“Business leaders increasingly understand the value of the creative team not just for their design work, but also for their talent as creative problem solvers,” according to Andy Brenits.
“While this acknowledgment for – and of – creative teams is excellent, it ironically causes more of the challenges that creative teams have always dealt with: Bandwidth to handle the volume of requests for our services.”
Andy is the President, Board of Directors at InSource, a professional association for in-house creatives. His assessment was published in the 2020 In-House Creative Management Report, which inMotionNow has teamed with InSource for three consecutive years to produce.
The report is based on a survey of more than 600 creatives and marketers. The results were combined with analysis from creative industry experts to provide actionable insights and best practices for in-house creative teams. Here are 5 takeaways from the report that creatives can apply to their work today.
Keep an eye out for the 2021 Creative Management Report, out this March!
The link between creativity and business results
The vast majority of creatives and marketers (89%) say creative work is important to meeting business objectives. More importantly, creatives report getting credit for their work. 87% said their organization is giving creatives the same or more credit for the business results their work delivers for the organization.
The growing emphasis business is placing on creative could well be attributed to the notion that creatives are gaining a better understanding of business objectives. That idea was reflected in an analysis provided by Ilise Benun.
Ilise is a speaker, author and business coach for creative professionals at Marketing Mentor – and one of six contributors who helped assess the survey results in the report.
“I propose that if creatives thought about business more creatively, they could bring more value,” she wrote. “But it starts with understanding the business.”
Creatives are demonstrating value
That better understanding of business also shows up in how creatives are demonstrating results. When asked specifically how creative helps meet business objectives, creatives pointed to several measurements throughout the customer journey: Brand recognition (56%); engagement metrics (51%); lead generation (31%); and return on investment (31%).
“Ultimately, the best measure of business impact is revenue. That’s why you’re in business, right?” asked Kim Condor, a strategic in-house design agency leader and branding expert.
She continued, “However, it can be really difficult or even impossible to directly attribute X dollars to a specific design choice, so you have to think about the entire funnel and show the impact that creative work and design has at each stage.”
If you’re struggling with measurement, here are 70 metrics creatives suggested as measures of effectiveness.
Creatives are getting new responsibilities
About two-thirds of survey respondents indicated that greater appreciation for creativity and design is being parlayed into other strategic business duties for creative workers: they are being tasked with new responsibilities across company culture, marketing strategy, analytics, customer experience, and even mediation for other teams in the business.
“I see this as a huge indicator of awesome,” assessed Adam Morgan, an executive creative director for Adobe. “Being asked to take on new responsibilities means that in-house teams are getting more accountability and ownership. This is happening because the businesses see the value of the work the team is doing and is giving them more.”
Yet the top creative challenges remain
Respondents identified several challenges as the most significant facing creatives and designers: the speed at which creative teams are expected to work (77%); the volume of work (72%); being seen as a strategic contributor (63%); and the increased variety of digital channels that require creative projects (55%).
While there has been a trend to bring creative teams in-house over the last several years, challenges show why external creative partners are still relevant.
“Agencies and freelancers can augment and enhance the initiatives of in-house creative teams,” said Sam Harrison, a speaker and author who has penned several books on creative work such as, Idea Spotting, Idea Selling, and Creative Zing.
However, that requires putting pride aside.
“For best results, the tenets of collaboration apply. Potent partnerships happen when everyone puts egos aside and sees the chance to create something great and learn something new,” he added.
Benchmarks for creative efficiency
The review and approval process for creative work has traditionally been one of the biggest barriers to efficiency, but this year’s survey revealed progress: 83% of respondents said creative projects are approved within five or fewer rounds of review, which is an improvement from 77% last year.
Additionally, 78% of projects are approved within a week, up from 65% the year before.
“For creative teams dealing with the growing demand for creative work plus new responsibilities, efficiency is key,” wrote our very own Molly Clark, Director of Marketing. “For teams that need to turn around projects faster, the best approach is to work with your reviewers so they understand what you need from them and how a slow review will impact the timeline of the project.”
There’s another factor at play here too, she notes, and it’s the diversion that can come with chasing approvals. “For teams juggling many responsibilities that distract from creativity, prioritization is important.”
The complete 2020 In-House Creative Management Report is available for download.
Elise Hauser is a product and content marketer with a passion for telling brand stories. She has produced inMotionNow’s annual Creative Management Report for 4 years, webinars, content sessions for major industry events reaching audiences of 11,000+, and of course, countless blog posts. When Elise isn’t writing about the marketing and creative industry at inMotionNow she is teaching economics and hanging out with her cat, Tucker, at her home in Raleigh, NC.