity that is needed today. Creative used to operate around one ‘Big Idea.’ A single campaign would run for months… the assembly line we built can’t accommodate that speed or volume. Today’s creativity is much more boots-on-the-ground. We need to ideate and get stuff out there fast, test it, and do it again.”
Molly shared another key statistic from the report. 2/3 of creative teams are being asked to learn new skills as a result of the pandemic. These skills include digital interactive elements, animation, social media, web design and development, video and live streaming, podcasting, socially conscious messaging, and user research. Molly highlighted how this broader skill set is necessary to create engaging content that can compete for the user’s attention. “In-house teams are looking for new ways to grow their expertise, and focus on building the factory in combination with external resources, like agencies. They are reallocating their spend that would have gone to in-person events and thinking about growing their skills in the digital space.”
Partnering with Outside Resources
The statistics about in-house creative teams partnering with outside resources in the 2021 report may seem at first glance contradictory. 76% of organizations handle 75% or more of their creative work in-house. At the same time 86% of creative teams also bring in outside resources in the form of agencies and freelancers. How can both of these be true?
The answer lies in the role that agencies play. Rather than thinking of in-house and agencies as two opposing choices, the modern creative team is thinking more about the ecosystem they need to develop in order to be most effective. 60% of in-house teams partner with agencies to access specialized skill sets. 44% look for increased capacity, and 20% need help getting work done faster. 1/3 of in-house teams are planning to increase the amount they work with agencies and freelancers in 2021 because they are focused on building their personal ecosystems.
Part two of the webinar featured April Koenig, CEO and Founder of Creatives On Call, Hank Lucas, Head of Creative Services at MilliporeSigma, and Jim Nicholas, Senior Creative at Florida Power & Light Company. The topics they covered included the top challenges creatives faced in 2020 and how they responded to them, how project kickoff is key to driving better content outcomes, and the importance of creatives becoming more data driven in order to partner with their organization more effectively.
Creative Challenges in 2020
Perhaps the most defining challenge for creative teams in 2020 was their need to pivot. A lot. Creative teams pivoted the priority of their projects (72%), the type of content they produced (65%), and the tone of the content they produced (60%). But it wasn’t just that they had to change the way they worked and what they worked on, they also had to do more. 58% of creative teams reported having larger workloads in 2020 than they did in 2019. Hank shared how his team met these challenges head on. “We had seen an uptick in many areas, including new terms like ‘social distancing’ and new types of content we needed to produce. We were able to successfully pivot by leaning on our core systems and core processes.”
What really stands out is the resiliency of creative teams in 2020. 57% used working from home as an opportunity to become more productive. 36% invested time in cross-training to increase versatility, and 32% partnered with external resources to flex and adapt to changes in demand. Jim discussed how for his team, the key was to focus on high-value work. “Being remote in and of itself was a big challenge. A key point of what we tried to do was keep the creative team focused on the right priorities so that we could get the best value from their time.”
Better Project Kickoff Leads to Better Content Outcomes
When it comes to their creative workflow, the biggest challenge that creative teams face is during project kickoff. ½ of creative teams report that they do not have a comprehensive or collaborative project kickoff process. April shared some tried and true strategies for getting projects started off on the right foot. “It’s important to establish accountability, to make sure the correct workflows are being followed. Transparency is also key to keeping everyone on the same page. Having a more formal process helps you get clear details and set expectations.”
The Analytical Creative
The 2021 Creative Management Report found that creative teams are slowly, but surely, improving their operations reporting, becoming more data driven. In 2021 39% of creatives teams have robust operations reporting, compared to 36% in 2019. April made it clear that being focused on outcomes is not optional for creatives. “When I hear creatives say they don’t know if a project or campaign did well or note, I always push back… You need to know what success looks like for the company you are a part of. You should be paying attention and defining success metrics up front so that you can identify when things work or don’t, and why.”