An efficient workflow strengthens the marketing-creative partnership, so they can meet more demand.
“Create your future” is the motto of this year’s HOW Design Live conference, so a panel session on the next phase of marketing-creative collaboration felt particularly relevant. Moderated by inMotionNow CMO Alex Withers, “Marketers & Creatives: Better Together” featured panelists Andy Brenits, President of the Board at InSource, Trish Olives, Creative Services Manager at YETI, and John Lewellan, Director of Marketing Operations at LexisNexis, who all shared their experiences navigating the marketing-creative dynamic.
Alex kicked things off talking about the historically strong relationship between marketers and creatives, with both sides being united by a shared passion for communicating and reaching consumers. But the digital revolution began to change that dynamic, as brands became expected to keep up with an astonishing number of channels and platforms and teams were tasked with more and more. Pressure to keep up compounded the growing divide and created friction between marketing and creative.
“So often we see marketing as hyper-focused on ‘data-driven’ and creative as solely concerned with ‘design-think’ and ‘design-first’ and the like. These things are seen as being in conflict because of so much pressure around speed to market, but in reality, they’re not—and in fact, both are essential to engaging with consumers,” said Alex.
President of the leading association for in-house creatives in addition to being a seasoned one himself, Andy had plenty to share on the shifting dynamic.
“Marketing teams are under more pressure and have more revenue responsibility. As a result, they rely on in-house creative much more—even more so than external agencies, we’re seeing. The in-house industry has grown to the point where it’s disrupting the traditional model: Creative teams are being recognized for doing great work, so they’re being assigned more work—without necessarily being able to increase headcount.”
It was clear from the audience reactions that most of the creatives in the room were-versed in rising demand that doesn’t coincide with increased resources. In fact, when Andy asked who in the audience was expecting to get more budget this year, less than 5% raised their hands.
“So the question becomes, how does your team be better this year than the year before, and better still the year after that?” said Alex. “You have to find ways to operate more efficiently. And you have to strengthen the partnership between marketing and creative.”
Achieving Marketing-Creative Harmony
All the panelists agreed that breaking out of silos requires closer collaboration. Trish explained that at YETI, relationship-building, both on her team and between her team and marketing, is a critical part of her job.
“It’s essential we have a really strong partnership between creative and marketing to execute these major campaigns that promote different products across a lot of different channels,” she explained. “The only way it happens is with everyone on board.”
Trish was also quick to add that for collaboration to really work, it’s important for marketers to truly see creatives as equal stakeholders.
“We want marketers to know we’re creating things with them, not for them,” said Trish, to a round of applause from the audience. “That’s what a true partnership is.”
From a more operational perspective, John shared how in his experience, marketing and creative can’t work together efficiently without strong, established, repeatable processes.
“There needs to be clear processes for how the marketing and creative teams operate, and how they operate together. Everyone on both teams needs to be aligned to them, and they need to reduce inefficiencies on both sides,” he said. “Without those, workflow becomes chaotic and difficult to manage, which makes it impossible to be agile and scale.”
It was clear from the audience questions at the end of the session that figuring out how to establish and maintain an efficient workflow process between marketing and creative is one of the most pressing challenges of today’s industry.
Alex explained that part of that is because creative teams haven’t been empowered with the same kind of technology solutions as marketing or even sales teams have in recent years.
“Sales has Salesforce, marketing has marketing automation, but creative by and large still struggles with access and adoption of technology tools that are designed to increase efficiency—which makes it challenging for them to keep up with increasing demand,” he said.
But solving workflow challenges can actually be easier than most teams think—with the right solution.
“We have to use collaboration; scalable, repeatable processes; and technology to be stronger marketers and creatives,” said Alex. “First it’s about realizing that technology can help creative teams keep up with rising demand and actually drive results that business leaders care about. And then, it’s about remembering that ease of use drives adoption. If you select a solution that’s intuitive and flexible, and genuinely makes it easier for creatives to do their jobs, then getting everyone on board will be easy.”