Creating a Culture of Clarity between Marketers and Designers
Marketing gets the customer. Design gets the customer. Why can’t we get each other?
It’s a question I’ve asked creatives and marketers many times before—and a question High Five 2016 set out to answer with keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and workshops.
I spoke to an audience of marketers and creatives in one of the breakout session. My talk was titled: “Why Can’t We Be Friends.” It was tongue-in-cheek, as the reality is marketers and creatives are already friends. What I wanted to share was techniques and tactics to work together more effectively, and have more fun doing it.
I encouraged both to foster what I call a “culture of clarity.” Set strong foundations and operate from the same page in the playbook.
I want to share some of those tips with you. Here’s three the resonate:
- Recognize and work on shared challenges.
There’s a common misperception that marketers and designers face different challenges. But the truth is, both groups are usually striving to overcome some of the same things! A great example? The Need for Speed: Putting forth the best possible work at the highest possible rate is a priority for both marketers and designers. Of course, both groups know that going fast can’t come at the expense of high quality or the appropriate quantity of work. It all comes down to achieving maximum efficiency¸ something designers and marketers are always chasing. One way to improve that efficiency is through both teams striving to be good communicators. Use clear direction and give thoughtful feedback, effectively striving for a culture of clarity. (To tolerate anything less is to tolerate less – less quality and less quantity.)
- Build a strong foundation.
A thriving, collaborative relationship begins with a solid foundation, and trust, mutual appreciation, and communication are the building blocks. When forging a relationship as a marketer with a new designer or as a designer with a marketing partner, remember to build on the four cores of trust: integrity, our values and beliefs; intent, our motivations and agendas; capabilities, the talents, skills and knowledge; and results, what projects have we completed and reference as successes. Learn what each of those components mean to your new collaborator to ensure you’re aligned. Go beyond specific project recognition to the personal. Foster mutual appreciation by recognizing your partner’s dedication and talent—especially honor and value when their perspective and skillset is different than your own. Finally, always be mindful of how you are communicating with members of another team. Avoid marketing or design-specific jargon or terminology. I encourage you to become “bilingual”. Dedicate time to learning the “language” of your counterpart’s discipline.
- Operate from the same page.
Develop a solid process. Interact with mutual respect. And utilize technology to continue to bridge the gap between disciplines. At the onset of a new project, it’s essential to establish a shared strategy both teams agree upon by defining the problem, target demo, competitive set, audience world, and attitudinal and emotional barriers. This becomes the foundation for an effective creative brief. As work progresses and it’s time to deliver feedback to your stakeholders, there are effective ways to communicate that move the project forward while protecting relationships. Communicate the marketing strategy behind the project to ensure all parties are aligned. Qualify what specific feedback is needed—and what’s not. The designer/producer should own the feedback process. Let’s put it this way; when you ask for feedback by saying “I’d like to make this piece as effective as possible with the highest quality as possible, can you help provide feedback?,” you don’t get cold, insensitive or snarky responses. You get helpful collaborative feedback delivered in a respectful way. If you are charged with providing feedback, be mindful of the “culture of clarity” we already spoke of. Provide clear, actionable notes; don’t take a singular approach; and avoid nitpicking. And always remember that early trumps late! Deliver work ahead of schedule whenever possible.
Looking for more tips? Check out our articles and whitepapers to learn more about cultivating a culture of clarity.
Rob Munz, Chief Product Officer and Founder of inMotionNow, has spent the past 15 years working directly with creative departments at national brands, agencies, associations and mid-size businesses to help them improve their production workflows and complete projects more efficiently.