Time and time again we hear creative teams lamenting that they are over-worked and under-appreciated. Frequently seen as “overhead” or “cost centers” instead of the valuable contributors they are, creative teams have endured repeated budget constraints and are asked to do more with less. When it comes to cost justification, creative directors know that their teams are burning the candle at both ends with a blow torch to the middle. We frequently hear the question: “how can I get enough resources to meet the increasing demand for creative assets if I can’t justify the expense?”
The key is repositioning the creative department as a revenue generator, not a cost center. To do this, creative directors need to learn how to claim the revenue resulting from their team’s work. Across our partnership base, we see more and more creative directors embracing best practices in tracking revenue contribution. Revenue contribution – for creative teams? Yes: revenue contribution!
In-house creative teams generate revenue by developing web landing pages that fill more tables at restaurants. They sell more product by creating brochures and print ads. Subscription revenue increases by creating video promotions that get in front of potential customers more quickly. In short, creative assets delivered to target customers generate revenue.
When your VP asks you “how much is it going to cost me for another graphics designer”, first ask her “how much more revenue do you want?”
There are two complimentary ways that industry leaders are tracking revenue. The first is to put a dollar value on all the creative assets that are generated by the team each year. This shifts the conversation from being a cost center to being revenue producers. The value of the creative assets produced by an in-house team are far greater than the cost of their personnel. The asset creation is at least equivalent to the value charged by external marketing agencies for delivering quality assets to their top clients. Given that internal creative teams can develop efficiencies with their internal customers that external agencies can’t, the value produced by internal teams can be even higher.
The second way industry leaders are tracking revenue is by following the percentage of revenue their creative teams contribute. An online loyalty campaign that drives a 15% reduction in unused hotel rooms on weekdays – count it. A print campaign that runs a promotion for excess inventory for carpet that generates 10% up-tick in sales – count it. A video campaign supporting a new line of sunglasses in front of the seasonal roll-out – count it. Not only are industry leaders embracing best practices for tracking revenue contribution, but they are also using market-based valuation to track creative assets for internal projects developed to support their own company’s marketing efforts.
The drive to meet creative demand is one of the most challenging responsibilities for creative teams. The creative process is not a linear one – some logos take three hours while others may take three days. However much we value our own creative process, we must speak the language of the left-brained managers around us. Industry leaders know that they must lead the conversation around value, not lag it. The next time your VP is about to ask you “how much is it going to cost me for another graphics designer”, first ask her “how much more revenue do you want?”
Ben Hartmere is CEO of inMotionNow.