Creative teams are constantly under the gun to deliver compelling, innovative campaigns. And it's easy to buckle under that pressure when there's a lack of time and resources.
According to our Agile Marketing Survey, developing campaigns that stand out in the market is the number one challenge for marketers today. But creative teams are struggling to keep up with the flood of requests coming in from different departments and across various platforms. This makes collaboration near impossible and highly inefficient. Details and feedback get lost in a sea of emails, IMs, and documents.
As if that wasn’t enough, creative teams are on the hook to ensure the work is not only good, but unique and relatable enough to attract customers.
All that might make you anxious to expand your team to handle the ever-growing workload. But you and your team might not be ready for that.
Here are the reasons why your creative team isn't scalable right now and how to overcome them:
1. There's no central location for ideas and inspiration.
When was the last time you hosted a brainstorming session? And if it was recent, where did all those ideas go? If you're unsure, you might have just wasted an entire meeting and lost all the valuable ideas from your team. It doesn’t make sense to add more headcount to your team if you’re not leveraging the ideas on your current team first.
Document all your ideas in one central location to make your brainstorming sessions more actionable. This will ensure that you don’t lose a single idea while at the same time making your team feel like their contributions were actually heard. You can even use this document to capture ideas outside of a brainstorming session.
According to David Miller, researcher and contributing author with ProProfs, "With creative tasks, people constantly get new ideas as they work, and it’s important that they can share and discuss them with teammates and with their project manager. These new ideas can improve the end product or even change it completely, so, since your product is evolving throughout the creation process, it's crucial that everyone on the team stays well informed."
2. You have no way of managing ad-hoc requests.
The majority of creatives spend at least 25% of their time managing ad-hoc requests on top of their ongoing projects, according to a survey we ran on creative teams. If you're working a 40 hour work week, that's 10 hours a week devoted to last minute requests.
In creative, ad-hoc requests are inevitable. So make them manageable by being prepared.
Adopt a tool that allows last minute requests to come in with all the information you need upfront. This will keep you from scrambling to get work done. You're providing structure to the madness by instituting a process for requests. And when you do build out your team, you're able to funnel all last minute requests to one location and distribute the work accordingly.
See how SoFi was able to accelerate collaboration by moving away from email.
3. Feedback is fragmented across several platforms.
Feedback is crucial to all creative work. And as more people are asked to review, it can be harder to nail down a final version. Collaboration becomes a necessary burden as you scale, and it becomes even more difficult to get everyone in a room to make a final decision. Instead, feedback is distributed through email, over the phone, in person, IMs, etc. Keeping track of it all is a job in and of itself, and creates bottlenecks in actually getting work done.
Feedback should be consolidated in a central location. We like to refer to this as a Single Source of Truth. Everyone involved can have full visibility into the project and can resolve any conflicting feedback in real time. This facilitates healthy collaboration, where decisions are made all in one place and feedback is clear and actionable.
4. Last minute changes are causing delays.
With more employees becoming remote and working across time zones, last minute changes are detrimental to production. In fact, 59% of creatives we surveyed say last minute changes are the number one reason deadlines aren't met. Ouch.
Get as much information up front and set expectations with the team. For example, having decision makers send examples of what they expect designed can cut down on last minute changes. Setting a clear deadline for providing feedback is another way to combat eleventh hour changes. This is where having a Single Source of Truth comes in handy. When there is that unavoidable last minute edit, there's a central location where it's documented.
5. You have no time for creativity.
Every creative wants more time devoted to doing what they love. In fact, 50% of creatives say that raw creativity is the most valuable skill for a creative to have. Then why is talent being wasted doing admin work?
The creative team at Umpqua Bank ran into a similar issue. As they began to scale, work was spread thin across several platforms and time originally spent on creativity was now being spent managing email and spreadsheets.
Adopting a tool to automate a lot of their work allowed them to breathe life back into actually being creative.
"When you do collaborate face-to-face, it's more on the creative elements of a project versus the procedural stuff," says Carrie Buttke, VP and Marketing Manager at Umpqua Bank. "When the mundane part of the project is done for you, you can use that collaborative energy towards more creative things."
Watch their full story:
Scale down before you scale up
Before you jump at the chance to bring on fresh designers, focus on fine-tuning and refreshing your current processes and tools. How often do you meet your deadlines? Are your requests and approvals managed effectively? If you're wincing at your answers to these questions, it's time to tighten up your workflow.
Everyone is looking to grow their team, but not everyone is looking how to grow more efficient first. With collaboration as such an integral part of creative work, it's essential to have your processes in line. Evolve past the old ways of working and invest in a Single Source of Truth to streamline the chaos. And that will allow your team to focus on what they do best, especially when you’re ready to add more teammates.