Creatives are stepping up to new roles now more than ever. The 2020 In-House Creative Management Report found that a whopping 2 out of 3 creatives are being asked to take on new responsibilities beyond traditional creative tasks. When asked what responsibilities were emerging, we found some insightful trends:
Creatives are Being Tasked with Managing Their Own Projects
Nearly 50% of creatives cited project management as one of the new responsibilities they are taking on. Although most creatives probably don’t begin their career with the intention to spend time on project management, in some ways, this trend makes sense. For many in-house creative teams, a dedicated project manager is an unavailable luxury. At the same time, the top 2 challenges that in-house creative teams face are the volume of work they are asked to complete, and the speed at which they are asked to work. All this adds up to creatives needing to be more proactive in their approach to project management. With innovative project management tools built around the way creatives work, it’s easier than ever for them to take control of their own projects throughout the creative process.
Interpersonal Skills Come Naturally to Creatives
Client relations, account management, and vendor management all made prominent appearances in these responses. Why? These are all rooted in personal, empathetic skills, an area that comes naturally to many creatives. Handling relationships directly with clients may sound daunting to some creatives, but for those that have strong people skills, it can be an advantageous position to have. What better way to get to the root of what a client is looking for, or to uncover the best way to tap into a vendor’s resources/tools, than to have a direct rapport with them? As Molly Clark, Director of Marketing at inMotionNow pointed out, “It’s very interesting, but not surprising, to see some of the things on this list, like ‘driving company culture’, ‘customer experience’, and ‘strategic initiatives’. This really highlights the way creative teams are able to use their superpower to do more than ‘make things pretty’.” Creative teams have the unique skill set to do things like change culture, drive engagement, think strategically, and help everyone work better together.
Complementary Skills are Sneaking Into the Creative’s Playbook
We also see some responsibilities emerging that feel a bit more like natural extensions of the creative role, such as content creation, web development, and data analytics. If creatives are already designing an email, maybe they’re now being tasked with writing the content within it, or developing the code for it. And the natural next step is to start analyzing the performance data after the email is sent! Adding these complementary skills to a creative’s resume certainly can’t hurt… as long as there’s still time to do the creative work that lies at the core of their job.
A Blurred Line Between Creative & Marketing
The line between creative and marketing continues to blur, as evidenced by “marketing” being one of the more prominent emerging responsibilities reported by creatives. While Marketing and Creative generally go hand-in-hand, they are still 2 distinct departments or teams. Yet as those complementary skills mentioned above start to branch out and collaboration and trust is strengthened, we’re starting to see creatives take on more marketing-related tasks.
Creatives are Taking a Seat at the Strategic Table
Perhaps one of the most exciting trends in this creative role shifting is the addition of strategy to their playbook. If you look at all the other areas listed above, it’s not surprising. As creatives show their value to the business, they receive more trust and responsibilities, and in turn, they assert themselves a key player in the overall business strategy. And with nearly 9 out of 10 creatives agreeing that their work is important for hitting business objectives, it’s no secret that creatives have an important role to play at the strategic table. As Adam Morgan, Executive Creative Director at Adobe highlighted in the report, “I see this as a huge indicator of awesome. Being asked to take on new responsibilities means that in-house teams are getting more accountability and ownership. This is happening because the business sees the value of the work the team is doing and giving them more.
All of these new roles and skills creatives are starting to delve into may sound great on paper, but while certain responsibilities may be beneficial for certain creatives, there’s no doubt that others may be unwelcome additions. Every team is different, so there’s no “right” answer to how the role of the creative will continue to morph and expand. So, what can we learn from these new trends, and how can we make sure they don’t get in the way of doing the core work creatives love?
- Protect the creative team. As Sam Harrison, speaker and author on creativity points out in the report, “With these added responsibilities, creative managers must act as shepherds, protecting their teams from bureaucratic pressures and clearing the ways around roadblocks. In the end, it’s not about managing creativity – it’s about managing for creativity.”
- Invest in the tools and processes that increase efficiency and collaboration to enable your team to grow. Save time wherever possible and optimize your creative workflow to free up time to branch out on new skills or hone in on existing ones.
- Define and discuss roles on a regular basis. Roles will change and evolve over time, but if everyone knows what everyone within their team and beyond is responsible for, you’ll limit unwelcome scope creep and keep the team humming.
- Get inspired. Always consider areas YOU would like to grow in your creative career. Whether it’s something you can directly incorporate into your role or that you can focus on outside of work, it never hurts to polish that resumé.
Sarah Buddenbaum began her marketing career in the agency world, providing comprehensive digital and content marketing strategies to clients representing a wide range of sizes and verticals. She’s since settled into the SaaS industry, where she currently supports the operations and analytics behind the full marketing and sales funnel at inMotionNow. In her free time, Sarah enjoys spending time outside with her furry friend, Sadi.