How creatives can improve their relationship with marketers

4 min read
Matt Cooper
  •  Jan 11, 2016
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At Visually, we help brands create content by connecting marketers to creatives and empowering them work together effectively. From guiding thousands of creative projects, we’ve learned a lot about keeping everyone on the same page, but we also see that it’s a constant challenge to communicate well.

So it’s not much of a surprise when I hear I hear CMOs complain about how their creatives and marketers struggle to collaborate. In fact, I hear it a lot.

As brands face increased pressure to produce and scale higher quality content, it’s only getting harder. Competition for eyeballs is on the rise, as 76 percent of marketers plan to produce more content next year, according to the 2016 B2B Content Marketing Report from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute).

Yet many marketers aren’t confident about their content marketing programs. Per the report, only 30 percent of B2B marketers think that their content programs are effective—down from 38 percent last year.

With this increased pressure to create content that cuts through the noise, it’s imperative that creatives and marketers work well together.Twitter Logo To better understand what’s going on, we decided to drill down beyond the anecdotal evidence of this struggle in collaboration by conducting a survey of 789 content marketers and creative professionals.

“Poor communication is the root cause of most conflict.”

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What we found is that poor communication is the root cause of most conflictTwitter Logo, according to 60 percent of the creatives and marketers we surveyed. So it’s not surprising that when we asked creatives and marketers to describe their relationship, the word used most often was “frustrating.”

More specifically, the respondents indicated a lack of timely and consistent feedback as well as ill-defined and executed creative briefs as key issues. A shortage of creative team staffing was another top pain point identified by both creatives and marketers.

The good news: these issues can be easily overcome with better communication and by developing processes that foster open communication.

Based on the survey results, below are 3 ways that creatives can work better with marketers.Twitter Logo

Get engaged with the creative brief

As a creative, you may think about how to be more engaged in the creative brief process. According to the survey, less than 40 percent of marketers said creatives do a good job at asking questions during the kickoff and following the creative brief.

Consider probing deeper after receiving a creative brief by asking questions and getting more clarity. The better your understanding of the project, the fewer revisions requested by the marketers upon delivery.

At the same time, marketers also have room for improvement. Less than 25 percent of creatives say marketers do a good job at defining the creative brief, staying within scope, and running and addressing issues in the kickoff meeting.

To improve on this, suggest developing guidelines or a checklist of what needs to be included in the creative brief for everyone to get a holistic understanding of the project and what’s required of them. Encourage marketers to use feedback and questions from the kickoff to improve the creative brief.

Address workload issues openly

Openly communicate with marketers about workload issues upfront. Only 24% of marketers feel that creative teams they work with are staffed adequately.Twitter Logo And the majority of creatives agree, with just 16 percent indicating that they have enough bandwidth to meet marketers’ demands.

This creates a bottleneck when every project manager starts adding to a single designer or copywriter’s already daunting pile of tasks. So it’s important to be ready to suggest alternative resourcing options such as other creatives within your company or outside freelancers.

“Less than 25% of creatives say marketers do a good job at defining the creative brief.”

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Suggest an effective feedback process

For larger creative projects, a creative team often delivers several phases of work between when the project begins and ends. Yet 32 percent of creatives said they receive poor feedback during these phases, and less than 29 percent said that marketers provide feedback that’s consistent or given in a timely manner.

To improve this, you might suggest putting a structured feedback process in place where members of each team are assigned to sign off on each iteration. Without those appointed ambassadors, feedback becomes a free-for-all and the creative must incorporate sometimes conflicting feedback, resulting in an end product that nobody is satisfied with because it’s geared to meet the lowest common denominator.

Want to learn more? Check out the infographic to see more data from the survey. You can also download the full survey report to get more details, analysis, and best practices on how creatives and marketers can work better together.

Collaborate in real time on a digital whiteboard