Whether you have a creative team of one or 50, a product line of two or 200 SKUs, are a service-based company, or have an event cycle of once a year or once per quarter, the commonality is the number of marketing initiatives in the pipeline is always more than there is time.
As executives, it’s our job to ultimately ensure it all gets completed on time and on budget. However, successfully leading a creative team through the roller coaster of high-volume workload and condensed timelines can be a real whip, for everyone involved.
The foundation of a high-performing creative/marketing department starts with the talent. Creatives thrive when they feel heard, seen, and equipped with the information they need to do what they do best.
For those who may not be familiar with SUCCESS Partners, we operate as a boutique agency for the direct selling channel. Internally, our creative team is also a shared service department, assisting other business lines with their creative needs as well as our marketing initiatives.
Admittedly, since we work with a vast range of clients layered in with our internal projects, we have an advantage in that our creative team doesn’t get burned out by monotony or lack of opportunity to be wildly creative. Like all creative teams in our channel, they get stressed from the massive volume of work at times, but tenure, engagement, and performance are high because of the variety and how we work.
Below are the main ingredients for our secret sauce to maximizing output without sacrificing quality and, most importantly, fostering an environment where creative talent can feel empowered, inspired, and proud of the work they do.
1. Define Your Workflow Process
Yes. A creative person just used the word process. Lol
“But doesn’t structure hinder creativity?” Not at all. Processes allow time for creativity to happen. Without structure, too much time is wasted on systematic questions and figuring out who has responsibility for what. A defined process removes the unknowns, which become distractions.
2. Provide Context
We were the kids always asking, “why?”
Creatives do their best work when they understand the big picture and purpose. Most likely, they have not been in the same meetings you have, which creates a context gap.
Provide a summary of the key points from the executive dialogue and define the root business challenge at hand. If there’s time, invite your team into the brainstorming process of problem-solving. A creative mind brings an entirely different perspective.
3. Communicate the Details
The basics never go out of style. Using a creative brief is a game-changer. I’ll be honest—we don’t always use a formal creative brief document; however, when we do, it saves so much time! It’s the fastest way to get a group of people on the same page. Plus, the team has it as a reference throughout the project if needed.
Even if you think your team knows, share it for clarity’s sake.
- Define the Audience: Who are we trying to engage?
Be specific about the audience the project is for. Is it new customers, loyal/preferred customers, seasoned distributors, or new distributors? Or is it all of the above, requiring versioning for specific audience types?
- Identify the CTA: What do we want them to do?
What is the call to action? Specifically, what do we want the audience to do after they read/see/watch?
- Determine the Budget: What can the team spend?
What is the budget for the project? How much can the team spend on elements like imagery, printing, or video production?
- Due Date: What is the Deadline?
Great creatives will use every last minute to tweak and finesse their masterpiece. When communicating timelines, account for various internal approvals and final reviews, noting key milestone dates, to keep the progress on track and allow time for course correction if needed.
That’s a Wrap
Timelines will always be too short. Getting all the things done and done well while fostering a fun, engaging environment where creatives can live happily ever after is possible.
When you feel the next fire drill coming—because you know it will, slowing down to identify and communicate these simple pieces of information first will make a huge difference. The experience will be better, the creative itself and the results will be on point and your team will love you for it!